Matthew (Matt) Saba is Visual Resources Librarian for Islamic Architecture at the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT. As Visual Resources Librarian, Matt is responsible for researching, digitizing, and cataloging the collections, as well as facilitating reproduction of AKDC materials for educational and scholarly purposes.
Before joining the AKDC, Matt studied Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Art History at the University of Chicago where he wrote a dissertation examining the palaces of the Abbasid caliphs in Iraq. He has also worked as a curatorial fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and taught courses in Islamic art and architecture at The University of Chicago, Columbia University, and Marymount Manhattan College. His research interests include imperial building practices in late antiquity and early Islam as well as the history of Islamic art as a discipline. As a librarian he is involved in projects to create more robust and representative metadata schema for describing cultural heritage from the Middle East and Muslim world more broadly.
Saba, Matthew. "Architecture and Empire in Byzantine Constantinople/Ottoman Istanbul." Syllabus. Columbia University, New York, NY, 2016.
Syllabus for a class titled "Architecture and Empire in Byzantine Constantinople/ Ottoman Istanbul" developed by Matt Saba during a visiting lectureship at Columbia University in Fall 2016.
This seminar will examine the built environment of İstanbul (Constantinople), one of the world’s longest-lived imperial centers, from its establishment as the new capital of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire in the fourth century C.E., to its heyday as the center of the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century, to its remaking as a modern city in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries under the later Ottoman Sultans. The city’s fortifications, street systems, public squares, churches, mosques, palaces, and gardens will be explored with several questions in mind: how did Byzantine and later Ottoman architects use the built environment to solidify notions of power and project ideals of beauty? How did the strategies of imperial presentation change over time? To what extent did the city’s physical features (both geographic and architectural) dictate its development over time? In addition to exploring questions of İstanbul/ Constantinople’s architectural history specifically, assigned readings also serve to introduce larger theoretical and methodological issues in the fields of architecture, art history, cartography and historiography.