Art 194 timeline - Mike Reeks

By mreeks
  • 500

    Antioch chalice

    Antioch chalice
    Antioch chalice (early 6th century)- This silver gilt Byzantine chalice is covered in unrealistic depictions of figures and vegetations, exemplifying the trend in Byzantine art against realistic depictions of living beings. It is postulated that this attitude may have influenced the early Islamic disapproval of figural representation. The ornament makes heavy use of vegetal motifs, including flowers and dense plant life, a trend that would be seen throughout the history of Islamic visual culture
  • 500

    Ctesiphon (ancient)

    Ctesiphon (ancient)
    This is the most prominent extant example of Sasanian palace architecture. Prominent features include huge vaulted iwans and elaborate court ornament. Ctesiphon is representative of the attempt in Sasanian art to mythologize kings - other Sasanian art includes stylized depictions of Sasanian kings in mythological positions. Analogously, Ctesiphon's architecture is exaggerated and suggestive of great power and wealth.
  • Nov 2, 622


    Muhammad, under persecution for his new beliefs in Mecca, migrates to Medina. There, he organizes his followers and builds al-Masjid al-Nabawi. This mosque will influence the construction of mosques in the Islamic world for hundreds of years.
  • Nov 2, 630


    The Ka'ba is the spiritual center of Islam; located in Mecca, it defines the qibla, the direction all Muslims must face when they pray. Repurposed from a pagan shrine in the 630s, its interior is built of wood and gold covered in religious script, embodying the preference for religious motifs over figural depictions or elaborate decoration in early Islamic architecture. It's structure, simplicity, and ornament accurately illustrate early Islamic sacral aesthetics.
  • Period: Jan 1, 661 to Jan 1, 750

    Syrian Umayyads

  • Nov 2, 661

    Islamic empire founded

    Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan founds the Umayyad caliphate after Muhammad's death. This sets off a period of unbridled expansion out of the Arabian peninsula. The lack of a definite Islamic visual culture, in combination with this rapid expansion, causes visual elements from surrounding major cultures, including the Sasanians and the Byzantines, to become dominant in Islamic art.
  • Nov 2, 700


    The Mshatta was an Umayyad winter palace built by Al-Walid II. Though it was never completed, its facade remains; the decoration consists chiefly of vegetal designs and contains several relief carvings of mythical animals. It illustrates the continuing Byzantine and Sassanid influence on Islamic architecture in its unrealistic and largely vegetal decoration.
  • Nov 2, 715

    Great Mosque of Damascus

    Great Mosque of Damascus
    The Umayyads constructed this mosque in their new capital of Damascus, on the former grounds of a Byzantine cathedral. Among the chief ornaments of the monumental structure are the carved window grilles, reminiscent of the facade of Mshatta, and colorful mosaics depicting utopian scenes of Umayyad palaces. Again, the decoration demonstrates the unwillingness of Umayyad artists to attempt portraiture, and illustrates the use of visual pieces to create a sense of establishment, analogous to the co
  • Nov 2, 750

    Abbasid rebellion

    The Umayyads are defeated decisively by Abbasid rebels at the battle of the Zab, leading to their collapse and replacement by the latter. The new dynasty ushers in gradual shifts in visual culture as religious power drifts towards the caliph. In particular, the construction of the new capital, Baghdad, introduces important architectural motifs that are widely mimicked. The Abbasids also view themselves as the messengers of traditional orthodox Islam, and attempt to influence works of art and arc
  • Period: Nov 2, 750 to Nov 10, 1258


  • Nov 2, 756

    Muslim Spain

    Abd-ar-Rahman, an Umayyad noble, flees to Al-Andalus and unites various Islamic fiefdoms into a unified emirate, later to become its own caliphate. In Cordoba, he and his successors build the Great Mosque, said to be one of the greatest examples of Islamic architecture. Additionally, the extravagance and visual culture of the Umayyads is preserved in al-Andalus, thanks to its separation from Baghdad.
  • Period: Nov 2, 756 to Nov 2, 1031

    Spanish Umayyads

  • Nov 2, 767

    Round City of Baghdad

    Round City of Baghdad
    When they gained power, Abbasid caliphs wished to move away from the Umayyad capital in Damascus, and came to Baghdad as the ideal location for the new center of Muslim power. The round city of Baghdad was a huge construction project in the center of the city built to reflect Abbasid philosophy. The Abbasid caliphs viewed their court as the center of the world, and so all major lanes in the city - demarcated with large stone columns and arcades - lead directly to the palace. Much as the Umayyads
  • Nov 2, 1013

    Mosque of al-Hakim

    Mosque of al-Hakim
    Constructed as part of the Fatimid building plan that followed their migration to Cairo, the mosque of al-Hakim reflects some of the difficulties of massive building projects. Due to a shortage of marble, it is built largely of brick. The decoration consists chiefly of arched niches, containing muqarnas of various styles. Additionally, this was the first structure in Cairo to respect the existing structure of the city, as the plan was rotated so that the facade would face the street.
  • Period: Nov 2, 1037 to Nov 2, 1153


  • Period: Nov 2, 1040 to Nov 2, 1147


  • Nov 2, 1071

    Battle of Manzikert

    The Byzantine army suffers a devastating defeat at the hands of the Seljuk Turks at Manzikert, with nearly total losses of both the comitatenses and foederati. This effectively ends Byzantine influence - the state exists at the mercy of the Turks and the Crusader kingdoms henceforth. Hence, it is often seen as the spiritual conclusion of the Roman empire. This is mostly irrelevant to visual culture, but I am a military history nerd and so was loathe to exclude it. Additionally, it marks the offi
  • Nov 2, 1097

    Great Mosque of Algiers

    Great Mosque of Algiers
    This structure exemplifies the view on religion and life held dear by its builders, the Almovarid dynasty. The Almovarids believed in a particularly conservative version of Islam, reflected in the mosque by a simple, relatively unadorned style, with tiled roofs and white plaster walls. The structure, like the Almovarids, rejects the decadence of Umayyad art.
  • Period: Nov 2, 1121 to Nov 2, 1269


  • Nov 2, 1125

    al-Aqmar Mosque

    al-Aqmar Mosque
    This symbolized the unity of relgious and secular authority held by Fatimid rulers. The grille adorning the front contains a deal of symbolic ornament, including a lamp representing the caliph as the light of the state, and closed doors on either side of the grille representing the importance of the connection between the vizier and the caliph. The mosque was built for auspicious reasons, on the site of a sheep that escaped butchery, reinforcing its spiritual significance.
  • Nov 2, 1200

    Cifte madrasa

    Cifte madrasa
    Madrese were community centers, hospitals, and, most prominently, places of scholarly study. This structure is built around an octagonal tomb with a conical dome. The main functional parts consist of four iwan buildings, containing a hospital and medical school. The Seljuks saw themselves as responsible for the reestablishment of orthodox Sunni Islam, and madrese like this one were important tools of that religious influence.
  • Nov 2, 1229

    Sultan caravanserai near Aksaray

    Sultan caravanserai near Aksaray
    Caravanserai were hostels for traveling muslims, often containing many amenities in addition to living spaces. This caravanserai was one of the largest constructed by the Seljuks, and represent their commitment to trade and pilgrimae. The structure is largely devoid of decoration besides muqarnas, demonstrating the importance of functionality over form in these government sponsored structures.
  • Period: Nov 2, 1238 to Nov 2, 1486


  • Period: Nov 2, 1244 to Nov 2, 1465


  • Period: Nov 2, 1250 to Nov 2, 1517


  • Nov 2, 1256

    Mongols capture Persia

    Mongols under Hulagu Khan (grandson of Genghis) end the Abbasid caliphate and establish the Ilkhanate, an Islamic Mongol empire. Iranian visual traditions weigh heavily on this new dynasty, and, in attempts to legitamize their rule and identify themselves with the Persian past, they issue many elaborate printings of the Shahnahmeh. The art in these poems is expressive of their rule and philosophy of art. Future Iranian rulers will continue this tradition, developing the book arts to new heights
  • Period: Nov 2, 1256 to Nov 2, 1335


  • Nov 2, 1260

    Mamluks take power

    Mamluk soldiers, capitalizing on the influence gained by a recent victory over the Franks, assassinate the Ayyubid caliph and seize control of Egypt. The Mamluk dynasty will see new levels of symbolism being imparted to architecture, as each Mamluk caliph attempts to legitamize his rule with imposing and intricate structures. The violence and lack of security in the new state influences the dynamics of patronage and art production in one of the centers of cultural wealth in the Islamic world.
  • Nov 2, 1270


    This ornamental (and ornamented) brazier represents the Mamluk preference for elegance over size or functionality. The inlays consist of ornate geometric and vegetal designs, at the cost of some grandiosity in the structure of the brazier itself. The most accomplished Mamluk metalwork, such as this, were created in the workshop of the king in Damascus.
  • Nov 2, 1270


    An ostentatious summer retreat for an Ilkhanid ruler, this structure was built atop of the traditional birthplace of Zoroaster. The architecture reflects traditional Mongol campmaking practices: the buildings are oriented to maximize their exposure to the sunlight, and are reminiscent of the yurts that traditionally housed Mongol rulers. The villa is lavishly ornamented with glazed tiles, which bear chinese motifs indicative of the Mongols' eastern origins.
  • Nov 2, 1285

    Mosque lamp

    Mosque lamp
    These mosque lamps were decorative, not functional, as can be inferred from their opacity. They were decorated with a paste with a low melting point; to compensate for this, the lamps underwent two firings: one at a high temperature to fire the base, then at a lower temperature once the design was applied to solidify it. The script on the lamp is in the Thuluth style, an elongated calligraphic style that emphasized the lines in Arabic script.
  • Nov 2, 1290

    Ottoman empire begins

    The Ottoman empire rises in the wake of the demise of the Seljuk turks; it will eventually become one of the largest Islamic empires and encourage development of Islamic calligraphy and book arts. Calligraphy was the Ottoman sultanate's chief method of communication: the Ottoman court calligraphers would develop signatures so intricate that only they could reproduce them, giving the Sultan a verifiable written communication system. Additionally, the influence of female patrons leads to newly lai
  • Period: Nov 2, 1299 to


  • Period: Nov 2, 1301 to


  • Nov 2, 1313

    Tomb of Uljaytu

    Tomb of Uljaytu
    This was a mausoleum for a ruler of the Ilkhanids. It echoes the traditional structure of Seljuk tombs, with a polygonal plan and molding around the crown. The dome of the tomb is covered in turqoise glazed brick; below it lies a row of windows, and then the door. This pattern is again indicative of a Seljuk style and suggests the Ilkhanids' place as conquerors who absorbed the visual culture of their subjects.
  • Nov 2, 1350

    Timurid dyansty founded

    Timur founds the Timurid dynasty in Persia. This ushers in the golden age of Islamic painting, particularly book arts involving the nationalist Iranian epic, the Shahnameh. The text becomes secondary, as ornament becomes increasingly elaborate and detailed. Asian influences become more apparent in illustrations, and images from this period have impact in other Islamic empires.
  • Period: Nov 2, 1370 to Nov 2, 1526


  • Nov 2, 1414

    Bayezid Pasa Mosque

    Bayezid Pasa Mosque
    This is an Ottoman mosque in Amasya. The portals are elaborately decorated with turquoise muqarnas and carvings in Kufic script. Additionally, the columns are decorated with red and white stripes, referencing the decoration of earlier Umayyad structures.
  • Nov 2, 1440


    Timurid visual culture consists of a sustained interest in Iranian styles and motifs. This production of the Shahnahmeh, a traditional Iranian nationalist poem, reflects that both in itself and in its illustration. The depictions recall earlier Persian productions of the poem, with a slight eastern influence. It demonstrates the Timurid desire to be seen as legitimate Iranian rulers.
  • Nov 2, 1488

    The Seduction of Yusuf from Bustan

    The Seduction of Yusuf from Bustan
    This is a religious painting depicting a traditional Islamic story, in which Yusuf refuses to be tempted and is aided by God. It once again reflects an Iranian style with eastern influences, and the intricate designs - in this case almost completely overriding the text - show that the Timurids favored design and ornament over the actual content of the story.
  • Nov 2, 1526

    Mughals take power

    The Mughals, descendants of the Mongols, take power in India and begin encouraging art that combines eclectic styles from the subcontinent and Persia. More significantly, portraiture becomes the premier form of book painting, and often depicts Mughal emperors iin the center of the universe. Islamic visual culture has evolved to be a polar opposite of the original, restrictive art style, and continues to absorb the culture of the Hindu citizens of the Mughal empire.
  • Period: Nov 2, 1526 to


  • Nov 2, 1571

    Fatehpur Sikri

    Fatehpur Sikri
    This was a large interconnected palace complex commissioned by the Mughal emperor in 1571. In contrast to the Taj Mahal, the Fatehpur Sikri is constructed entirely of local red sandstone. However, Islamic architectural concepts like pointed arches and muqarnas adorn the structure. The palace is eclectic and reflects the visual synthesis between local and traditional that was important to Mughal visual culture.
  • Nov 2, 1575

    Iznik tile

    Iznik tile
    Iznik was the center of ceramics work in the Ottoman empire. A unique red pigment developed there, called "Iznik red," created a unique textured look on Ottoman ceramics. This tile exemplifies the skill and style of the Iznik artists, with liberal amounts of red among long, stylized plant images.
  • Masjid-e-Shah

    The religious portion of the Maidan is decorated with double arcades and large tiled domes. The ornament stands in contrast to traditional simple mosque designs, instead opting for more elaborate ornament that provides greater pleasure and fits in the greater context of the square.
  • Maidan-e-Shah

    The largest public square in the world following only Tianemen, the Maidan e-Shah represented the primacy of the Safavids over all aspects of Islamic life. It combined the bazaar, the Masjid-e-Shah, and the Ali Qapu palace; thus, it encompasses the merchant, religious, and political aspects of the Safavid rulers. The ornament is simple and attractive, reflecting the Safavid preference for pleasure in their ornament.
  • Taj Mahal

    Taj Mahal
    The most famous example of Mughal architecture, the Taj Mahal is a massive tomb complex. The exterior includes an arched gateway with muqarnas, and the interior consists of 8 rooms (four at the corners and four radial) surrounding the central dome. The windows included carved grates and screens, and the entire structure was built from white marble. The Taj Mahal reflects the eclectic tastes of the Mughals, drawing from tradition Islamic and Hindu styles.
  • Samarra founded

    Abbasid citizens become disenchanted with the caliph's Turkish mercenaries, motivating a migration from Baghdad to the new capital of Samarra. There, Islamic craftsmen develop new methods of mass producing stucco wall decorations, enabling them to quickly construct the new capital. Both the motifs and the techniques used here become integral to large scale construction projects.
  • Samarra wall revetment - style C

    Samarra wall revetment - style C
    This wall decoration was created in a process of mass production that followed the construction of Samarra. The city was expanded rapidly following the Abbasid migration there, and the wealth of the residents required a huge amount of ornamental construction material. While the ornament on this revetment reflects the aesthetic of the time, its method of construction yields even more information about the culture of the Abbasid nobility in the 9th century.
  • Great Mosque of Cordoba

    Great Mosque of Cordoba
    The mosque in Cordoba was built and expanded upon for many years, leading to a structure of great complexity. It consisted of 11 arcaded aisles separated y striped red and white columns. The structure is rich with carved vegetal ornament, echoing the Umayyads, but also makes its own contributions: a double arcaded support model and a mihrab consisting of an entire room, to house the praying upper class, rather than a mere concave.
  • Period: to Nov 2, 1171