Islamic art and archaeology

Islamic art and archaeology

The section includes a rich collection of Islamic objects, acquired as a result of archaeological excavations or via purchase, from a number of different countries such as Spain, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and India. Chronologically, the material collected represents a long period from the 8th to the early 19th century. The collection also contains objects from different production classes:  pottery, metal work, miniatures, manuscripts, coins, jewelry, textiles, glass, weapons or armor and worked wood.


The Islamic section presents a selection of archaeological finds made at the palace of the Ghaznavid Sultan Mas‘ud III (1099-1115) in Ghazni (Afghanistan) unearthed by excavations conducted by the IsMEO (today IsIAO) Archaeological Mission in the 1960's. These pieces are for the most part architectural elements or decorations in terracotta and marble, and marble funerary stones, ceramics and metals.

The section also exhibits works dating from Iran over a period of time ranging from the 8th to the 19th century. Slip painted Samanid ceramics (9th-10th century) are well represented as are Seljuq pieces (eleventh-twelfth century), made in frit ware, luster painted or of the mina'i type. Other significant examples include productions from the Ilkhanid period (13th-14th century), notable for their use of the lajvardina technique and for the so-called Sultanabad pottery. For the most part the Islamic metalwork pieces are from the region of Khorasan (eastern Iran, western Afghanistan) which was a famous area for metallurgical production and date to between the 10th and 13th centuries. The pieces are in various forms and were made using varied techniques. They were made in copper alloy (brass and bronze) cast or wrought, and were decorated with engravings, in openwork, or with reliefs or inlaid with copper, silver and gold. The work of the Syro-Egyptian Mamluk period (13th to early 16th century) is represented by a series of valuable brass cups.
A small section is dedicated to numismatics and includes a collection of Islamic coins (from the 8th to the 20th century) from various areas (from North Africa to the Indian sub-continent).