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Mateusz Fafinski
At the outskirts of Jericho stands Khirbat al-Mafjar or the Hisham's Palace, one of the most remarkable structures of Late Antiquity, dating from the Umayyad dynasty period (probably the first half of the 8th C). It tells so many stories! /1
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Mateusz Fafinski 4 Aug 18
Replying to @Calthalas
It was discovered at the end of the 19th century but the main excavations were carried out by Dimitri Baramki between 1934 and 1948 (later joined by Robert Hamilton). You can read more about Baramki here: /2
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Mateusz Fafinski 4 Aug 18
Replying to @Calthalas
The palace was a lavish retreat connected with an agricultural complex with gardens, a mosque and a bath. It belongs to the group of "desert castles" that in their plan might be a creative development of a Roman fort or estate. /3 Plan and an article:
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Mateusz Fafinski 4 Aug 18
Replying to @Calthalas
The mosaic decorations of the Hisham's Palace belong to the most elaborate and most beautiful ones in the whole Islamic and Byzantine tradition. The most famous of them is probably The Tree of Life from the audience hall in the bath complex. /4
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Mateusz Fafinski 4 Aug 18
Replying to @Calthalas
It is difficult to say who actually commissioned the complex. Baramki found an ostracon with the name "Hisham" written on it, thinking it to be a proof that the palace was built by Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik (724-743), but the exact dating is tentative. /5
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Mateusz Fafinski 4 Aug 18
Replying to @Calthalas
Whoever built the complex of Khirbat al-Mafjar employed a wide range of artists and covered it with various forms of geometric and figurative art. It was an explosion of creativity that mingled Sassanid, early Islamic and Christian influences. /6
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Mateusz Fafinski 4 Aug 18
Replying to @Calthalas
Hisham's Palace (like other so-called desert castles) challenges the notions about early Islamic art as avoiding figurative depictions. It also shows how multicultural were the influences on the artistic expression in the period. /7
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Mateusz Fafinski 4 Aug 18
Replying to @Calthalas
Today the site remains a hidden gem with less than 50 000 visitors per year. One of the most stunning embodiments of what Late Antiquity, combining various functions (from representative to productive) and various styles, it holds the key to our understanding of the period. /8
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Mateusz Fafinski 20 Aug 18
Replying to @Calthalas
Hisham's palace was full of amazing and vividly painted early Islamic statuary. This sculpture, now in Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, is often described as depicting a caliph, based perhaps on the similarity of his posture to the "standing caliph" figure from Umayyad coins. /9
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Mateusz Fafinski 20 Aug 18
Replying to @Calthalas
Such coins, like this one from British Museum, mix the Byzantine and Islamic influences and show the caliph in a characteristic pose with a sheathed sword. /10 BM 1954,1011.2
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Jonathan Parkes Allen 4 Aug 18
Replying to @Calthalas
A buddy of mine and I stopped in Jericho last fall to get a bite to eat after a hike, then tried to find Hisham's Palace, and I swear we found every other archeological site except that one, finally ended up somehow at Jesus' Baptism site on the Jordan...
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Mateusz Fafinski 4 Aug 18
Replying to @Mar_Musa
There are some signs when you get to the city center but if you don't know where it is exactly it's quite hard to find, true!
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