Samarra Studies Publication Series

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Forthcoming publications in this series:

  • R. K. Falkner & A. Northedge, Pottery from Samarra, The Surface Survey and the Excavations at Qadisiyya 1983-9 (Samarra Studies III)
Title Author Year
Samarra I: The Historical Topography of Samarra Alastair Northedge 2008
Archaeological Atlas of Samarra: Samarra Studies II Alastair Northedge and Derek Kennet 2015

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Samarra I: The Historical Topography of Samarra

Author: Alastair Northedge
Volume: I
2008
Format: 426p, A4, 91 pls, 116 b/w illus, paperback
ISBN: 9780903472227
Price: £10
Notes:

Originally published in conjunction with the Max van Berchem Foundation, the BISI/BSAI has re-published with some revisions Alastair Northedge’s Historical Topography of Samarra in a paperback version with a new preface commenting on Samarra’s recent tragedies. This is the first fundamentally new work to come out in half a century on one of the world’s most famous Islamic archaeological sites: Samarra in Iraq. This capital of the Abbasid caliphs in the 9th century is not only one of the largest urban sites worldwide, but also gives us the essence of what the physical appearance of the caliphate was like, for early Baghdad is long lost. It was known not only for its famous spiral minarets, but also for its Golden Dome over the tombs of the Imams, and its long avenues of mud-brick architecture - the latter still visible, although the Golden Dome was horrifically destroyed in a bombing in February 2006 and its two remaining minarets in another bombing in June 2007. With the end of Saddam’s regime in Iraq, there is renewed interest in the Abbasid caliphate “the Golden Age of Early Islam”, rightly seen as the foundation of modern Iraq.

Northedge sets out to explain the history and development of this enormous site, 45 km long, using both archaeological and textual sources to weave a new interpretation of how the city worked: its four caliphal palaces, four Friday mosques, cantonments for the military and for the palace servants, houses for the men of state and generals. Samarra is particularly strong on the archaeology of sport: polo grounds, courses for horse-racing, and hunting reserves. After treating the origins of the Abbasid city under the Sasanians, the author then analyses each sector of the city, and explains why it was abandoned at the end of the 9th century. The volume is abundantly illustrated with aerial photographs of the site. This is the first of a series of Samarra Studies; in the second, The Archaeological Atlas of Samarra (2015), the archaeological remains are catalogued, and in the third, Pottery from Samarra, the ceramic finds from the archaeological survey will be published.

Alastair Northedge is Professor of Islamic Art and Archaeology at Université de Paris 1. He has worked in Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and conducted projects at Amman in Jordan, and Ana in Iraq, in addition to Samarra. He is the author of Studies on Roman and Islamic Amman, and joint author of Excavations at Ana, with Andrina Bamber and Michael Roaf.   

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The Historical Topography of Samarra 



Archaeological Atlas of Samarra: Samarra Studies II

Author: Alastair Northedge and Derek Kennet
Volume: II
2015
Format: 831 pp, A4, hardback, 2 volumes and 1 fascicle
ISBN: 9780903472302
Price: £64.00
Notes:

The Archaeological Atlas of Samarra sets out to map and catalogue the site and buildings of the Abbasid capital at Samarra in the period 836 to 892 AD, preserved as they were until the middle years of the 20th century. Site maps and catalogues are provided of all the approximately 5819 building and site units identified. This is the first time that it has been possible to catalogue nearly all the buildings of one of the world’s largest ancient cities, from the caliph palaces to the smallest hovels.

Alastair Northedge is Professor of Islamic Art and Archaeology at Université de Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne). He has worked in Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and conducted projects at Amman in Jordan, Ana in Iraq, and Misriyan in Turkmenistan, in addition to Samarra. He is the author of Studies on Roman and Islamic Amman, and joint author of Excavations at Ana.

Dr Derek Kennet is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at Durham University where he has been since 1998. His research area includes the later pre-Islamic to Islamic periods of Iraq, the Gulf and the western Indian Ocean. He has conducted fieldwork in Iran, India, Kuwait, the UAE and Oman.

Published by: The British Institute for the Study of Iraq with support from the Fondation Max van Berchem

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