Islamic Archaeology, Islamic Art and Architecture, Timurid Art, Medieval Jerusalem.
Current Research Projects:
- Excavations in Qrarqorum the capital of the Mongol Empire.
The excavation, funded by the Humboldt Foundation, is part of a Mongolian-German-Israeli project. This aims to collect and analyze historical and archaeological data on Qaraqorum.
- The urban development of Lud.
Following the community archaeology project that is held in the city since 2007 we seek to examine the urban development of the town and the conditions which led to the final plan of the medieval town. This may broaden our understanding of the other Mediterranean medieval towns. A bottom-up approach is used to track the town’s urban change; asking how the people living in the town designed the urban spaces and which spatial units mattered in their daily life.
- Representation of power under Timurid, Safavid and Mughal rulers.
My post-doctoral research that I’m conducting under the auspices of the Martin Buber Society of Fellows is titled: “The Transmission of artistic knowledge in Persian and Mughal Art: Illustration of the three rulers Sultan Husayn, Shah-Tahmasp and Akbar as an examination for representation of power.” In this project I plan to examine illustrated manuscripts from three different schools of painting: The late Timurid, the early Safavid and the early Mughal. Although, every school had its own nuance of the visual language, they all emerged from the same origin - the early fifteenth-century Timurid School of painting. Despite their common root, every branch evolved in a different context, to which it had to be adjust to: the late Timurid school (1469-1506) was under the patronage of a Sunni-Sufi elite in Herat, whereas the early Safavid school was affiliated to the Shi’ite regime in Tabriz, and the early Mughal school worked under the patronage of Akbar (r.1556-1605), whose search of a universal truth issued the Din-i Ilahi (Divine Faith).
- The Frescoes of Khirbet al-Mafjar. Khirbet al-Mafjar, one of the most famous Umayyad palaces, was intensively excavated by D.C. Baramki and R. W Hameilton in the years 1934-1948. The wall frescoes of Khirbat al-Mafjar were found fallen both on the floors of the palace and on the floor of the bath hall. Only a part of the fresco paintings was described in the final report by Hamilton with a stylistic discussion by Oleg Grabar. Lately two large files with many Aquarelle copies of the frescoes were found in the Mandatory Archive at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. The aquarelle paintings were prepared as part of the documentations done by the excavator. Dozens of the paintings in the files were not included in Grabar’s discussion. Furthermore, Grabar’s report includes only black and white reproductions while the paintings are colorful. I wish to re-examine the style and iconography of the wall paintings in comparison with the entire decorative program of the palace and bath hall. This may broaden our understanding of the decorative plans in other important Umayyad monuments.
For preliminary result of the project see: http://www.maxvanberchem.org/en/scientific-activities/projets/?a=135
List of Publications