Name of Object:

Marble balustrade



Holding Museum:

Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif

About Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem

Date of Object:

Hegira 6th century / AD 12th century

Museum Inventory Number:

ز/ م/44

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Hewn and carved marble.


Height 84 cm, length 348 cm, depth 12 cm

Period / Dynasty:





A marble balustrade consisting of nine adjoining pointed arches identical in form and dimensions, and supported by coupled columns of which there are close to 20. The details on the columns as well as on the capitals differ from each other but each pair of columns and their corresponding capitals are identical. The spandrel, the area between the arches, is ornamented with a series of carved marble circles. The column capitals assume one of two forms: the first resembles a finely detailed and knotted Corinthian capital and the second inclines more toward simplicity, approximating a whirling pomegranate blossom. The arches are decorated with carved ornamentation in the form of a knight's blazon. The decorative details on the pillars are varied but are distinguished generally by a chain of number “7s” wrapped around the body of the column in a vertical or horizontal format. The arches rest on marble panels, each supported by a pair of capitals on top of the coupled columns.
This balustrade was originally in the Aqsa Mosque, where it is likely that its function was decorative. It was then transferred to the Islamic Museum following the renovation of the mosque. It is possible that this piece is tied to, with regard to the material, craftsmanship and technique of carving, a Crusader frieze (also at the Museum), which was transferred from the Dome of the Rock. Perhaps this piece was crafted in the same workshop as an atelier renowned for its high-quality carved marble was active in the Haram al-Sharif during the same period.

View Short Description

This is a marble balustrade composed of nine adjoining tapered arches, identical in form and dimensions. They are supported by pairs of close to 20 pillars. The balustrade is a product of the Crusader period (Romanesque style). It is relatively simple in appearance and detail. It was placed in al-Aqsa Mosque for decoration.

Original Owner:

Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem

How date and origin were established:

This piece was dated by comparison of both its technique and artistic style with pieces produced in the same period in Palestine, which were acquired by the Islamic Museum.

How Object was obtained:

The piece was transferred from al-Aqsa Mosque in 1938.

How provenance was established:

The registers of the Islamic Museum indicate that the piece was transferred from al-Aqsa Mosque to the Islamic Museum in 1938. The balustrade appears in photographs published by R. W. Hamilton in 1949 showing the interior of the mosque before the balustrade was moved to the Museum. It is plausible that it was made in Jerusalem since large architectural pieces were usually made on site and a workshop was active in the Haram al-Sharif during the same period.

Selected bibliography:

Hunt, L. A., “Crusader Sculpture and the so-called Templar Workshop: A Reassessment of Two Carved Panels from the Dome of the Rock in Al-Haram al-Sharif Museum in Jerusalem”, in Palestine Exploration Quarterly, No. 132, 2000.
Jacoby, Z., “The Workshop of the Temple Area in Jerusalem in the Twelfth Century: Its Origin, Evolution, and Impact”, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte,No. 45, 1982.
Jacoby, Z., “The Provencial Impact on Crusader Sculpture in Jerusalem: More Evidence on the Temple Area Atelier”, in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, No. 48, 1985.

Citation of this web page:

Nazmi Al-Ju'beh "Marble balustrade" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;pa;Mus01;11;en

Prepared by: Nazmi Al-Ju'behNazmi Al-Ju'beh

Nazmi Al-Ju'beh is an archaeologist and historian and Co-Director of RIWAQ, Centre for Architectural Conservation in Ramallah, Palestine. He studied at Birzeit University in Palestine and at Tübingen University in Germany. He taught at Birzeit University and at al-Quds University. He was Director of the Islamic Museum, al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem, and directed various cultural heritage projects in Palestine, including surveys of archaeological and architectural sites. He was a major contributor to Pilgrimage, Sciences and Sufism: Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza (Vienna: MWNF, 2004) and is the author of numerous publications on the history, archaeology and cultural heritage of Palestine.

Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation 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: PA 11


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Islamic Dynasties / Period

Crusaders in the Islamic world

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