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he expansion of the Arabs as a power in the 7th century AD was no gradual rise through ascending cultural levels, but a sudden eruption into the heartland of two of the greatest civilizations at the time. Persia and Byzantium. The former was conquered completely and of the latter, a great portion was claimed. Thus virtually at a strike, the Arabs were heirs to civilizations stretching back several thousands of years. However, with the rise of Christianity in Egypt, the ancient artistic traditions were studiously avoided, so in turn the Arabs found little in the provincial Byzantine style of Egypt to attract them, their requirement were very different from those of the static conquered population and none of the religious or aesthetic traditions were adopted.

At first, the main influences were from Mesopotamia, which contained the metropolitan centres of Islam. With the increase in independence from the time of Ibn Tulun (868) onward, local styles emerged.

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