The Minaret of Khusrawgird

So this is the Golden Road. Eight centuries ago, the minaret of Khosrugird watched the traffic as it watches us. “What strikes the researcher, is the very scant information that one can find about the minaret.” This is what I wrote on a post-it while searching the web and the books for more information on…

Vikings and Square Kufic?

On the 3rd of October, the University of Uppsala published an article that was to generate much discussion on the social media. The title of the article was pretty sensationalistic, as it claimed that the words Allah and ‘Ali were written in Square Kufic on woven bands of silk in burial costumes found in Viking Age…

Tarik Khana Mosque

its round squat pillars recall an English village church of the Norman period The last monument Robert Byron visits in Damghan on the 13th of November 1933 is the Tarik Khana Mosque, that he compares to an English village church. Byron loves comparing Iranian buildings to more familiar architectural forms: it already happened, for instance,…

Gunbad-i Pir-i ‘Alamdar

inscribed and dated as built in the eleventh century On the 13th of November 1933, while taking a photo of the Gundab-i Pir-i ‘Alamdar in Damghan, Robert Byron probably did not realize he was in front of the oldest monument of Damghan. He recorded this tomb tower together with the Gunbad-i Chihil Dukhtaran, devoting to…

The Minaret of Semnan

I heard of an old minaret, which I found before the police found me. We cannot say that Robert Byron visited the Friday Mosque of Semnan. It is more correct to say that he passed by and took a photo, at least as long as we trust what’s written in his travelogue. Also, he does not…

Gunbad-i Qabud

built of plum-red brick […] transferred as it were from an English kitchen garden to the service of Koranic texts Robert Byron arrives in Maragha on the 16th of October 1933 where he visits and takes pictures of one of the three tombs that are to be found there: the Gundab-i Qabus. Byron himself recognizes the…

The Mosque al-Nuri in Mosul: what was lost

It is a pity that you get the chance to talk about certain monuments only after that they are destroyed. Until yesterday, the general public did not know anything about the Mosque of Nur al-Din, and its minaret. ISIS has destroyed, once again, Middle Eastern heritage: the destruction of the Mosque of Nur al-Din has been…

Amulets, talismans, and Qur’anic inscriptions

In the last few months, two important museums have organized two distinct exhibitions dedicated to amulets and talismans in the Islamic world. The Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition, Power and Piety: Islamic talismans on the battlefield, showcases a selection of arms and armor decorated with inscriptions and images believed to protect the warriors during battles. A second exhibition, titled…