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The Islamization of the Architectural Landscape in Palestine from 700-1500

Prof. Rachel Milstein, Dr. Gideon Avni & Dr. Katia Cytryn-Silverman


The theoretical framework of our research is based on the assumption that cultural and religious movements - in our case, Islamization and Arabization of the society in Palestine - entail modifications in the architectural landscape. These changes are expressed by appropriation and conversion of non-Islamic religious monuments and sites; foundation of monuments which serve the Muslim cult; construction of typical Islamic public buildings; modifications in the urban structure, mainly in the city center and around the mosque; and a slow process of change in the rural populations of Palestine, as a reflection of Islamization and the transformation from Christianity to Islam.
Our research is based on three simultaneous and interconnected themes:
1. In cooperation with the other teams, our research of Islamic sites excavations and architectural remnants aims to thicken and broaden the “map” of Muslim settlement and activity (mainly religious) in Palestine.
2. A comparative study of architectural remnants in Palestine and the surrounding lands aims at developing a tentative model of the formation process of Islamic architecture.
3. A study of the Muslim towns in Palestine - structures and urban landscapes.
Beside a survey of known material, the project supports Cytryn-Silverman’s excavations at the city-center of Tiberias, a site which clearly represents the process of Islamization of a classical town.
The information derived from written sources (data produced by the other teams) and findings derived from material culture are compared, in order to interpret better the historical authenticity and the meaning of the findings. As a result we expect that the layout of the center of Tiberias in the early Muslim period, and the plan of the Umayyad Friday mosque will be revealed by the excavations; new parameters for the identifications of Muslim sites monuments will help analyze future excavations and re-evaluate the data of known sites; the “map” of Islamization in Palestine is updated; and the research gives a new basis for a model of the formation and the evolution of religious Islamic architecture on the one hand, and the Islamization of the urban and rural landscape on the other hand.

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