Fabrizio Anticoli


The excavations carried out in the South domed hall of the Friday Mosque of Isfahan brought to light several features of this structure's building stage. Three pits were retrieved in the centre of the hall, which once was occupied by the pillars of the grid of the ʿAbbasid mosque’s hypostyle in 9th century. These were identified as probable foundation pits for the building of a domed space arranged as that of the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus during the Saljuq period. This possible connection was analysed from different perspectives using different data (archaeological, epigraphical, art, and historical data) and provide different conclusions. A comparison between the archaeological data and the epigraphical record may highlight the possible liaison between the two buildings. This paper discusses some results of the 1970s excavations to prove how unlikely a layout such as Damascus could ever be adopted in Isfahan. Nevertheless, proven by the epigraphical record, the presence of the pits discovered by the IsMEO mission and the interest shown by Malik Shāh for Syria plead for a connection between the two mosques. Such connection could highlight the role the Damascene prototype could play in conceiving the pavilion the vizir Niẓām al-Mulk in Isfahan demanded.


Seljuk architecture; IsMEO; Sultanial authority; Malik Shāh; gonbad khane

Full Text:



[1] Sh. S. Blair, “Surveyor versus Epigrapher”, Muqarnas, vol. 8, issue 1, pp. 66-73, 1991. Doi:
[2] A. Gabriel, “Le Masdjid-i Djumẓa d’Isfahān”, Ars Islamica, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 6-44, 1935.
[3] A. Godard, “Les anciennes mosquées de l’Iran”, Āthār-é Irān, vol. 1, pp. 187-210, 1936.
[4] A. Godard, “Historique du Masdjid-é Djumẓa d’Isfahān”, Āthār-é Irān, vol. 1, pp. 211-282, 1936.
[5] A. Godard, “Les anciennes mosquées de l’Iran”, Arts Asiatiques, vol. 3, 48-63, 1956.
[6] A. Godard, The Art of Iran (transl. M. Heron). New York-Washington: Frederick A. Praeger Publisher, 1965.
[7] J. Sauvaget, “Observations sur quelques mosquées seldjoukides”, Annales de l’Institut d’Etudes Orientales, Université d’Alger, vol. 4, 81-120, 1938.
[8] E. Galdieri, Iḥfahān: Masğid-i Ğumḥa, 3 vols. Roma: IsMEO, 1972-1984.
[9] O. Grabar, The Great Mosque of Isfahan (Hagop Kevorkian Series on Near Eastern Art and Civilisation). New York: New York University Press, 1990.
[10] A. Godard, “Ardistān et Zawārè”, Āthār-é Irān, vol. 1, pp. 283-309, 1936.

[11] M. B. Smith, and Y. A. Godard, “Material for a Corpus of Early Iranian Islamic Architecture: II. Manār and Masdẓjid, Barsīān (Iẓfahān)”, Ars Islamica, vol. 4, pp. 6-41, 1937.
[12] R. Hillenbrand, “Saljūq Dome Chambers in North-West Iran”, Iran, vol. 14, pp. 93-102, 1976.
[13] F. Duva, “New Perspectives on the First Masjid-i Jumẓa of Isfahān”, Vicino Oriente, vol. 21, pp. 97-109, 2017.
[14] F. Duva, “Reproducing the Original Plan of the Abbasid Friday Mosque at Esfahan and its First Enlargement”, Iran, vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 41-49, 2020.
[15] L. Korn, “Saljuqs VI. Art and Architecture”, Encyclopædia Iranica, 2000. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 10-Mar-2023].
[16] L. Korn, “Saljuq Dome Chambers in Iran. A multi-faceted phenomenon of Islamic art”, Archäeologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan, vol. 39, pp. 235-59, 2009.
[17] L. Korn, “Between Architectural Design and Religious Politics: Aspects of Iranian Mosques of the Saljuq Period”, in Civiltà dell’Iran: Passato Presente Futuro. Atti del Convegno Internazionale (Roma, 22-23 febbraio 2013) (Il Novissimo Ramusio, 6), P. Callieri and A. V. Rossi, Eds. Rome: Scienze e Lettere, pp. 153-69, 2018.
[18] E. Galdieri, “Quelques précisions sur le Gunbād-e Niẓām al-Mulk dẓIsfahan”, Revue des études islamiques, vol. 43, pp. 97-122, 1975.
[19] E. Schroeder, “The Architecture of the Islamic Period. An Historical Outline, F. The Seljūq Period”, in A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Time to the Present, A. U. Pope and Ph. Ackerman, Eds., London-New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 981-1045, 1938-39.
[20] U. Scerrato, “IsMEO Activities. Archaeological Mission in Iran. Isfahan, Masğid-i Ğumẓa (1973)”, East and West, vol. 23, pp. 416-18, 1973.
[21] U. Scerrato, “IsMEO Activities. Archaeological Mission in Iran. Isfahan, Masğid-i Ğumẓa (1974)”, East and West, vol. 24, pp. 475-77, 1974.
[22] U. Scerrato, “IsMEO Activities. Archaeological Mission in Iran. Isfahan, Masğid-i Ğumẓa (1975)”, East and West, vol. 25, nos. 3-4, pp. 538-40, 1975.
[23] U. Scerrato, “IsMEO Activities. Archaeological Mission in Iran. Isfahan, Masğid-i Ğumẓa (1976)”, East and West, vol. 26, nos. 3-4, pp. 593-95, 1976.
[24] U. Scerrato, “IsMEO Activities. Archaeological Mission in Iran. Isfahan, Masğid-i Ğumẓa (1977)”, East and West, vol. 27, nos. 3-4, pp. 465-67, 1977.
[25] U. Scerrato, “IsMEO Activities. Archaeological Mission in Iran. Isfahan, Masğid-i Ğumẓa (1978)”, East and West, vol. 28, nos. 3-4, p. 329, 1978.
[26] K. A. C. Creswell, Early Muslim Architecture, 2 vols. New York: Hacker Art Books, 1979 (reprint of the 2nd edition [1969]).
[27] D. Wilber, The Architecture of Islamic Iran: The Il-Khanid Period. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955.
[28] K. Haji-Qassemi (ed.), Ganjnameh. Cyclopaedia of Iranian Islamic Architecture, 18 vols. Tehran: Shahid Beheshti University, 1996-2005.
[29] M. ẓAbbas-zadeh, and J. Danesh, “Architectural Structure and Historical Timeline of Masjid-i Jami at Urmia”, Journal of Iranian Architecture Studies, vol. 19, no. 7, pp. 91-113, 2021.
[30] D. H. Gye, “Arches and Domes in Iranian Islamic Buildings: An Engineer's Perspective”, Iran, vol. 26, pp. 129-44, 1988.
[31] M. Marini, “Geological Report”, Iḥfahān: Masğid-i Ğumḥa, vol. 3, 1984.
[32] F. P. Kamali, S. Ylmaz, and A. Moradi (2019), “Zone of Transition in Seljuq Dome Chambers of Iran”, International Journal of Architecture and Urban Development, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 5-18, 2019. Doi: 20.1001.1.22287396.2020.
[33] F. B. Flood, The Great Mosque of Damascus: Studies on Makings of an Umayyad Visual Culture (Islamic History and Civilization. Studies and Texts, 33). Leiden-Boston-Köln: E.J. Brill, 2001.
[34] R. Giunta, “The Saljuq Inscriptions in the Friday Mosque, Isfahan”, Four Lectures on the IsMEO Activities in the Masjed-e Jomḥe of Isfahan, B. Genito, Ed. Roma: IsMEO, pp. 7-26, 2018.
[35] G. Wiet, “Inscriptions Coufiques de Perse”, Mélanges Maspero, vol. III (Orient Islamique), pp. 127-36, 1940.
[36] R. Giunta, The Corpus of Seljuk Inscriptions in the Great Mosque of Isfahan: A Project for a Web Database, in Digital Archaeology from the Iranian Plateau (1962-1977). Collected Papers on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the demise of Umberto Scerrato, B. Genito, Ed.Napoli: Università degli studi di Napoli “LẓOrientale”, pp. 115-159, 2014

[37] E. Combe, J. Sauvaget, and G. Wiet (eds.), Répertoire Chronologique dḥépigraphie arabe, 16 vols. Le Caire: Imprimerie de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1931-1964.

[38] M. van Berchem, Inscriptions arabes de Syrie. Le Caire: Institut égyptien, 1897.
[39] G. C. Miles, “Inscriptions on the Minarets of Saveh, Iran”, in Studies in Islamic Art and Architecture in Honour of Professor K. A. C. Creswell, Ch. L. Geddes, Ed. Cairo: The Center for Arabic Studies of the American University of Cairo Press, pp. 163-78, 1965.
[40] H. C. Kay, “A Seljukite Inscription at Damascus”, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, pp. 335-45, 1897
[41] Sh. S. Blair, The Monumental Inscriptions from Early Islamic Iran and Transoxiana (Studies in Islamic Art and Architecture. Supplement to Muqarnas, 5). Leiden-New York-København-Köln: E. J. Brill, 1992.
[42] E. Herzfeld (ed.), Matériaux pour un Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum. Deuxième partie: Syrie du Nord. Tome I, volume I. Inscriptions et monuments dḥAlep. Le Caire: Imprimerie de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1955.
[43] M. van Berchem, “Matériaux pour lẓépigraphie et lẓhistoire musulmanes de Diyar-Bakir”. In Amida, M. van Berchem, J. Strzygowski, and G. Bell. Heidelberg: Carl Winterẓs Universitätsbuchandlung - Paris: Ernest Leroux, pp. 1-130, 1910.
[44] C. E. Bosworth, “The Political and Dynastic History of the Iranian World (1000-1217)”, in The Cambridge History of Iran. Vol. 5. The Saljuq and Mongol Periods, J. A. Boyle, Ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-202, 1968.
[45] C. E. Bosworth, Saldjūẓids, Encyclopaedia of Islam2, vol. VIII, pp. 936-59, 1995.
[46] L. Korn, “The Sultan stopped at ẓalab. Artistic exchage between Syria and Iran in the late 5th/11th century”, in Sonderdruck aus: Die Grenzen der Welt. Arabica et Iranica ad honorem Heinz Gaube, L. Korn, E. Orthmann, and F. Schwarz, Eds., Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, pp. 106-17, 2008.
[47] F. B. Flood, “A Group of Reused Byzantine Tables as Evidence for Seljuq Architectural Patronage in Damascus”, Iran, vol. 39, pp. 145-54, 2001. Doi:
[48] O. Grabar, “The Islamic Dome, Some Considerations”, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 91-98, 1963.
[49] R. Hillenbrand, Islamic Architecture: Form, Function and Meaning. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.
[50] M. V. Fontana, Ed. Umberto Scerrato. Saggi inediti e opera minora (Quaderni di Vicino Oriente, 7), 3 vols. Roma: Sapienza Università di Roma, 2014.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2023 Journal of Islamic Architecture

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Department of Architecture, Faculty of Science and Technology
Universitas Islam Negeri Maulana Malik Ibrahim Malang
Jalan Gajayana 50 Malang, Jawa Timur, Indonesia 65144
Phone (+62) 341 558933,Facsimile (+62) 341 558933
e-mail: /


 Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.