Topics: Middle Eastern Archaeology
Middle Eastern Archaeology
Archaeology in the Middle East began with the study of the ancient Near East by Muslim historians in the medieval Islamic world who developed an interest in learning about pre-Islamic cultures. In particular, they most often concentrated on the archaeology and history of pre-Islamic Arabia, Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. In Egyptology, the first known attempts at deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs were made in Islamic Egypt by Dhul-Nun al-Misri and Ibn Wahshiyya in the 9th century, who were able to at least partly understand what was written in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, by relating them to the contemporary Coptic language used by Coptic priests in their time. Abdul Latif al-Baghdadi, a teacher at Cairo's Al-Azhar University in the 13th century, wrote detailed descriptions on ancient Egyptian monuments.[Al-Baghdadi and other Muslim historians such as Abu al-Hassan al-Hamadani of Yemen (d. 945) and Al-Idrisi of Egypt (d. 1251) developed elaborate archaeological methods which they employed in their excavations and research of ancient archaeological sites. The 15th-century Egyptian historian Al-Maqrizi also wrote detailed accounts of Egyptian antiquities.