The Islamic World A History in Objects

Venetia Porter, Ladan Akbarnia, Fahmida Suleman, Zeina Klink-Hoppe, Amandine Merat, William Greenwood


This illustrated introduction to the history of the Islamic world takes its cue from the British Museum’s outstanding collection of art and artifacts from Islamic lands, offering a penetrating insight into the history and culture of this region through everyday objects and treasures from the ancient world and recent works of contemporary art.

Arranged broadly chronologically into a series of thematic narratives, this book details the history of the Middle East and the greater Islamic world’s cultures through six chapters: the earliest history of the Islamic world, faith, interconnected worlds (trade and cultural exchange c. 600–1500), the age of empires (c. 1500–1900), literature and music and the modern world. In each case, the objects themselves serve as the gateway into the history of Islamic culture: familiar masterpieces, together with lesser-known treasures, provide new ways to learn about the Islamic world.

Written by a team of acknowledged experts at the British Museum, this book will shed new light on a fascinating and highly sophisticated culture, providing fresh insights for the scholar and the general reader alike.


Venetia Porter


Ladan Akbarnia


Fahmida Suleman


Fahmida Suleman is Phyllis Bishop Curator for the Modern Middle East at the British Museum. She is the editor of Word of God, Art of Man: the Qur’an and its Creative Expressions.

Zeina Klink-Hoppe


Amandine Merat


William Greenwood