Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Creswell Archive Online

Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology: The Creswell Archive
In 1975 the Department of Eastern Art of the Ashmolean Museum was fortunate enough to receive a bequest consisting of the unique negative collection of Professor K.A.C. Creswell, the eminent pioneer of medieval Islamic architectural history. Among the photographs are many of those used to illustrate the two publications which remain the basic research tools for scholars of medieval Islamic architecture: Creswell's Early Muslim Architecture, and Muslim Architecture of Egypt
The collection also includes large number of photographs intended for a third volume of Muslim Architecture of Egypt, which was to deal with the monuments of the Burji Mamluk period. Since this project remained unfinished at the time of Creswell's death, the bulk of these are unpublished.
Over the past decade the Ashmolean Museum has undertaken the printing, identification and digitisation of the Creswell Archive with the aim of making this exceptional collection available to a wider audience.

The subjects of the photographs range in place and date from al-Andalus to Iraq, from the late seventh century to the eighteenth. The greater part of the archive consists of images of the architecture of Egypt and the Levant between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. Most were taken in the second quarter of this century.

Some of the buildings which Creswell photographed are no longer extant, others subsequently underwent drastic, and often poorly-documented campaignes of restoration. The photographs therefore provide an invaluable record for those interested in the history of the major monuments of the Islamic Middle East.

In addition, links are provided to the Fine Arts Library, Harvard University, which holds a collection of 2,706 Creswell prints now available online, via ArchNet, the website established at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in co-ordination with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.
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