Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 5:30pm

Jaffe Building, Room B-17

"From Sasanid to Abbasid, in Bilad al-Sham, 610-750 CE"

Two significant yet apparently unrelated events, separated by some 150 years, frame one of the most dynamic periods in the history of Syria-Palestine (Bilad al-Sham). These were the lightening-speed Sasanid occupation 613/14 CE and, in the 740s CE, the widespread adoption of Iranian-inspired architectural and decorative styles on a monumental scale by the Umayyads. Using the approach of ‘a continuity of change’, my purpose is to use these bookends as anchor points in a study of social and economic developments in Bilad al-Sham as seen through the lens of material culture, utilizing early archaeological work from the interwar period as well as many recent discoveries. Taken together, the old and new data call for a fresh interpretation of cultural, religious, and economic developments in the seventh and eighth centuries that include architecture and technology from the Iranian realm. The presentation will highlight contemporary research emanating from projects working on urban and rural landscapes, iconography and representation, and the flourishing field of numismatic studies.

Alan Walmsley is an archaeologist of late antiquity and early Islam with four decades of field experience in the Middle East. He has directed four major field projects, most notably at Jarash (1982-83, 2002-2013) and Pella/Fihl (1979-82, 1985-93) in Jordan. Currently Honorary Professor at Macquarie University, Alan Walmsley has over 100 publications to his name and is currently working on two further books, the most important of which is detailed a social and economic history of Syria-Palestine, c. 400–900 CE.

This event is sponsored by The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC), and the History of Art Department (ARTH) at the University of Pennsylvania.