Are there any pre-Islamic statues in middle east which were spared and preserved by medieval Muslim dynasties?

Oct 2015
1,047
India
#21
@HardtackJuniper

My documentation / study was limited to Indian Subcontinent and the observation for Pakistan till 1200 CE. In Pakistan, the oldest Islamic monuments to survive are the Tombs of Samma dynasty (1351-1524 CE).

If you are aware of any other details, please do share.
 
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Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,006
Canary Islands-Spain
#22
You're over-interpreting that I would somehow be unaware of prior periods of fundamentalism and iconoclasm in Islam. (As I said, mileage varied.)

There's no actual prohibition in the Quran. There are in the Hadiths. As a consequence the question of a depiction has always been a contested one in Islam, and that is a matter of recorded history. But "iconoclastic by definition"... That's a more radical interpretation.

Judaism and Christianity might as well be called iconoclastic by definition then. It's in the ten commandments either way. How it actually worked out historically also varied. Protestantism certainly went quite far in its iconoclastic tendencies in the 16th c., as a matter of reviving the Old Testament as its central religious text on equal footing with the New.

And Islam certainly has produced a rather stunning amount of pictoral art for being iconoclastic by defintion. Including of the prophet himself.
View attachment 15165

There seem to be a general pattern on what happened with Islam phobia to icons

First - The early wave conquerors were deeply iconoclast, as Muhammad was, and they carried massive destructions of existing images

Second - A daily live truce is stablished, new generations of Muslims grow less concerned about the issue, they live beside other religions images or don't take the iconoclasm far, as long as it is discrete. Even Muslims experience with iconodule creations. Society is stable and pacific in general, might too much (demilitarization also take place, leaving war affairt to mercenaries or slave-warrior minorities)

Third - A new wave of integrist reformers try to reset all the issue, turn to be extremely iconoclast and reject all kind of representation; they usually go into new conquests. This can happen as an attempt of some groups to seize and expand power, or under heavy pressure on Muslim societies from external foes

Forth - Rules relax again...

And so go on...
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,713
Blachernai
#23
The Kanishka statue was excavated by Western archaeologists. Are there any example of Muslims excavating and preserving pre-Islamic ancient statues during medieval period?
Not excavating, since we can't say that anyone did that, but they do seem to have appreciated Constans II's haul of ancient statuary from Rome that was sitting in Syracuse. See the later pages of Coates-Stevens' 'The Byzantine Sack of Rome'.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,713
Blachernai
#24
It's why Greek statues parts ended as columns in Byzantine underground cisterns, for example.
Bits and pieces ended up as spolia, but as a whole the ancient statuary in Constantinople underwent several phases of movement and interpretation and seems to have been prominently displayed throughout the city. For the early period, see Sarah Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople. For primary texts that have been translated, the Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai (8th c.?) and the Patria of Constantinople (10th c.) demonstrate that ancient statuary was scattered throughout the city. Arab visitors also mentioned statuary, and some summaries can be found in El-Cheikh's book.

If you want to know more, @JeanDukeofAlecon is likely to have more specifics than I do.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,713
Blachernai
#25
There seem to be a general pattern on what happened with Islam phobia to icons

First - The early wave conquerors were deeply iconoclast, as Muhammad was, and they carried massive destructions of existing images
Based on what evidence? And how do you explain Qusayr 'Amra?
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,006
Canary Islands-Spain
#26
Qusayr 'Amra was built a century after the rise of Islam, by Umayyad Caliphs that were considered impious by most of Muslims. This is one of the causes of their demise against the more integrist (by the time) Abbasids.

In regard to the phases I pointed before:

-Muhammad and the first Caliphs ordered total destruction of images. This is perfectly attested, for example, when Muhammad wiped out all icons in Mecca

-A phase of accomodation to local traditions and quite coexistence happens, as with the Umayyads, in Al-Andalus or in the mature sultanates of Central Asia

-A phase of revival usually happens: the Abbasids (early), the Almoravids and Almohads, the Fulani Revolution in Africa etc
 
Oct 2013
14,080
Europix
#27
Bits and pieces ended up as spolia, but as a whole the ancient statuary in Constantinople underwent several phases of movement and interpretation and seems to have been prominently displayed throughout the city. For the early period, see Sarah Bassett, The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople. For primary texts that have been translated, the Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai (8th c.?) and the Patria of Constantinople (10th c.) demonstrate that ancient statuary was scattered throughout the city. Arab visitors also mentioned statuary, and some summaries can be found in El-Cheikh's book.

If you want to know more, @JeanDukeofAlecon is likely to have more specifics than I do.
Thank You, Kirialax.

I was merely pointing what I think it's a projection: archeology, digs, preservation.

There wasn't such an aproach in medieval period, be it Islamic or else.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,053
#28
There was not only Byzantine Christian iconoclasm, but also Calvinist iconoclasm. In East Anglia, which was a strongly Puritan part of England which includes Cambridge, Puritans broke the stain glass windows of churches by throwing rocks at them or whatever. Congregationalist Churches in the US do not have stain glass windows and originally Baptist and some other denominations churches did not have them. There was a protestant movement away from statues and so on.
 
Jan 2016
1,114
Victoria, Canada
#29
I was merely pointing what I think it's a projection: archeology, digs, preservation.

There wasn't such an aproach in medieval period, be it Islamic or else.
You'd be surprised actually, at least in the case of Constantinople. Active digs and archaeological examinations as they developed in the 18th and 19th centuries obviously weren't done, but the emperors and city administration of the early and middle periods were very active in cataloguing, preserving, and restoring the antique facilities, buildings, monuments, and statues of the city -- some more than others, and in ways we might not do so today, but they rarely let important structures fall into ruin completely, or important statues be destroyed. There were definitely a lot of casualties across the centuries, as Constantinople was and is prone to very damaging earthquakes and the occasional fire, but in general the city's ancient heritage was incredibly well-preserved before the Fourth Crusade came along.

Some notable examples of preservation and restoration include Constantine V's extensive repairs to the Hagia Eirene after it was badly damaged in an earthquake; an unnamed patrician's renovation and reopening of a monumental bathhouse in the early 9th century; Basil I's repairs and renovations of some 30-40 churches in and around Constantinople after another particularly bad earthquake (adding buttresses, replacing rotting timber roofs with domes, etc.; described in detail in the Vita Basili ); Constantine VII's extensive restoration of the Walled Obelisk in the Hippodrome, repairing the polished stone shell and sheathing the obelisk in polished bronze panels depicting the victories of Basil I, and his restoration of the Hall of the 19 Couches; Basil II's partial rebuilding of the Hagia Sophia after a large section of the church, including part of the main dome, collapsed in 989; Romanos III's restoration of the Strategion Forum and Valens Aqueduct; and Manuel Komnenos's reinforcement and partial reconstruction of the Column of Constantine after its statue and top few drums fell in a gale, replacing the destroyed statue of Constantine with a huge gilded cross. We also know that a number of the city's notables -- such as Michael Psellos -- maintained extensive antiquarian art collections, which would have rescued many statues not already under public protection. On a related note, we also hear of Michael Choniates, Bishop of Athens in the late 12th century, commissioning a fresco depicting Athens as it existed in the 5th century BC, which unfortunately doesn't survive but was remarkably ahead of its time in its basic concept.

Some relevant reconstructions from Antoine Helbert:

A view of the Hagia Sophia and the Augoustaion (the forum), with their columns and statues:



The Hippodrome, Lausos Palace, Mese (main street), and Praetorium circa 1200:



The Forum of Constantine, before the 12th century (aside from the statue on the column, all statues remained intact until they were melted down by the Crusaders):



The evolution of the column of Constantine (original, after Manuel's restoration, and after 1204):



And the Forum of Theodosius (Forum Tauri):



We also have stuff like this (right), from a 12th century illuminated manuscript, and years ago I made a thread on the various statues portrayed in the Menologion of Basil II (although in retrospect I disagree with a lot of my original commentary, especially in the rest of the thread, so I would stick to the images):

 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,383
San Antonio, Tx
#30
From what i have read, the ancient statues that we see in Museums of Muslim world, were excavated by westerns. Muslims either destroyed the ancient pre-islamic statues or defaced and disfigured in the regions dominated by them. Are there any pre-Islamic statues which were spared and preserved by Muslim kingdoms and empires before arrival of Europeans?

The question popped into my mind after reading this news of 2001 in which Taliban destroyed statues of Kabul Museum Taliban destroys Kanishka statue
I spent a couple of years in Tunisia where there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of stone-cut statues, most with their heads missing but with the remainder intact. Tourism is big business in a small country like Tunisia.