Between 1964 and 1971, renowned Islamic art historian Oleg Grabar, with sponsorship of the Kelsey Museum, directed a large-scale archaeological excavation at the site of Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi. Drawn to the remote eighth-century complex in the hopes of uncovering a princely Umayyad palace, Grabar and his team instead stumbled upon a new type of urban settlement in the Syrian steppe. A rich lifeworld emerged in the midst of their discoveries, and over the course of the excavation’s six seasons, close relationships formed between the American and Syrian archaeologists, historians, and workers who labored and lived at the site.

Featuring previously unpublished documents and illustrating over eighty photographs from the Qasr al-Hayr dig now housed in the Kelsey Museum archives, City in the Desert, Revisited recounts the personal experiences and professional endeavors that shaped the fields of Islamic archaeology, art, and architectural history during their rise in the U.S. academy.

City in the Desert, Revisited can be purchased from our distributor, ISD. The entire book is also available as a free PDF download from the Kelsey Museum website.