Imperial Ideology and Architectural Heritage: Damascus under the Mamluk Sultans (1260-1516 A.D.)


The middle of the 13th century saw the rise of a very powerful ‘Turkic’ regime in the Middle East, the Mamluk Sultanate. Ruling an empire that stretched from Anatolia to Egypt and beyond, the political-military elites of the sultanate, the mamlūks, greatly invested in urban building activities. Despite being funded by private assets and initiated by individual members of the elite, these buildings played a major role in the organization of the imperial public services: as such these legitimized the rule of political elites and conveyed a certain imperial ideology.
This project aims to investigate the interrelationship between imperial ideology and architecture, by analysing six monumental buildings erected by Mamluk elites in Damascus. It builds on two major debates in Mamluk Studies: the socio-political organization of the Mamluk sultanate and the complexities of the public-private divide in premodern governance.
Raising the crucial questions why Mamluk elites invested so much in building monuments, which representations of rulership they tried to convey and how these changed, this project will break new ground in our understanding of the relationship between imperial ideology and architectural heritage of Turkic regimes. As such it will greatly contribute to the VICI-project Turks, Texts and Territory.





Prof. dr. G.R. van den Berg

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leids Instituut voor Regiostudies (LIAS)


G. Yaghi


01/03/2019 tot 31/01/2020