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Ozymandias Syndrome

Robert Irwin, 24 August 1995

Islamic Architecture 
by Robert Hillenbrand.
Edinburgh, 645 pp., £49.50, November 1994, 0 7486 0479 0
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The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250-1800 
by Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom.
Yale, 348 pp., £45, August 1994, 0 300 05888 8
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The Mosque: History, Architectural Development and Regional Diversity 
edited by Martin Frishman and Hassan-Uddin Khan.
Thames and Hudson, 288 pp., £36, November 1994, 0 500 34133 8
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Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey 
by Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby.
Alexandria Press/Laurence King, 384 pp., £60, July 1994, 1 85669 054 7
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... Je vous salue, ruines solitaires, tombeaux saints, murs silencieux!’ In 1782, Constantin-François Chassebeuf, alias Volney, travelled through Egypt and Syria. Everywhere he was struck by the contrast between the region’s present misery and the architectural evidence of its former wealth and grandeur. It was while meditating in the ghost city of Palmyra that he was inspired by the spirit of the place to write Les Ruines, ou Méditations sur les révolutions des empires (1791), a treatise in which reflections on the moral causes of the downfall of ancient Oriental despotisms led on to a declaration of faith in progress and the principles of the French Revolution ...

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