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Middle East Studies: Image Collections

Guide to Middle East Studies: ancient, medieval & modern.

Online Photographic Collections -- General Middle East

Abdul Hamid II Collection (Library of Congress)

Ancient Near East Photographs (University of Washington Libraries)

  • Modern and ancient sites

Arab Image Foundation

  •  Its mission is to collect, preserve and study photographs from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora
  •  To date, the collection holds more than 600,000 photographs

Das Bild des Orients = The Image of the Orient

The E.W. Blatchford Collection of Photographs

  • From Jafet Library Special Collections of the American University of Beirut

Les collections du musée départemental Albert-Kahn

  •  Early color photography
  •  Middle East related photographs are located by using the map for locations or the subject bar (in French) on the left-hand side

Islamic Art Network

  •  Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation
  •  A team of photographers have been documenting the Islamic monuments of Cairo. Several thousands photographs of these monuments are now available for browsing and more are being added periodically. There are more than 400 Islamic monuments surviving in the city and the aim of this Archive is eventually to include photographs of all of them. The second step will be recording the monuments around the Islamic world, with cities such as Fez, Istanbul, Damascus and Isfahan fully exhibited.

Manar al-Athar

  • Based at Oxford university
  • English and Arabic

Matson (G. Eric and Edith) Photograph Collection

  • The G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection is a rich source of historical images of the Middle East. The majority of the images depict Palestine (present day Israel and the West Bank) from 1898 to 1946.

MECA Photos: Middle East Centre Archive

  • St Antony's College University of Oxford
  • The Middle East Centre Archive holds a substantial photographic collection of over 100,000 images covering all areas of the Middle East from the 1850s. The bulk of the collection consists of early to mid 20th Century photographs with a smaller number of 19th Century photographs including Bonfils and American Colony. Major Collections include the photographs of Freya Stark and St John Philby.

The Middle East in Early Prints & Photographs

  • New York Public Library Digital Collections. More than 1,100 prints and photographs from books and albums dating from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century.

Middle East Photograph Archive

  • Early photographs of the Middle East from the University of Chicago Library, Middle East Department

Moustapha Bouchoucha Photograph Collection

  • DLIR
  • The collection, held at the Beit El Bennani, contains 8155 images that depict people, events, views and objects primarily relating to Tunisia.

Orientalist Photography

  • The majority of the albumen photos where taken by professional
    photographers, including the Zangaki brothers, Pascal Sabah and Lehnert & Landrock.

Pattern in Islamic Art

  • 4000 images of patterns and designs
  • from the Wade Photo Archive

Photographic Archives of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago


  • Hosts exhibits of 19th and 20th century photographs

Royal Geographic Society (London) Picture Library

  • Over 2000 photographs, including those of Harry St John Philby's 1932 expedition to the Empty Quarter

Saudi Aramaco World Photo Archive

Travelers in the Middle East Archive

            Digital archive of 19th and early 20th century Western-Middle East interaction      

Online Photographic collections -- Special Topics

Afghanistan: Images from the Harrison Forman Collection

  • images that document the life and culture of Afghanistan in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Library

Alexandria Bombardment of 1882 Photograph Album

  • From the American University in Cairo Special Collections

The Architectural Heritage of the Ottoman Balkans

  • Michael Kiel photographic archive
  • From the Netherlands Institute in Turkey (NIT)

The Creswell Archive Online

  • From the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
  • the unique negative collection of Professor K.A.C. Creswell
  • Includes photographs intended for the 3rd, and unfinished vol. of his  Early Muslim Architecture, and Muslim Architecture of Egypt

Egyptian Mirage

            A database of 19th-century "studio photographs" of Egypt, mainly in the collection of the Griffith Institute, Oxford

Historical Photographs of the Land of Israel (Nazarian Library, U. of Haifa)

Iran in Photographs (Freer/Sackler Galleries)

Levant: Images from the Past

  •  Historic photographs and illustrations from the collections of American Univ. of Beirut
  •  Collections include those of the Bonfils Family & E.W. Blatchford, as well as several postcard collections

Levantine Mirage

            A database of 19th-century "studio photographs" of the Levant in the collection of the Griffith Institute, Oxford

Monuments of Syria: A Window on Syria's Past by Ross Burns

Photographs by Sir Wilfred Thesiger 1910-2003

  • from the Pitt Rivers Musuem
  • 1330 images

Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives

  • collection of 25,000 vintage & contemporary photographs

Sinai, Palestine, the Nile

  • Francis Frith Archive at George Eastman House

State of Israel National Photo Collection

UNRWA Audiovisual Archive for Palestine Refugees

  • Digitized archive which consists of over half a million negatives, prints, slides, films and videocassettes covering all aspects of the life and history of Palestine refugees from 1948 to the present day.  

Comprehensive Online Sources


  • a globally-accessible, scholarly resource focused on architecture, urbanism, environmental & landscape design, visual culture, and conservation issues in Muslim societies from MIT's Agha Khan Documentation Center

Artstor UCSB only

  • The image equivalent of JSTOR


  • Digital resources on all aspects of Iraqi history and culture from ancient to modern time

Online Poster Collections

Central Zionist Archives The Poster Collection

Middle Eastern Film Posters Digitization Initiative

  • from Princeton Univ. Digital Library (PUDL)

Palestine Poster Project Archives

  • Part of an M.A. project
  • a work in progress
  • four genres: Zionist & Israeli artists & agencies; Palestinian nationalist artists & agencies; Arab & Muslim artists & agencies; internationation artists & agencies

Poster Collection at the American University of Beirut (Jafet Library)

  • political posters collected between the 1960s and the 1980s

Signs of Conflict

  • political posters of the Lebanese Civil War, 1975-1990

Print Sources

Historical Photographs of the Middle East

  • 194 microfiches
  • ART REF DS44.5. S22 1985

Art Collections

Discover Islamic Art

      from the Museum with No Frontiers

      exhibits from the Middle East, North Africa, & Europe

The Islamic World from the Walters Art Museum

Film Collections

MED-MEM Mediterranean Memory

Initiated by Ina under the auspices of COPEAM (Permanent Conference of the Mediterranean Audiovisual Operators) at the request of the holders of audiovisual archives in the Mediterranean region, “Sharing our Mediterranean Audiovisual Heritage (Med-Mem)” offers the general public some 4000 audiovisual documents from the countries in the Mediterranean area. The TV and radio archives, set into their historic and cultural context, are accompanied by a trilingual documentary note (in French, English and Arabic).
Co-funded by the European Union as part of the Euromed Heritage IV programme, Med-Mem strives to raise the profile of a common heritage, and underpins the drive to safeguard Mediterranean audiovisual archives.

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