The Mamluk Sultanate (1250-1517): Urbanization, Architecture and Decorative Arts.

This course tells the story of the Mamluks, a slave dynasty and founders of a powerful sultanate that lasted for two and a half centuries (1250-1517). The sultanate was a military state whose frontiers extended from Egypt to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and the Hijaz (Saudi Arabia), but its power was concentrated in Cairo (al-Qahira). The “Slave Kings” stopped the Mongol invasion and drove the Crusaders from the Holy Land.


The Mamluk sultans were prolific patrons of architecture and contributed immensely to the fabric of historic Cairo, which reached the peak of its power and prosperity in the 14th century. Although Mamluk-designed buildings also appeared in Damascus, Jerusalem, Aleppo, Tripoli, Medina, and Mekkah, the sultanate’s greatest architectural achievements were seen in Cairo. Mamluk monuments were multi-functional complexes with complicated ground plans that exploited urban views and became colorful and lasting landmarks.


The Mamluks also encouraged the development of decorative arts and were masters of luster ware, enameled glass, marble mosaic inlay, luxurious wood carving, silversmithing, calligraphy, and manuscript illumination.


Class Recordings:

Class 1 - February 5, 2024

Class 2 - February 12, 2024

Class 3 - February 19, 2024

Class 4 - February 26, 2024

Venue: Online
Meets on: Mondays 3:30 to 5:30 PM
Starting: 2/5/2024
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 25
Teaching Style: Lecture with questions
Weekly Preparation: Optional
Group Leader Biography:

Maria Luisa F. Mansfield obtained her Ph.D. in Fine Arts and Middle East Studies (1988) and her Licence ès-Lettres and Maîtrise (MA) from L’Université de Genève. Presidential intern at The American University in Cairo. Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the Universidad Simón Bolívar - Caracas, Venezuela. Assistant-consultant to BEEME International (Mosque es-Semara, Morocco). Consultant to ARQUIOBRA, C.A. for The Mosque of Shaykh Ibrahim bin Abdul-Aziz al-Ibrahim in Caracas. Researcher and script writer for Cuadernos Lagoven, Venezuelan TV. Mrs. Mansfield lived in Cairo and Syria, and has traveled extensively in East and North Africa, and the Middle East. Associate Researcher at the Center for Urban Development Studies (GSD – Harvard University). Senior Researcher and Consultant to The Institute for International Urban Development, (Cambridge, MA). Instructor at Harvard Extension School, Cambridge, MA.