Name of Object:

Ivory panel


Aqaba, Jordan

Holding Museum:

Aqaba Archaeological Museum

Date of Object:

Hegira, first half of the 2nd century / AD first half of 8th century

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Carved ivory.


Length 30 cm, width 10 cm, depth 3–5 mm

Period / Dynasty:





An ivory panel that has been worked from a flat sheet; it varies in color from a very light brown to a rich brownish gray (burnt in antiquity). This panel is 90 per cent extant; carved in relief the scene represents a frontally disposed male figure standing in an archway. On his head, in profile, he is wearing military headgear. He holds in both his hands, vertically, what looks like either a long rod or an oar. The designs are carved carefully into the panel, in a vigorous, round style. The highest surface of the figure is at the same level as the surrounding frame, which is richly decorated with geometric motifs.

Small holes have been drilled into the panel, along with some other perforations, suggesting that several of these panels were assembled together by iron fasteners to decorate the doors of a small cabinet in the 'fresco room' in the palace of the Abbasid family at al-Humayma.

The Abbasid Caliphs based their claim to the caliphate on their direct descent from ‘Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib (AD 566–652) one of the youngest uncles of the Prophet Mohammad, by virtue of which they regarded themselves as the rightful heirs of the caliphate and overthrew the Umayyad caliphate. This panel is a luxury object that has stylistic affinities with Persian, central Asian, Indian and Coptic Art.

View Short Description

An ivory panel that was part of the decoration of a cabinet from the Abbasid family qasr (palace) at al-Humayma. Carved in relief, this is a luxury object that has stylistic affinities with Persian, central Asian, Indian and Coptic art.

How date and origin were established:

The object was dated by location in the archaeological strata and through related pottery objects found in the same context.

How Object was obtained:

The object was found during an archaeological excavation carried out in the site of al-Humayma in 1993–8.

How provenance was established:

The object was recovered during an archaeological excavation at the site of a-Humayma, but where it was originally produced is uncertain.

Selected bibliography:

Foote, R., Oleson, P., Humayma Excavation Project 1995–6, Max van Berchem Bulletin No. 10, December 1996, Geneva, pp.2–4.

Oleson, J. P., Amr, K., Foote, R., Preliminary Report of the Humayma Excavation Project 1993, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, XXXIX, 1995, pp.317–54, fig. 28; p.347.

Oleson, J. P., Amr, K., Foote, R., Preliminary Report of the Humayma Excavation Project 1995, 1996, 1998, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, XLIII, 1999, pp.411–50, fig. 20; p.442.

Citation of this web page:

Aida Naghawy, Manal Basyouni "Ivory panel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;jo;Mus01_D;15;en

Prepared by: Aida NaghawyAida Naghawy

Aida Naghawy is an archaeologist and the Director of Jordan Archaeological Museum. She studied archaeology at the University of Jordan where she gained her MA. She was affiliated to the Jordanian Department of Antiquities from 1974 as a curator of Jordan Archaeological Museum. In 1981 she became inspector of Jerash antiquities and co-ordinator of the Jerash International Rehabilitation project. She was also head of the archaeological awareness section at the Department of Antiquities. Aida is the author of numerous publications on Islamic coins. She has carried out excavation work in Jerash and is the founder of Jerash Archaeological Museum and the Islamic Museum of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.
, Manal BasyouniManal Basyouni

Manal Basyouni is an archaeologist and Curator at Aqaba Museum at the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. She studied at the University of Jordan where she gained her BA in Archaeology. She has been affiliated to the Department of Antiquities as Curator of Aqaba Museum since 1997. She has carried out several excavations in the southern part of Jordan especially in al-Humayma, Wadi Rum and Ayla.

Copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: JO 25


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