Dr. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis

About Dr. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis

Dr. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis is Contributing Editor for the Arts of the Islamic World. She is an archaeologist and architectural historian. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor at the Graduate Center at CUNY and serves on the governing board of the Archaeological Institute of America. She has a DPhil in Classical Archaeology from Oxford University.

The Damascus Room (detail)
The sound of the fountain led guests into this 18th-century house, where a vibrant interior stimulated ear and eye.

Qa’a (The Damascus room)

Alexander Sarcophagus
Alexander the Great conquered the known world, but who was this monument for and what does it symbolize?

The Alexander Sarcophagus

The Hagia Sophia as a mosque
After the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, the sultan repurposed this church, adding slender “pencil” minarets.

Hagia Sophia as a mosque

Mihrab from Isfahan (Iran) (detail)
This prayer niche once pointed students towards Mecca. Its blue and white patterns comprise verses from the Qur’an.

Mihrab from Isfahan (Iran)

Medallion Carpet, The Ardabil Carpet, Unknown artist (Maqsud Kashani is named on the carpet's inscription), Persian: Safavid Dynasty, silk warps and wefts with wool pile (25 million knots, 340 per sq. inch), 1539-40 C.E., Tabriz, Kashan, Isfahan or Kirman, Iran (Victoria and Albert Museum)
This wool carpet was woven for a shrine. Its dense design contains geometric patterns, floral motifs—and two lamps.

The Ardabil Carpet

Pyxis of al-Mughira, possibly from Madinat al-Zahra, AH 357/ 968 CE, carved ivory with traces of jade, 16cm x 11.8 cm (Musée du Louvre, Paris) (photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
This florid box, designed to hold cosmetics, attests to the rich ivory carving tradition of Islamic Spain.

Pyxis of al-Mughira

The Kaaba, granite masonry, covered with silk curtain and calligraphy in gold and silver-wrapped thread, pre-Islamic monument, rededicated by Muhammad in 631-32 C.E., multiple renovations, Mecca, Saudi Arabia (photo: The Kaaba in the Masjid el Haram, 2010 Tab59, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Located in Mecca, this square shrine is the holiest site in Islam. Muslims direct their prayers toward it.

The Kaaba