The 'Abbāsid palace of Theophilus: Byzantine taste for the arts of Islam

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The Byzantine emperor Theophilus (829-842) is recorded as having commissioned a palace in the style of contemporary 'Abbāsid palaces in Baghdad near Constantinople, making it an important instance in the visual cultural exchange between Byzantium and Islamdom. One widely held explanation suggests that Theophilus had a taste for the arts of Islamdom. This paper argues that the 'Abbāsid-style palace of Theophilus should be placed in the context of contemporary political events and Theophilus's architectural patronage. The palace can then be seen as the product of Byzantine-Muslim political and cultural rivalry mediated by an increasingly shared culture of objects that included architectural concepts.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2004

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