The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) is one of the main sponsors of Near Eastern archaeology in the United States and supports research and publications on the peoples and cultures of the Near East from the earliest times to the present day. It also directs overseas research centres in Amman, Jerusalem and Nicosia. The website for their newsletter gives access to online or PDF versions of the ASOR Newsletter from 1996 to the present. The newsletter includes reports on research funded by ASOR and the activities of their overseas research centres. It is published quarterly. The majority of the research sponsored by ASOR is archaeological, but ethnographic and other types of research are reported in the newsletter as well. The publication will be of interest to students and researchers in Near Eastern archaeology, history and heritage.
Annales islamologiques is a journal published by the Institut français d'archéologie orientale du Caire. It is devoted to research on Arab and Islamic civilization, primarily in Egypt. The website makes available full-text PDF versions of all issues of the journal from 1954 to 1996, many of which are out of print or difficult to find. Tables of contents are provided for more recent issues. Articles are accessible through tables of contents for each issue or for the entire collection, and a full-text search function is also available. The website and most articles are in French, though some articles are in English or Arabic. The site will be of interest to researchers in Middle Eastern history and Islamic Studies.
This website publishes a collection of illustrated articles, each focusing on individual archaeological sites in Israel. Among the topics are Akko during the Crusader Kingdom; the Canaanite sites of Arad, Gezer, Hatzor and Nahal Refa'im; the Chalcolithic sites of Be'er Sheva , Golan, and Cave of the Treasure (metal hoard); Bethsaida (of Biblical fame); the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Carmel Caves; the Philistine settlements of Ekron and Tel Qasile; the Herodium; Jericho; Jerusalem; Masada; Megiddo; the Islamic Nimrod fortress; Qumran (settlement and Dead Sea Scrolls); a Roman boat from the Sea of Galilee; Shaar HaGolan (Neolithic figurines); Tiberias; Timna (copper mines and Hathor Temple); Zippori (Sepphoris); and several articles on recent discoveries and underwater archaeology. Many articles focus on Biblical archaeology, but there are also some on prehistoric, Roman, Islamic and Medieval archaeology. This website maybe useful especially to students considering the introductory character of the articles.
This website is part of the Digital Library for International Research, a project of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), and it publishes the first six volumes (1982-1992) of the "Arkeoloji Sanat Tarihi Dergisi" journal. Papers are written mainly in Turkish and are accessible as individual full-text PDF files, with searchable text. The journal focuses on post-Roman Turkish archaeology and art including Islamic archaeology (e.g. the Topkapi Palace).
This website publishes a single paper by Prof. David Schloen on the discoveries made at Ashkelon from 1985 up to the date of the paper, 1995. Further research is being carried out at Ashkelon by the Leon Levy Expedition (Harvard University); a separate website on the expedition is linked.
The ancient settlement of Ashkelon is situated 40 miles south of Tel Aviv in Israel and was the site of Canaanite kings and later a Philistine settlement. Canaanite Ashkelon has yielded the oldest and largest seaport yet, with Middle Bronze Age ramparts, and an arched gate still standing two stories high.
One of the finest and most diverse collections in Athens, and also the oldest in Greece, it is no surprise to find that the Benaki Museum's website is exemplary in form and content. It offers all the necessary information for the prospective visitor, including QuickTime movies of many of the galleries, details of past, present and future collections, and overviews of the collections. A journey through the museum passes through Ancient Greece and the Roman period, the Byzantine period, the Frankish and Ottoman occupations, to the struggle for independence in the nineteenth century and the establishment of the Greek state thereafter. Each section is represented by a selection of choice artefacts, the illustrations of which can be enlarged. The Museum also holds important collections of historic heirlooms, over 6000 paintings and drawings by Greek artists and those who visited or were inspired by the country, as well as Coptic, Chinese (largely the gifts of George Eumorphopoulos) and Islamic art and a collection of Toys and Games from Greece and the wider world. There is admirable attention to the history of the museum, with special features on the founder, Antonis Benakis, and other significant donors, as well as the building itself (the Benakis' residence in Athens) and plans for the division of the collection (the Islamic collection, the Department of Historical Archives, and the collection of Toys and Games) and their prospective homes. The Museum's Archive collection is particularly important, and there are separate pages for the Historical (much relating to the Greek War of Independence and the later rise of Eleftherios Venizelos), Neo-Hellenic Architecture and Photography archives. The last has further links to pages devoted to James Robertson, Nelly's, Voula Papaioannou and Dimitris Harissiadis, all of which are well illustrated. All three archives are responsible for publications, details of which are listed.
"Chroniques Yéménites" is a free full-text journal in French focussing on the archaeology and history of Yemen and publishing referenced academic papers. It is possible to access printable pages of any paper by clicking on "version imprimable"; to perform a full-text keyword search; and to subscribe to a mailing list that sends table of contents of new issues. A few papers are in English or Italian; and some focus on the recent history and culture of Yemen; yearly summaries of political events have been published for both Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The journal includes papers on megalithism; rock art; epigraphy; Islamic manuscripts and studies; trade on the spice route; and other archaeological studies. There are papers as diverse as "A Chinese in the Nubian and Abyssinian Kingdoms (8th Century)" by Wolbert Smidt about ancient contacts between China and the Axumite Empire and "La psychiatrie au Yémen" by Claire Harbonn-Sotty about the state of mental health facilities in contemporary Yemen.
This website is published by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and focuses on "Saladin's wall", an early Islamic (Ayyubid Sultanate) series of architectural structures at Cairo, Egypt. There are a few short articles on the subject, with plans and colour pictures. The 'diaporama' (picture gallery) collects in one place all the many colour photos and drawings in the articles. The website includes a bibliography and a map.
'The Holy Land of the Crusaders' is based on a calendar published in 1999 by the Massolini Group to commemorate the ninth centenary of the First Crusade. This online resource consists mainly of a series of high quality, enlargeable photographs of buildings and artefacts left by crusaders. It includes pictures of a number of castles such as Kerak, Montfort, Belvoir, which were built as strongholds, administrative centres and refuges for pilgrims to the Holy Land (Palestine in modern Israel and part of Jordan). Other pages show the remnants of sanctuaries and churches and a collection of art and artefacts such as sculptures, seals and coins produced by pilgrims. The text, in an Italian and English version, is quite basic as this site's emphasis lies on the photographs, but on the whole this resource serves a good complement to picture-less historical works on the Crusades from the ninth century to the setting up of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land in 1342.
This website details the architectural history of the city of Isfahan (or Esfahan) in Iran. Isfahan is a designated UNESCO world heritage site, with an architectural history dating back to the eleventh century CE. This site describes, and provides photographs of, all the minarets, bridges, palaces, mosques, and shrines in the city that were built before the twentieth century. There is a section on the fundamental concepts of Persian architecture, which explains the religious significance of the design and colouring of the several parts of the Persian mosque. The site also provides basic introductions to: Shi'ism; the influence of Sufism in the development of Iranian culture; and the historic events that have affected Persia/Iran. The site includes an extensive bibliography and links section, which references: publishers that produce works on Iranian/Persian history; other websites that refer to Isfahan; sites concerned with Iranian religion, culture, and literature; and Iranian newspapers.
This is a Web-Based Teaching Course specialising in the history of Islamic Ceramics from the earliest period to the time of the "Great Empires". It is structured around ten historical sections which case-study the most significant periods and production centres throughout the history of Islamic ceramics, and is introduced by two general sections on ceramic technology. It is illustrated from the collections of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and also by digitised clips of a Teaching Video entitled "Making Lustre Pottery with Alan Caiger-Smith". While most of the course is functional, there unfortunately appear to be a couple of sections that were never completed. In addition to the course itself, the site includes examples of past exam questions on the subject set by Oxford University. There are also essays on 'Abu'l-Qasim's Treatise on Ceramics' by J.W. Allan, and 'Esfahan: an unexpected pottery workshop' by Alan Caiger-Smith, which may both be read at the site. The course was initially created for use by students on the Islamic Art and Archaeology courses of the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, but it was decided to make the site open access. It seems to be the only resource of its kind currently existing on the Web, and provides an easily navigable educational resource.
The Jerablus Tahtani Project, located in northern Syria, is an archaeological research programme designed to investigate four key themes: the expansion of the Uruk civilisation in the 4th millennium BC; secondary state formation in Early Bronze Age Syria; urban recession in the Near East during the late 3rd millennium BC; and the early history of archaeologically inaccessible Carchemish. Fieldwork, conducted as the British contribution to the Syrian government's International Tishreen Dam Rescue Programme, focused upon the excavation of Tell Jerablus Tahtani and was undertaken between 1991 and 2000, with the University of Edinburgh. Excavation Reports from 1998, 1999 and 2000 are available online via the website, as are several of the major databases from the site (downloadable in Excel, Access and Word formats). A bibliography is also provided.
This website is published by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and focuses on the Islamic medieval sites along the Kenyan coast and especially the site of Gedi. The website contains a few articles concentrating on religious, funerary and trade contexts; a map and a bibliography. The 'diaporama' (picture gallery) collects in one place all the many colour photos and drawings in the articles.
This Web page gives access to the full-text of 'Orient: Report of the Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan' (1960-2004), and despite the word 'report' in the title this is actually a substantial academic journal. Tables of contents, abstracts, and PDF files of articles are all freely available online. The journal was published in English, with occasional articles in German and French, and was devoted to reports and scholarly articles on archaeological and historical topics, with forays into linguistics. Example article titles include: 'Historical problems of the early Achaemenian period'; 'Hadiths as historical sources for a biography of the prophet'; 'A Japanese view of Lord Cromer's rule in Egypt'; and 'A Century of Turkish Studies in Japan', among many others. The latest issue available at 2009 is the 2004 issue, a special on the history of glass and glass-making. This will be a useful full-text resource for those engaged in the historical study of the Near East. The journal issues are held on the Japanese central online archive of ejournals (which is presented in English, but which otherwise contains only scientific journals), and as such the page does not have details of editors and Editorial Board - but these may be found by browsing the preface of recent issues or by searching Google.
"Persian Texts in Translation" is a website published by the Packard Humanities Institute. The website contains dozens of Persian texts in translation as well as several digitized secondary sources on Persian literature. The texts can be browsed by author or title and each Persian author is introduced with a short bibliography. Persian titles are available in translation and can be read using a HTML browser. Over 100 works are already available in full-text. The website requires a Java-enabled browser.
The Palestine Exploration Fund (PEQ) was established in 1865 to promote research into the archaeology, history, culture, topography, geology and natural sciences of the Holy Land and has been at the forefront of archaeological research in the modern Levant in recent times. It also published an academic journal, Palestine Exploration Quarterly. The official website offers a succinct guide to the society's various activities, facilities and publications, past and present, and provides details of its annual programme of lectures, grants for research and excavations in addition to supplying information on its executive committee and staff and on joining the PEQ. The brief guide to the history of the society provides a useful introduction to archaeological research in Israel and Palestine with concise, illustrated biographies of its numerous eminent associates, such as T.E. Lawrence, Leonard Woolley, Chales Warren, Flinders Petrie, John Garstang, Kathleen Kenyon and Olga Tufnell, in addition to short accounts of past archaeological campaigns. The PEQ's extensive archives, collections and library holdings are described together with information on how to contact curatorial staff. There is also a useful page of links to the webpages of relevant journals and archaeological institutions in the United Kingdom, United States and Middle East while the 'Features' section provides useful insights into various aspects of the archaeology and history of the Levant. This website, in addition to providing useful practical information on the PEQ, will benefit students and researchers interested in the history of early scientific research and travel in the Middle East and in the origins of contemporary attitudes to the culture and politics of this region.
This website documents the fragments of textiles found by archaeologists from the University of Southampton at the ancient port of Quseir el Qadîm in Egypt. Consisting of fabrics from the ports periods of maximum importance - before the 3rd Century CE and after the 12th - discoveries have shed light both on the sophistication of the textiles produced at these time, and also the scope of trade - in the Roman era the port was a centre for trade with India, and in the Islamic period an important stopping point for Hajj pilgrims. As well as describing the project, the website is contextualises and illustrates some of the most important finds.
This interactive website uses multimedia and virtual reality technologies to present some of the most important architectural monuments built in the Mediterranean region. Sections on ancient, Byzantine; Medieval; Renaissance; Baroque; Islamic and other architectures contain each four parts: a short introduction; virtual panoramas; interactive plans and featured projects among those carried out by staff at Columbia University. Among the featured monuments are the temples in the Athenian acropolis; the Pantheon of Rome; Greek temples of Magna Graecia; Byzantine monuments at Ravenna and Istanbul; several medieval cathedrals including Amiens, Assisi, Canterbury, Chartres, Cluny, Durham, Florence, Lincoln, Milan, Reims, Rome and Salisbury; Renaissance monuments in Rome, Florence and Venice; Baroque monuments at Bath, Paris and Italy; modern architecture in New York and Islamic architecture at sites such as Bam, Granada and Istanbul. Monuments and places such as the Athenian Parthenon; Byzantium; Amiens Cathedral; Florence Cathedral; the Opera House in Paris; Fallingwater house and many others have been singled out for special interactive features. There is also an interactive version of Jacopo de Barbari's map of Venice (direct link in "Relations" field) drawn in 1500. This is a very useful website for students interested in architecture, history of art or archaeology.
This website gives the user access to images and descriptions of a large collection of rock carvings and inscriptions which were uncovered in 1978 during the building of a road connecting Pakistan and China through the Himalayan and Karakorum mountains. The site has a small gallery showing seven examples of rock art, as well as another collection of images from the highway itself. There is also a list of publications about the collection, along with tables of contents for each of the works. Given that the website refers to approximately 35,000 inscriptions being catalogued by the project, the small number of images on this site is somewhat disappointing, but the introduction and description of the texts and drawings is nonetheless useful.
The Society for Arabian Studies is a scholarly organisation based in London that aims to... "support and encourage research in the Arabian peninsula in the fields of archaeology, history, culture and the environment". The website is presented in English. The Society publishes an annual 'Bulletin' magazine in English, which is freely available online in PDF format. The 'Bulletin' aims to be a comprehensive survey of scholarly activity in the field during the past year, and at October 2008 three issues of this journal are available for download. Also available on the website are full details of the organising committee, membership fees, the Society's conferences, lectures, its Monograph Series, and other activities. The Society also offers small grants, of £500. This website will be especially useful for those seeking an accessible summary of recent scholarship in this area.
This website is published by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and focuses on the site of Hâdir Qinnasrí®m, Syria. The site presents the preliminary report on the few trenches that have been dug in the area, which have so far concentrated on the early Islamic area of Hâdir. The nearby site of Qinnasrí®m is a Bronze Age site, which was then rebuilt nearby during the Greek period and named Chalcis. An illustrated article focuses on Islamic pottery and coins dated to the 7th century, a transitional period between Byzantine and Islamic rule in the region. There is a bibliography, a map, and a small glossary of terms. High resolution versions of the pictures in the texts can be found in the 'diaporama' (picture gallery).
Archaeology, Nationalism and Heritage in Islamic Society: a Turkish Case Study is an investigation undertaken by Dr David Shankland into the relationship between culture, nationalism and the remains of the past within Islam, taking Turkey as a specific example. The research took place between July 2000 and September 2001 in the Konya region of Turkey, centring largely upon the Neolithic archaeological site of Çatalhöyük. Visits were also made to population centres, such as nearby Konya, for the purposes of comparison and corroboration of findings. This archive presents a visual document of Dr Shankland's research, providing access to over 500 images and their accompanying annotations. They include photographs from the main focus of research at Çatalhöyük and other archaeological sites in Turkey.
The official website of the Iraq Museum publishes some information on the galleries. For each gallery there are a few pictures (thumbnail size) with captions. Some texts do appear in a few galleries. Further information may appear in the future as there are placeholder pages for an extensive website (possibly the whole website as reviewed is a placeholder for future contents). Students will find very little reason to visit the website for the information it contains at the time of review. In recent years the museum has come to symbolise the damage to cultural heritage that conflicts may do and unfortunately the website mirrors the state of the real museum. A blank page on the "looting impact" is an icon by itself. The arabic version of the website opens in a new domain, but is currently empty, not even the scanty information available in the English version has been translated. Hopefully as things progress on the ground, they will do so also on the Web.
"The Virtual Museum of Iraq" website has been produced under the scientific supervision of the Italian Research Council (CNR) and is supported by the Italian Foreign Ministry. Despite the involvement of research staff, the website is aimed at the general public in a bid to help the Iraqi people reconstruct their cultural identity and it is of limited value to students. The website recreates graphically the environment of a museum and selected artefacts are displayed in "halls", each focusing on a distinct chronological period (prehistoric to Islamic periods). The selection of many artistic objects suggests the use of old fashioned criteria and limits the value of the website as an educational tool. For each artefact there is a "description" with a picture, and often there are 360 degrees QuickTime VR representations of the artefact ("Explore") and a "video" a few minutes long outlining the archaeological and/or cultural contexts. The information for the individual artefacts is succinct and correct. Section "backstage" (bottom bar) contains short videos by the scientific curators providing additional information on the project; these videos are available in Italian only.
The website is very polished and uses of several multimedia technologies, including virtual reconstructions, but navigating through it is not as easy as it could be. Virtual reconstructions are however based on "best guess" policies and therefore of limited value to anyone serious about the study of a culture. There is also a distracting running music that cannot be switched off permanently. The layout of the website appears to be that of a real museum. The project saw the involvement of staff from the Iraq museum in Baghdad, but is not the official website of the museum even if at times it may appear to be. It would have been preferable to see less graphics and no virtual walls potentially suggesting that the website acts as a replacement of the real museum. Since the real museum has been damaged in a conflict, the use of virtual reality to recreate that environment as good as it can be seems ethically challenged and may well become the subject of academic discussions involving students. Despite the obvious great efforts in producing the website, the graphics and multimedia seem to overshadow the actual artefacts and whilst the casual user may think that the website is a great introduction to the Iraqi culture using the latest technologies, even undergraduate students will struggle to squeeze out of it some educational value.