History of Islamic Art


To understand the historical and conceptual origins of Islamic Art: a new religion, the prophet Muhammad - with an emphasis on confessional but also political and economical aspects of the monotheistic and exclusive cult - the Hijrah and the territorial expansion, first on the Arabic Peninsula, followed by the Middle East and beyond
To relate Islamic and Christian art, in their philosophical and cultural assumptions as in the influences played by the later, mainly in the 7th and 8th centuries
To characterize the world witnessing the development of Islamic art: Arabia, Palestine, Judea, Syria, Lebanon to Jordan desert, Egypt and Northern Africa, Iraq, Persia, Central Asia, Turkey and Mogol India
To understand the evolution of Islamic art in the European context, paying special attention to the Mediterranean and the fascination exerted in the West by Fatimids, Ayyubids and Mamluks.
To address in detail the Al-Andalus, from Cordova Caliphate to the fall of the Kingdom of Granada.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Available soon


Weekly - 4

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



Not applicable


- CRESPI, Gabrielle (1982), Los Arabes en Europe, Madrid: Ediciones Encuentro
- CURATOLA, Giovanni (2006), “Arte Islâmica”, in A grande História da Arte, Vol. 20,
Lisboa: Mediasat/PÚBLICO
- GRABAR, Oleg, (1973) The formation of Islamic art, New Haven/Londres: Yale
University Press (edição espanhola (2008): La Formación del Arte
Islámico, Madrid : Cátedra [9ª edição, aumentada])
- HOAG, John. D. (1976), Arquitectura Islamica, Madrid: Aguilar
- MARÇAIS, Georges (1981), L´ art musulman, Paris: P.U.F.

Teaching method

Theoretical-practical classes including presentation of slides, maps, plans, elevations, diagrams and other graphic materials related to the subject, encompassing the reading and eventual discussion of texts of primordial relevance, enlisting the cooperation of reputed experts, whenever possible, with related field trips to Islamic monuments, or Museums comprising Islamic works of art (such as Gulbenkian or Silves museums), namely to Ribat of Arrifana or Silves, to Córdoba, to the Madinat al-Zahara and the Alhambra in Granada.

Evaluation method

Abstract/reading record of an essential text for the study of Islamic art (special rules,defined in the evaluation criteria document apply) (15%)
Written paper analyzing an Islamic artistic object, maximum 10 pages of text + images and documents with no page limit (45%)
Written image or text commentary in class, 30 minutes (15%)
Written test with bibliographical consultation, comprehensively answering 2 of 3 given questions (25%) [possible exemption if the average marks of the other 3 evaluation elements equals or exceeds 14/20].

Subject matter

1 - The origins of Islamic art: from nomadism to the Byzantine matrix
2 - The art of Umayyads and Abbasids:
- the mosques in Palestine and Syria
- the genesis of the cities and urban culture
3 - Islamic art in Northern Africa: from Berber resistance to prosperity
4 - The expansion towards the East: Iraq, Samarra and the new caliphal capital Bagdad
5 - The conquest of the Iberian Peninsula and the setting of a new territory:
- the Al-Andalus
- the territory: urbanism (from the souk to the medina), mosques, palaces and ribats
- Almoravids and Almohads: tolerance and fundamentalism
- the splendour of Granada and the onslaught of the Catholic Kings
6 - Islamic Egypt: from Fatimids to Mamluks
7 - Islamic expansion across Persia: from the Samanids to the Seljuks
8- Islamic art in Turkey, from Seljuks to the Ottomans
9 - The limits of Islamic expansion in Central Asia and India, from Samarcand to Agra: Timurid to Mogol art.


Programs where the course is taught: