Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid), Iran, Sculpture, bull head, 6th-5th century BC. Image and original data provided by Bryn Mawr College. Image © Bryn Mawr College

Extending from Morocco and North Africa to Turkey and Iran, the Middle East is interesting and complex economically, socially, politically, and culturally. The Artstor Digital Library offers many collections that document the rich history of the region that gave birth to the world’s earliest civilizations and major religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Islamic, Qur’an stand, 1360. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Explore these collections which focus mainly or exclusively on the Middle East and jointly feature approximately 100,000 related images: Islamic Art and Architecture Collection (Sheila Blair, Jonathan Bloom, Walter Denny): digital images of the art and architecture of Islam from the personal archives of a team of leading scholar photographers; Mellink Archive (Bryn Mawr College): archaeological excavations of ancient sites in Turkey and the Near East; Shangri La, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art: Syrian and Persian furniture, doors, and ceilings; Persian and Turkish tile panels and portable ceramics; and Central Asian, Persian, and Turkish textiles; Pattern in Islamic Art from David Wade: images illustrating patterns and design features found throughout the Islamic world; Barbara Anello: Photographs of Southeast Asia and Morocco: images of Morocco’s traditional earthen architecture in Ait Ben Haddou and Skoura, and the ancient Roman ruins in Volubilis; James Conlon: Mali and Yemen sites and architecture: includes contemporary photographs depicting architecture and cultural sites and objects in Tarim and many other cities, monuments, and sites in Yemen’s Hadramaut Valley; Dura Europos and Gerasa Archives (Yale): images of papyri, artifacts, and structures unearthed during the excavations of the ancient sites of Dura-Europos in Syria and Gerasa (modern Jerash) in Jordan, along with historical documentation of the expeditions; Egyptian and other Ancient Art (Arielle Kozloff Brodkey): images of the art, architecture, and archaeology of ancient Egypt, with special strengths in Theban tombs; Giza Archaeological Expedition Archive (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston): visual documentation of the Giza pyramids, workers at dig sites, interiors of excavated monuments, objects, and human remains in their original find spots, individual finds and artifacts, and Egyptians in modern-day Giza and Cairo; Plans of Ancient and Medieval Buildings and Archaeological Sites (Bryn Mawr College): site plans for key ancient and medieval architectural monuments and archeological sites relating to the Classical and Ancient Near East; and Sites and Photos: broad and in-depth documentation of the ancient world, including Classical, Megalithic, Islamic, Crusader, and Gothic archaeology and architecture, with a focus on religious and Biblical sites.

Abdullah Freres, Mosquée de Kaid Bey, 1850s – 1890. This image and data was provided by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

In addition, there are dozens of collections that feature images related to the Middle East in their wide-ranging content, such as Magnum Photos, which covers events like the establishment of Israel as an independent state, the Iranian Revolution, and the Iraq War, and George Eastman House, which features 19th century travel and landscape photography of the Middle East by photographers such as Abdullah Frères and Félix Bonfils. You can find tens of thousands further images by browsing by individual country: Choose Browse > Geography > and then pick the Middle Eastern country you are researching. You can choose a Classification to further narrow your results.

For teaching ideas, see our Sample Topic on Middle Eastern Studies. To view all our Sample Topics, visit the Digital Library and click on “Featured Groups.” Also, read Colette Appelian’s 2011 Travel Award-winning essay, “Online Teaching and Architectural Solutions to Climate Problems in the Islamic World.” For more interdisciplinary ideas, download Artstor’s Subject Guides.

Tapestry Square with the Head of Spring, Egyptian , 4th–5th century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art