Crossing Frontiers is a travelling research seminar programme for Early Career Researchers interested in the medieval art and culture of the eastern frontier between Christianity and Islam, covering Anatolia, the Caucasus and the western Iranian world.
New information is being added all the time as the project progresses. To view national boundaries on the map, above, click on ‘Satellite’, then select ‘Label’.
The medieval buildings of Eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus are among the most remarkable works of architecture to survive from the Middle Ages. They comprise a diverse range of building types, including monasteries, mosques and madrasas, churches and caravanserais, bridges and bathhouses, mausolea and palaces. Mostly built in ashlar, the buildings are structurally complex, innovative in their design and construction, and are most often adorned with ornate, exquisitely carved ornament.
As the brief list of building types above makes clear, the structures belong to different religions – namely Christianity and Islam. They were also built by different cultural groups including the Georgians, Armenians, Seljuk Turks, Mengujekids, Saltukids and Artukids – among others. They are usually studied separately, categorised and divided according religion or culture, constrained by modern political and religious frontiers. However, the sharp lines that articulate and apportion contemporary maps – in order to designate modern nation states – impose artificial divisions that did not exist in the medieval world when borders were nebulous and different ethnic, cultural and religious groups were more closely intertwined than they are today.
This website introduces the monuments of the region. No immediate categorisation or distinction is imposed upon mosque or monastery, madrasa or mausoleum, so that they may be studied in relation to one another. These pages are intended to evoke the pluralistic world of this region in the Middle Ages, opening up the similarities and differences of these buildings for closer study. Our hope is that these pages will inspire further research into the networks of patrons and builders who traversed Anatolia and the Caucasus, and the common motifs and techniques that they carried with them.
Sites with an image have photographs available, through a clickable ground plan or an image gallery. Many of the sites in the list have a written report by one of the Crossing Frontiers team. New information is being added all the time as the project progresses.