The Manar al-Athar digital archive, based at the University of Oxford, provides high resolution, searchable images for teaching, research, and publication. These images of archaeological sites, buildings and art, cover the areas of the former Roman empire which later came under Islamic rule, such as Syro-Palestine/the Levant, Egypt and North Africa, as well as some bordering regions, such as Georgia and Armenia. The chronological range is from Alexander the Great (i.e., from about 300 BC) through the Islamic period. It is the first website of its kind providing such material labelled jointly in both Arabic and English.
Manar al-Athar is Arabic for "Guide to Archaeology" and has been chosen because Manara, in Egypt, refers to both the Lighthouse of Alexandria (the Pharos) and to minarets. This conveys the transition, and often continuity, covered by the chronological range of the material.
The digital archive is in continuous development. Current strengths include Late Antiquity (250–750 AD), the period of transition from paganism to Christianity, and then to Islam, especially religious buildings (temples, churches, synagogues, mosques) and monumental art (including floor mosaics), early Islamic art (paintings, mosaics, relief sculpture), as well as Roman and early Islamic (Umayyad) architecture, and evidence of iconoclasm.
The digital archive aims to:
- provide freely-downloadable images at high resolution for research and publication, as well as at low resolution for powerpoint slides for teaching;
- make images freely available for publication simply by acknowledging the source. See Copyright.
- have simple and accurate labels easy to search and organize, with bilingual text in Arabic and English to facilitate the use of the images for both teaching and research in the Arab world, where many of the monuments are located.