Mateusz Fafinski Profile picture
Aug 4, 2018 8 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
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 #lateantique #history
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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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