This gallery explores early Islamic art, focusing primarily on the Umayyad dynasty (661–750), whose capital was Damascus, and the Early Abbasid dynasty (750–ca. 900), which was based in Baghdad. Also highlighted are pre-Islamic traditions from ancient Rome, Byzantium, and Persia that evolved into Islamic art under the Umayyads. During the Early Abbasid period, the melding of influences from as far away as China and India resulted in a golden age of creativity.
Among the many treasures on view are an outstanding selection of manuscripts and early Qur'an pages in Kufic script. These are displayed alongside textiles from all reaches of the empire, from Yemen to Egypt, as well as ceramics, including luster-painted pottery; wooden doors in the beveled style from Samarra in Iraq; metalwork; and glass.