FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON ISLAMIC ARCHAEOLOGYFirst International Congress on Islamic Archaeology under the patronage of H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey organised by IRCICA, Istanbul, Turkey, 8-10 April 2005

The First International Congress on Islamic Archaeology brought together ninety-three scholars and researchers in archaeology, art history and related fields from 20 countries. Thirty-four papers were presented during the sessions held over three days.

The congress aimed to create a forum for the exchange of research and excavation results on the archaeology of the Islamic period and to provide an opportunity for an evaluation of the state of the field, its problems and prospects. This paved the way for a reconsideration of the periodical and geographical divisions of archaeological studies so that they take into account the Islamic period and the Islamic geography together with existing divisions of the discipline.

The opening ceremony was held on 8 April in presence of H.E. Prof. Dr. Beşir Atalay, Minister of State, representing H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey. The Prime Minister was attending the funerals of Pope John Paul II in Vatican the same day. H.E. Prof.Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary General of the OIC, delivered an address at the opening ceremony, was present throughout the congress and chaired the closing session. The official guests at the ceremony included the Deputy Governor of Istanbul H.E. Mr. Cumhur Güven Taşbaşı representing the Governor of Istanbul H.E. Mr. Muammer Güler, the Mayor of Selçuklu (Konya) H.E. Mr. Adem Esen, the Consul Generals of OIC Member States in Istanbul, and a number of high officials.

IRCICA Director General Dr. Halit Eren gave a welcoming address, in which he underlined that one of the main objectives of IRCICA is to promote cooperation among universities, research institutions and researchers working on Islamic history, art and culture, and with this aim it had organised fourty-six congresses in various fields until the present one. He said that the concept of the archaeology congress was formulated by Professor İhsanoğlu three years ago and recommended by the Governing Board of IRCICA in 2002 for inclusion in the Centre’s work plans. The Organising Committee, comprising scholars of the field, gave valuable advice during the preparation of the congress. He pointed out that the orientations and findings of archaeological activities relating to the Islamic period possess the characteristics necessary and sufficient for being distinguished as “Islamic archaeology” within the discipline of archaeology. These studies give evidence among others, of cultural encounters and mutual influences between pre-existing local cultures on one hand and the Islamic culture on the other during the expansion of Islam. Thus, Islamic archaeology, in close relation with studies in history of art, uncovers facts and findings of interdisciplinary relevance on the cultural and social history of Muslim peoples, under their common aspects and their diversities.

H.E. Dr. Saad bin Abdulaziz al-Rashed, Deputy Minister for Antiquities and Museums, Ministry of Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, delivered an address, in which he said that as a member of the Governing Board of IRCICA and an archaeologist, he had attached great importance to this project from its inception. Dr. Al-Rashed said that the congress filled a big gap in its field. It brought together scientific findings on the sites and settlements of the Islamic period, certainly with the necessary references to the pre-Islamic period, and covering the classical period of Islam, that is from the beginning date of the Hijra era, 622 AD, until 15th century AD. Dr. Al-Rashed expressed his belief that the congress will promote cooperation and communications between the official authorities of Islamic countries as well as among the archeologists, art historians and related disciplines.

H.E. Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary General of the OIC, highlighted the importance of the congress’ theme and objectives. He pointed out that the Islamic period, which spans fourteen centuries of the history of mankind excluding the present century, encompasses many states, societies and cultures and that the archaeological heritage of this period includes elements of Islamic character as well as elements representing the mutual influences of cultures and religions, among them the interactions of Muslim cultures with other cultures. Thus to properly reflect the scope of the archaeology of this period, it is necessary to define it as Islamic archaeology. Archaeological activities and research relating to this period were conducted in a rather isolated way. Leading studies were done, but these were made possible thanks to individual efforts by researchers and some interested institutions. Efforts, if any, to establish this archaeology as a distinct field of study, were not far-reaching. IRCICA’s initiative aimed to fill this gap. Prof. İhsanoğlu said that with these aspects, and with respect to its organisation, networking and academic features, this congress could be considered as a beginning, being another innovative step taken by IRCICA to promote academic cooperation. The Secretary General said that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference gives importance to promoting international cultural and scholarly cooperation as a most efficient and objective means to better introduce nations and peoples to each other and establish mutual understanding among them. In this respect, the OIC General Secretariat will continue to encourage and support the activities of IRCICA.

H.E. Prof. Dr. Beşir Atalay, Minister of State, representing H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey, delievered an address in which he expressed appreciation of the activities of IRCICA that are always followed with interest by universities and research centres all over the world and many of which are pioneering activities in their fields. The Minister said that one reason for this success is of course the Centre’s policy which consists in monitoring developments in research fields within its purview to determine the needs felt and taking steps to meet them. He added that the Centre also brings fresh approaches and opens new avenues in the study of Islamic history and culture. Prof. Atalay recalled that the archaeology of the Islamic period, spread over fifteen centuries and on three continents, and full of major advances in human history, constitutes an epoch in itself and covers many subjects of research. Remarkably, the congress sheds light on the cultural and social history of this vast area which has been the cradle of civilisations since millennia. The Minister of State expressed his belief that the Centre will continue to undertake leading activities in its varied fields and re-affirmed the Turkish Government’s firm support to the OIC and IRCICA.

The following papers were presented during the sessions:

Abdullah Abdulhafez (Egypt), The Role of Waqf in Conservation of Islamic Monuments
Abdullah Nassif (Saudi Arabia), Ancient and Archaeological Remains in al-Ula Area
Ahmad Serrieh (Syria), The Results of Excavations at Tell Arbid
Ara Altun (Turkey), Excavations in Iznik
Aynur Durukan (Turkey), Some Considerations on the Mamluk Remains of Birecik (Şanlıurfa)
A. Osman Uysal (Turkey), Excavations at the "Fatih Foundry" in Demirköy: The 2003 and 2004 Seasons
Bahram Ajorloo (Iran), Islamic Archaeology in Iran: An Approach to Study the Cultural-Social Changes through the Islamic Era
Beyhan Karamağralı (Turkey), Islamic Coins Found in Ani
Dragica Zivkova (Macedonia), Archeological Research in Gradiste (Kale) –Skopje
Erhan Alpaslan, Cihangir Aydöner, Reşat Kafarov, Aslı Dönertaş, Hilal Yüce, Bora Erkan (Turkey), Preservation of Architecture by Use of GIS Tools
Filiz Yenişehirlioğlu (Turkey), The Archaeology of the Ottoman Empire
Franziska Bloch (Germany), Leisure Time in a Rural Estate of Umayyad Times: Two Board Games from Jabal Says
Gönül Cantay (Turkey), Excavations of Edirne New Palace 1999-2002
Günhan Danışman (Turkey), Critical Analysis of an Historical Archaeology of the Ottoman Empire: Breaking New Ground, and its Implications for Demirköy-Samakocuk Research
Hashim A. Al-Mousawi, Haider S. Yakub, Mohammed Ben Talib, Osama M. Ben Talib (Libya), Towards an Islamic Center for Preserving Monumental Cities and Buildings in the Islamic World
Haşim Karpuz-Osman Eravşar (Turkey), Archaeological Problems of Islamic Cities in Anatolia: Examples of Akşehir-Kayseri-Karaman
Ibrahim Boolaky (UK), The Importance of Archaeological Treasures and Heritage of Islam in the West
Jodi Magness (USA), Two Early Islamic Settlements on Palestine's Desert Periphery
Julia Gonnela (Germany), My Castle is My Home: The Early Memluks in the Citadel of Aleppo
Kenan Bilici (Turkey), Islamic Archaeology: An Orientalistic Rhetoric?
Machiel Kiel (Netherlands), In Search for the Disappeared Early Ottoman Building Complex in Kırkkavak, Uzunköprü, Edirne
Marwan Abu Khalaf (Palestine), The Islamic Pottery of Khirbat Shuwayka Excavations-El Bireh, Palestine
Mehmet Canatar-M. Hanefi Kutluoğlu (Turkey), Some Archaeological Records in Council of State Registers
Mir Saeed Moosavi (Iran), Bazaar and its Role in the Development of Iranian Traditional Cities
Mona Al Moadin (Syria), Ceramic with Luster of Ar-Raqqa
Nageela Yusuf (UK), Recognising Islam: The Archaeology of the Late Sixteenth Century Spanish Muslim Domestic Sphere
Oluş Arık (Turkey), Meaning and Function of Islamic Archaeology
Örcün Barışta (Turkey), A Report on the Excavations and Surface Surveys Took Place Between 1996-1998 at the Eyüp Sultan in Istanbul
Saad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Rashid (Saudi Arabia), Islamic Finds in Rabada
Sami Angawi (Saudi Arabia), The Heritage of the Prophet’s Seera
Scott Redford (USA), What is Islamic about Islamic Archaeology? Some Examples from Turkey
Şeniz Atik (Turkey), Üsküdar Square Excavations for Marmaray Station: Typical Approaches for Inner City Rescue Archaeology
Şükran Sevimli (Turkey), The Archaeology of Islam in Turkey: Hygiene Concept, Materials, Techniques, and its Application
Verena Daiber (Syria), Ayyubid-Mamluk Ceramics from the 2001-2004 Seasons in Baalbek
Zülküf Yılmaz (Turkey), Preliminary Evaluation of 2001-2004 Rescue Excavation of Ottoman Iron Foundry in Demirköy, Kırklareli

Cultural events organised on the occasion of the congress

A photograph exhibition of high documentary value, on the “Islamic Monuments of the Seljuk, Beylik and Ottoman Periods in Konya”, contributed to the congress by the Municipality of Selçuklu of the city of Konya, was opened next to the congress hall. The Mayor of Selçuklu Assoc. Prof.Dr. Adem Esen and his colleagues briefed the guests and visitors about the characteristics of the monuments.

On 9 April, an exhibition of “Archaeological Finds of the Islamic Period”, contributed to the congress by the Ministry of Culture of Turkey and organised at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Istanbul, was opened by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture Prof.Dr. Mustafa İsen.

At the closing session on 10 April, the Chairman of the Organising Committee Prof. İhsanoğlu thanked the participants for their papers and their contributions in the discussions. He underlined the two-fold objective of this first congress: in addition to offering a forum for the presentation of excavation and research results, it acted as the founding body of an institutionalised congress on Islamic archaeology to be held periodically. He said that the rate and quality of participation had confirmed that need was felt for a meeting of this kind in this field. A number of proposals and recommendations were formulated relating to the archaeological activities on one hand, and Islamic Archaeology as a field of study on the other. These proposals and recommendations were important because they emanated from the specialists of the field who deal with different aspects of Islamic archaeology based on their own observations and experiences.

The Director General of IRCICA Dr. Eren outlined the proceedings and the proposals and recommendations of the participants. He read the text of the Closing Statement of the Congress containing these recommendations. In line with the congress’ objective of institutionalising an international congress on Islamic archaeology, the draft Statute of the International Congress for Islamic Archaeology (ICIA) was to be finalised in the present congress, for review and adoption by the first General Assembly to be held during the next congress.

The participants expressed their views on the draft Statute and the Closing Statement, and unanimously adopted them.

Excerpts from the Closing Statement of the First International Congress on Islamic Archaeology

Participants in the First International Congress on Islamic Archaeology expressed their apprecation of the initiative taken by IRCICA to organise the congress with a two-fold objective so as to act as a forum for the presentation of excavation and research results and the founding body of the periodical congress on Islamic archaeology.

In relation with archaeological sites, monuments and objects, the congress participants underline that the archaeological sites must be preserved, protected from damage and destruction. No new construction shall be carried out on archaeological sites. Restorations shall be done in strict conformity with the originals.

The participants agreed that the congress be organized every three years. The first two congresses will cover general issues and subsequent congresses can address specific aspects of the field as well. … A wide geographic coverage of the papers will be encouraged. The congress can address some special themes of general interest such as concepts and terminology, training of archaeologists, participation of young scholars and if necessary, academicians, in the excavation projects in different countries.

The congress participants expressed their appreciation that some later periods and topics, such as industrial archaeology, were covered in the papers. Regarding language, future congresses shall be conducted in more languages, with Arabic and the working language of the host country in addition to English.

The congress recommended that a roster of specialists working in the field of Islamic archaeology be prepared, containing their addresses and fields. They agreed there must also be a data bank that would include the authorities of antiquities and museums in the Islamic countries and other countries where there are Islamic sites, because these are the focal points and liaison authorities in the countries concerned with Islamic archaeology. This data bank would also include the institutions and universities which have programs relating to Islamic archaeology.

The General Assembly to take place during the next congress will adopt the Statute of the International Congress on Islamic Archaeology. Until then, the Organising Committee shall act as the Executive Board of ICIA.

ICIA is established for the purpose of encouraging, facilitating, coordinating and publishing works and researches and organising scholarly meetings related to the Islamic archaeology as well as supporting archaeological excavations. It is affiliated to IRCICA. Through the intermediation of its Governing Council, it will coordinate research with a spirit of international cooperation, establish research programs, support collaboration among archaeologists or centers of archaeology, publish the outcomes of archaeological activities, and diffuse recommendations of its members on the state of studies and ways to develop and improve the activities. The Organising Committee is comprised of Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary General of OIC (Chairman), Prof. Dr. Saad bin Abdulaziz al-Rashed (member of IRCICA Governing Board); Prof. Dr. Günsel Renda (member of IRCICA Governing Board), Dr. Halit Eren, Director General, IRCICA, Prof. Dr. Oluş Arık, Prof. Dr. Machiel Kiel, Dr. Lorenz Korn.

A final session was held, in presence of H.E. Dr. Atilla Koç, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey. The Minister expressed his pleasure to see that the congress was held successfully with promising results. He pointed out the importance of archaeology for the Islamic countries, which all possess valuable archaeological properties.

On behalf of IRCICA, Dr. Eren expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the high patronage extended to this event. He conveyed his gratitude to the Minister of State Prof. Dr. Beşir Atalay for delivering an address at the opening ceremony and H.E. Mr. Atilla Koç for attending the final session and the Ministry’s contributing an exhibition of archaeological finds of the Islamic period presented at the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum. He expressed his profound gratitude to Professor Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu for initiating this congress and chairing the Organising Committee. He warmly thanked and expressed his appreciation to the members of the Organising Committee for their contributions to the event.