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Umberto Bongianino

Departmental Lecturer in Islamic Art and Architecture


I am principally interested in the architecture and material culture of the Islamic dynasties that ruled across the medieval Mediterranean between the 7th and the 14th centuries. My studies have focused on a number of topics, including the Islamic components of Norman Sicilian art, ceramic production and trade in Fatimid Egypt and Syria, Fatimid architecture and archaeology in Cairo, Tunisia, and Libya (Ajdabiya), and the arts of the book in the Maghrib and al-Andalus. Most recently, I have become interested in the notion of ‘word as image’ in Islamic art, and in issues related to the iconography of scripts, the extra-textual messages of inscriptions, and the ‘aestheticisation’ of Arabic writing in both religious and secular contexts: from tombstones to epigraphic textiles, from mosque scriptoria to royal chanceries.