After succeeding the Umayyads, the greatest realm at the time in which Marwan II was the last Ummayad caliph (744-50), the Abbasid caliphate rose in 750 and transferred the Islamic political and cultural life from Syria to Baghdad; the capital of Iraq and the imperial metropolis of the Abbasid dominion. It was known as the City of Peace (Madinah al-salam). This change also transformed the Umayyads' Arab empire into a multinational Muslim empire. There were many advances that took place in science, literature, philosophy and art.
The Abbasid dynasty ruled for three centuries (750-1258). Samarra was another city established by the Abbasids that is north of Baghdad. It is an abbreviation of ‘He who sees it rejoices’ and was the capital for nearly five decades (836-883). Today, Sammara is surrounded with many art and architecture from the Abbasids.
The Persians influenced the Abbasids via arts and sciences; whereas the ancient Greeks influenced the Abbasids with philosophy and sciences. Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), are from the Abbasid period whose work had a major impact in both the Muslim world and the West. There was a high peak of culture and knowledge under the Abbasid period described as the golden age of Islamic civilization. The map (left) shows the expanding territory of the Muslim world gained during the Abbasid reign.
There were a variety of arts that flourished through the Abbasid period such as pottery. Luster painting was the technique used for the art of pottery where it was used to decoration. It was first used in Iraq and then spread like dominoes to Egypt, Syria, Iran and Spain. The manufacture of luster-decorated pottery is time-consuming and costly and thus is seen as luxury. Lusterware varies in colour as shown (right) reddish brown and rich gold.
Arabesque – was a technique developed in Samarra that carved surfaces with abstract geometric forms. It was used as wall decoration, wood and stone. This design style was adopted in Egypt. Wood especially is decorated with care. Many palaces and mosques were built in Samarra that presented the style that was emulated and adapted in other regions such as Egypt and Asia. Below are some examples of Palaces:
Masajids during the Abbasid rule
The manara (minaret) is the place in which prayer is called and there is limited evidence that suggests that the Abbasids used it for this purpose rather it was suggested that its monumental size was used to alert people that this was a masjid.