Sabrina S. Faber
THE ORIGINS OF THE MINARET: A STUDY OF THE FUNCTIONAL AND FORMAL ANTECEDENTS OF THE ISLAMIC TOWER.
(Under the direction of Professor Lawrence E. Babits) Department of History, July 1996.
The purpose of this thesis is to look at the origins and evolution of the minaret and to posit possible functional and formal links between minarets and other tower structures. Case studies will highlight the historical investigation of the minaret's origins and an anthropological approach will organize the data. The primary case study focuses on the Republic of Yemen's Aden Minaret, a structure at the site of the Aden's pre-colonial port.
This thesis draws upon the minaret examples throughout Arabia, North Africa, and Central Asia. Notably, minarets are different around the world, and there are exceptions to every general rule of regionality. The Aden Minaret, in particular, does not resemble Arabian minarets and strikingly resembles a lighthouse. However, lighthouses were not the only factors that influenced the minaret's structure. This thesis concludes that minaret form is derived from a variety of regionally-based structures, while still maintaining multiple functions that do not detract from its importance as a religious symbol in the Islamic world.