Milwright, Marcus

Professor, Director for the Medieval studies program


Phone number: (250) 721-6302
Department: History in Art

Research description:

-Islamic Art and Archaeology
-Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Medieval Mediterranean
-History of Medicine
Expertise Profile
Imagine a city destroyed during a period of conflict. What happens to its culture and artifacts?

Conflicts in Middle Eastern nations, such as Syria, threaten traditional craft-making, an important dimension of Islamic culture that people have preserved for hundreds of years. "I fear that a lot of traditional manufacturing will just disappear along with so many other aspects of this very diverse culture," Marcus Milwright says.

Dr. Milwright studies the art and archeology archaeology of the Islamic world to record and preserve our knowledge of the crafts created between the 7th and 19th centuries in the Middle East. He studies the people involved in the practice of the crafts and the techniques they employed. Islamic artists have left little information behind, making it even more important to study their work and learn more about them.

To increase our knowledge of Islamic artwork, Dr. Milwright is translating an Arabic dictionary about the crafts of Damascus. The dictionary was written somewhere between 1890 and 1906, a period we know surprisingly little about. "This important text provides a wonderful opportunity to correlate descriptions of what people were doing to the surviving objects," Dr. Milwright says.

Dr. Milwright also ensures that his students can increase their understanding of Islamic crafts, and uses actual artifacts in his classes: "We can have one-to-one experiences with 10th-century Koran pages, or 7th- century coins. It takes you away from the projected image on the wall to actually understanding the tangible qualities of objects," he says.

Related Links
Dr. Milwright's Faces of UVic Research video:

International research:

Dr. Milwright's research is conducted in Jordan, Syria and Iran. This research consists of archaeological projects (excavations and field surveys) and architectural surveys.

Countries lived or worked in:

-The United Kingdom -Jordan -Syria and Iran

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