The Islamic Villa in Early Medieval Iberia
Architecture and Court Culture in Umayyad Córdoba
Exploring the aristocratic villas and court culture of Córdoba, during its 'golden age' under the reign of the Umayyad dynasty (r. 756-1031 AD), this study illuminates a key facet of the secular architecture of the court and its relationship to the well-known Umayyad luxury arts. Based on textual and archaeological evidence, it offers a detailed analysis of the estates' architecture and gardens within a synthetic socio-historical framework. Author Glaire Anderson focuses closely on the CÃ³rdoban case study, synthesizing the archaeological evidence for the villas that has been unearthed from the 1980s up to 2009, with extant works of Andalusi art and architecture, as well as evidence from the Arabic texts. While the author brings her expertise on medieval Islamic architecture, art, and urbanism to the topic, the book contributes to wider art historical discourse as well: it is also a synthetic project that incorporates material and insights from experts in other fields (agricultural, economic, and social and political history). In this way, it offers a fuller picture of the topic and its relevance to Andalusi architecture and art, and to broader issues of architecture and social history in the caliphal lands and the Mediterranean. An important contribution of the book is that it illuminates the social history of the Córdoban villas, drawing on the medieval Arabic texts to explain patterns of patronage among the court elite. An overarching theme of the book is that the Córdoban estates fit within the larger historical constellation of Mediterranean villas and villa cultures, in contrast to long-standing art historical discourse that holds villas did not exist in the medieval period.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Social dimensions of patronage; Architecture and ornament; Gardens; The landscape of sovereignty; Epilogue; Appendix; Timelines; Bibliography; Index.
Glaire D. Anderson is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.
Prize: Winner of the Eleanor Tufts Award 2015, American Society for Hispanic Art Historical Studies
'This publication met and surpassed the stipulated award criteria of originality of conception, thoroughness of research, rigor of argument, brilliance of insight, significance of findings, and clarity of expression. Although the book will engage and satisfy specialists in Islamic art and architecture, Anderson’s clear prose makes it accessible and valuable to anyone with an interest in a host of related fields.' The 2015 Eleanor Tufts Book Award Committee
'...an innovative study and an enjoyable read, conjuring a world of palaces and gardens, but providing at the same time a rigorous and serious study of the villa’s function and meaning at the Umayyad court at an important moment of the dynasty’s establishment and legitimation.' Mariam Rosser-Owen, Victoria and Albert Museum, UK
'Anderson’s meticulous study illustrates the ways in which the country residences (munya) located in the region of Córdoba formed an integral part of the political, cultural and economic life of the Umayyad dynasty. She demonstrates how ideas of sovereignty were intimately linked to the cultivation of the land, and provides important parallels between the munya and the Umayyad country residences of eighth-century Syria. This book makes a major contribution to our understanding of the culture of the villa in the Medieval Mediterranean.' Marcus Milwright, University of Victoria
'The Islamic Villa in Early Medieval Iberia provides a detailed and pleasant addition to literature on the Iberian peninsula, while expanding villa studies to encompass "nonWestern" examples. It will benefit those interested in this type of architecture as well as in the life and material culture of the Muslim elite of al-Andalus. Architects, historians, and art historians, as well as scholars and students of medieval culture, will undoubtedly enjoy Anderson's book.' Traditional Dwellings and Settlement