Safa Mahmoudian










I studied architecture at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, and continued my MA studies at the same university in architectural history, specialising in Iranian Architectural Studies. I wrote my MA thesis on architecture and urban spaces along one of the main water channels in 16th-17th century Isfahan, based on contemporary Persian textual sources and archaeological evidence. In 2014, I began my Ph.D. studies at the Department of Art History of the University of Vienna. I worked as an assistant for architectural drawings in a project on Ottoman architecture in the Balkans for two years. From September 2016 to December 2017, and again from September 2018 to March 2019, I worked as a pre-doctoral university assistant to the professor of History of Islamic Art of the University of Vienna. Since December 2017, my Ph.D. project has been funded by the Doctoral Fellowship of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. 

Research Interests:

History of Garden architecture and architecture in Western Asia, from the 8th to 18th centuries.

Current Research Project: „Concepts of Royal Garden Architecture in Lower Mesopotamia and Western Iran from the Eighth to Eleventh Centuries, Based on Textual and Archaeological Evidence“

My thesis, titled Concepts of Royal Garden Architecture in Lower Mesopotamia and Western Iran from the Eighth to Eleventh Centuries, Based on Textual and Archaeological Evidence, attempts to demonstrate the ways in which systematic and regionally focused study can shed new light on the paradigms of ‘Persian’ and ‘Islamic’ garden traditions and their continuity through time and space. My thesis uses a wide range of contemporary texts, including lexicons, geographies, histories and poetry, as a source on gardens in the region and period. The findings from these texts have allowed for a fresh reading of the published and unpublished archaeological evidence related to garden features, which had not been done systematically before. The results from the analysis of the textual and archaeological evidence have been used to answer specific questions about the formal and functional features of the gardens. For instance, what is the position of the hall of the throne in relation to the palace and the garden? What is the relationship between garden and environmental geography? What terminology is used for different garden types and architectural elements related to them? Furthermore, in my thesis, I have tried to answer the question of how the abundant textual and sparse material sources, which differ in nature and context, can be methodologically combined.


  • (with Mehrdad Qayyoomi), “The Norm of Mādī: Water Management System in Safavid Isfahan”, in Beiträge zur Islamischen Kunst und Archäologie, vol.5, edited by Markus Ritter, Ilse Sturkenboom, Fernando Valdéz Fernández, Wiesbaden 2017, pp. 57-69.
  • “Bahw in the Architectural Vocabulary of Third/Ninth and Fourth/Tenth Century Mesopotamia”, Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, Vol. 111 2021, forthcoming.
  • “The Fourfold Garden of Balkuwārā Palace, Revisited”, Jardins, pouvoir et société entre Orient ancien et mondes musulmans, de la Méditerranée à l'Inde, edited by Anna Caiozzo and Harit Joshi, Collection Jardins et société, Valenciennes, Presses Universitaires de Valenciennes, 2020, forthcoming.