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The Bryas Palace of Theophilus - MA Thesis NYU 1976.pdf
  • Carol M Bier, Institute of Fine Arts
According to the Continuation of the chronicles of Theophanies the Bryas Palace of Theophilus (829-842) was built in imitation of an Arab palace. The present inquiry into its Islamic source offers a new interpretation of the Bryas Palace within the context of Middle Byzantine secular architecture and the development of court ceremonial. The passage that describes Theophilus's palace explains that it was inspired by the Embassy of John the Synkellos to the Abbasid court. Historical circumstances place this embassy between 829-832, during the reign of Caliph al-Ma'mun (819-833). Textual sources indicate he had three palaces in Baghdad. None has been identified, but plans and general architectural features may be suggested through an examination of archaeological evidence for early Abbasid palaces, supplemented by literary references to the caliphate residences of al-Ma'mun, his father, Harun al-Rashid, and his brothers, al-Amin, and al-Mu'tasim - his predecessors and successors in Baghdad.
  • Bryas Palace,
  • Theophilus,
  • Middle Byzantine architecture,
  • Abbasid architecture,
  • Baghdad
Publication Date
Field of study
Fine Arts, History of Art, History of Architecture, Islamic, Byzantine
Institute of Fine Arts
T. F. Mathews
(c) Carol Bier, 1976
Citation Information
Carol Manson Bier, "The Bryas Palace of Theophilus," MA Qualifying Paper, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (1976). Available at: