Umberto Bongianino


Departmental Lecturer in Islamic Art and Architecture

Faculty / College Address:

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies / Wolfson College



M.Phil. in Islamic Art and Archaeology (2011-13)

'"And their figures and colours should be different". Carved and incised frit-wares from Fāṭimid Fusṭāṭ'

D.Phil. in Oriental Studies (2013-17)

'The origin and development of Maghribī scripts: epigraphic and calligraphic traditions of the western Islamic lands'

Research Interests:

I am principally interested in the architecture and material culture of the Islamc Mediterranean between the 10th and the 15th centuries. My studies have focused on a number of topics, including the Islamic components of Norman Sicilian art, ceramic production and trade in Fatimid Egypt and Syria, Fatimid architecture and archaeology in Cairo, Tunisia, and Libya (Ajdabiya), and the history of Islamic calligraphy and epigraphy in the pre-modern period. My doctoral research concentrated on the arts of the book and manuscript culture in the Maghrib and al-Andalus, between the 10th and the 13th centuries. That resulted in my first monograph, titled The Manuscript Tradition of the Islamic West: Maghribī Round Scripts and the Andalusī Identity (Edinburgh University Press, 2022). I am currently shifting my research focus towards the calligraphic traditions of later periods, the visual culture of the late medieval and early modern Maghrib as discussed in contemporary Arabic sources, and Moroccan epigraphic textiles from the nineteenth century. My main aim is to debunk outdated perceptions of, and narratives around, the arts of the Islamic West and their position vis-à-vis the Islamic East and Christian Europe.

Umberto Bongianino