Juan de Lara
Dr. Juan de Lara is an archaeologist, art historian, and digital engineer with a base in London. He holds the position of a fellow at the UCL Institute of Archaeology and is an Associate Researcher at the University of Oxford – Khalili Research Centre, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. De Lara is also the Director of the Armenian Institute in London. Dr De Lara’s academic expertise encompasses extensive research in the archaeology of the ancient and late antique Mediterranean and Near East. Additionally, he has delved into the development of Early Islamic cultures. His scholarly pursuits aim to comprehend and substantiate the continuity of Late Antiquity within the Islamic world, shedding light on the cross-cultural networks that flourished among societies during this period. Currently, De Lara is engrossed in a research project focused on the culture of Qaryat al-Fāw, a significant mercantile emporium strategically positioned at the crossroads of the major powers of its time. Beyond this research, he has applied his skills to the digital reconstruction of various sites worldwide, including the Acropolis of Athens and the city of Ai Khanoum in Afghanistan.
The City of Paradise: Qaryat al Fāw – an emporium between the Classical and Islamic world
Qaryat al-Fāw, also known as ‘The City of Paradise,’ was a pre-Islamic site located in central Arabia, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kindah, and a mercantile emporium at the crossroads of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Mediterranean. In this city, the first known written mention of ’Allāh’ was found, thereby unveiling its crucial role in the development of Islamic culture. Many wondrous artifacts have been discovered from this site, but among the most beautiful are a set of Classical- style frescoes. These murals serve as a valuable foundation for comparative analysis with the art of the early Umayyad period, particularly the opulent desert palaces like Qaṣr ‘Amrah. Ultimately, these artworks offer a glimpse into the art of the Arabian Peninsula.