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Central Islamic Lands

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Richard Ettinghausen et al.

From The Art and Architecture of Islam: 650-1250
© 1987 Yale University Press
Reproduced by permission of Yale University Press


The battle of Manzikert opened Anatolia (known in medieval Islamic sources as al-Rum) to Islam in 1071, but it is not until the turn of the thirteenth century that the Saljuqs of Rum, a few minor dynasties related to them, and many relatives of ruling princes or government officials were sufficiently established to engage in major building activities. Only indirectly affected by the Mongol conquests, except for the refugees from Iran and Iraq who poured into Anatolia, the Saljuqs of Rum did not disappear from the scene until the beginning of the fourteenth century, when internal dissensions gave rise to a number of more or less independent principalities. Thus Anatolian Muslim architecture developed mostly after the main features of Iranian and Syrian medieval architecture had been established. A further peculiarity of Saljuq Rum was its cultural, social, and ethnic make-up. As a newly conquered Islamic province, it counted many non-Muslims and recent converts, with the twin consequences of eclecticism and of a wide range of cultural components, especially from the Christian Caucasus. As a frontier area it attracted Muslim militants, from ghazi (militant) warriors to the adherents of mystical Sufi orders. Just as in Syria, the large number of preserved monuments and the absence of monographic studies devoted to any one of them justifies a presentation which separates comments on the buildings from the processes of construction and idiosyncrasies of styles.

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