Name of Object:
Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Date of Object:
Hegira 6th century / AD 12th century
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Hewn and carved marble.
Length 258 cm, width 37 cm, depth 20 cm
Period / Dynasty:
A section from an ash-grey marble frieze, the provenance of which is uncertain but which might have been one of a number of marble pieces crafted in a workshop within the Haram al-Sharif in around AH 555 / AD 1160, during the Crusader period (AH 492–583 / AD 1099–1187), when the workshop became renowned for its marble carving. The frieze is classified as an example of Romanesque art. It was probably used as a lintel for an entrance to one of the buildings at the Haram al-Sharif or the area around it. It continued to be used as a lintel for the southern portals of the Dome of the Rock for an unspecified period, which led to it being disfigured with cement. The frieze was damaged further by obliteration of the facial features of some of the carved figures, and it is possible that the partial removal of the figurative motifs was done in order to use the work within the Dome of the Rock. The remaining animal forms survived intact, thereby enabling easy identification.
View Short Description
This is a grey marble frieze with carved decoration in the Romansque style. It was probably made during the Crusader period in al-Haram al-Sharif. Its decorative themes represent human and animal forms such as hunting dogs, dragons and birds. It also contains vegetal motifs forming a laurel wreath that wraps around the other forms.
How date and origin were established:
Dating of this marble piece was possible by comparison of decorative themes and carving techniques with other pieces, particularly those present at the Holy Sepulchre Church (Kanisat al-Qiyama) and the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary in Jerusalem.
How Object was obtained:
The piece was transferred from the Dome of the Rock to the Islamic Museum in around 1959.
How provenance was established:
It is likely that the piece was produced in the workshop at the Haram al-Sharif, known to have been operational at the period.
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”, Palestine Exploration Quarterly, No. 132, 2000.
Citation of this web page:
Nazmi Al-Ju'beh "Marble frieze" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;10;en
Prepared by: Nazmi Al-Ju'beh