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Art and Architecture: Middle East & Islamic

The Sackler Library is the premier research library for the study of art and architecture at the University of Oxford. It incorporates the libraries formerly housed at the History of Art Department and the Ashmolean Museum.

Oxford books

Oxford e-books

Eastern Art Publications Online (Ashmolean Museum)
Digitised versions of the Eastern Art Department's print catalogues.

Image databases


Union collection of image collections worldwide. Approaching 1,000,000 images covering all periods, all geographic areas and all types of art, architecture and archaeology as well as other subject areas in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Hisitory of Medicine and Science. Contributing collections include libraries, museums and archives, including the Bodleian’s Western Manuscripts and Incunabula collection. All periods, all geographic areas.

Bridgeman Education
300,000+ images of objects from museums, galleries and private collections, as well as buildings and monuments. Images cover visual culture worldwide, from pre-History to the present day. Media covered include photography, fine art, engravings, sculpture, architecture, the decorative arts, artefacts and applied arts. It addresses the interests of such disciplines as art, architecture, archaeology, anthropology, & ethnography, history, science & medicine. All periods, all geographic areas.

Creswell Archive
K.A.C. Creswell's photographs &/or negatives of medieval Islamic architectural history, prepared for his pioneering volumes Early Muslin Architecture and Muslim Architecture of Egypt.

Eastern Art Online (Ashmolean Museum)
Online access to extremely high quality images of objects in the Ashmolean Museum's Eastern Art Department collections.

Manar Al-Athar (University of Oxford)
High resolution images for teaching, research, and publication. These images of archaeological sites, with buildings and art, cover the areas of the former Roman empire which later came under Islamic rule -- e.g. Syro-Palestine/the Levant, Arabia, Egypt, North Africa and Spain. Chronological range: Alexander the Great (about 300 BCE) - present. (NB: The collection of images is small but their quality is excellent.)

Oxford libraries

Materials relating to the study of the art & archaeology of the Middle East and the Islamic world in general are collected broadly, and primarily in support of the research and teaching activities of Oxford museum curators and faculty.

Principal Asian geographic areas collected

  • Mediterranean Basin
  • South Aisa (Mughal period - C21st)

Other Asian geographic areas collected

  • Central Asia
  • Arabian Peninsula
  • South East Asia

Library collections

  • Sackler Library
    Holdings on the art & archaeology of the Middle East and the Islamic world are principally located in the Sackler's Eastern Art collection (Floor 3). NOTE: Materials on the art & archaeology of the pre-Islamic period (Ancent Near East & Egypt) are located on Floor 1.
    Older materials are an amalgam of collections from the Ashmolean Museum's Eastern Art Department, the Bodleian Library, and the Oriental Institute Library. These are shelved in the "Old Classification Sequence".
    More recently-acquired materials are purchased direct by the Sackler or are selected from the Copyright Receipt Office intake of legal deposit publications. These are shelved in the Library of Congress Classification Sequence.
    Works are collected in all relevant languages, in particular English & other Western European languages and, to a lesser extent, Arabic. All these materials may be found in the online catalogue, with Arabic-language items retrievable using transliteration. 

Other significant library collections

  • Balfour Library
    This library is attached to the Pitt Rivers Museum, and also functions as the teaching and research library of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. Its holdings on anthropology, ethnography and art history mostly cover cultural groups and geographical areas not addressed by the Sackler’s collections but the collections do include materials on (for example) Central Asia.

  • Bodleian Library
    While many publications on the art and archaeology of the Middle East and the Islamic world that are received by the Copyright Receipt Office are transferred to the Sackler Library, some are not. These publications are generally transferred to the Libraries' offsite facility, from which readers may request them for consultation at the Sackler.
    The Bodleian's South Asia collections include important holdings of Mughal manuscripts and miniatures. Research materials in support of the study of these items are collected at the Bodleian and/or the Sackler.
  • Oriental Institute Library
    Areas collected complement tha art & archaeology collections at the Sackler: Middle Eastern & Islamic (including Arabic, Persian & Turkish; Hebrew & Jewish; Japanese & Korean; Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian & Georgian; and South Asian.

Online catalogues, citation & full-text databases