A Dialogue between Friends and Foes: Transcultural Interactions in Ilkhanid Capital Cities (1256-1335 AD)

KRC Research Seminars
KRC Lecture Room, Thursdays, 17:15-18:30 hrs
Convenor: Umberto Bongianino

The period following the Mongol conquest of vast areas of Eurasia in the thirteenth century, the so-called Pax Mongolica, witnessed the emergence of a new visual language in Persian art and architecture. Various Islamic and non-Islamic visual traditions that permeated the whole body of the arts of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Iran played a pivotal role in the formation of the hybrid style characterizing the art and architecture of the Ilkhanid period (1256-1335 AD). Along with the reconstruction of the cities that had been extensively destroyed during the Mongol attack on Iran, the Ilkhans (Mongol rulers) founded a number of new settlements. Both literary and archaeological evidence testifies that the foundation and development of urban centers was one of the primary objectives of the Ilkhans throughout their rule over Iran. Putting emphasis on Ilkhanid urban architecture, this project focuses on two major cities in the northwest of Iran, Ghazaniyya and Sultaniyya, in order to show how the architectural and urban features of the cities were determined through the complex interaction of local and global forces. Challenging the stereotypes that looked at the steppe people as destroyers of civilizations in earlier scholarship, this study argues that the Ilkhanid city as a physical entity manifests the dialogue between Perso-Islamic sedentary concepts and Mongolian nomadic traditions.