Name of Object:

Column capital



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/45

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Hewn marble.


Height 32 cm, horizontal cross-section 20 cm x 20 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Probably Jerusalem.


After Jerusalem was restored to the Muslims under the leadership of Salah al-Din Ayyubi (Saladin) in AH 583 / AD 1187, he quickly tried to restore the Islamic character of Jerusalem generally, and that of the Haram al-Sharif specifically. The Muslims undertook the destruction and removal of Crusader additions to buildings, icons and decorations within the holy areas, until what remained was likely to be found only in the secular buildings. This operation provided a large quantity of building materials, especially invaluable marble and decorative stone fragments, most of which were re-used in the Ayyubid architectural projects in Jerusalem and outside. Some of these edifices are still standing and may still be seen today.
This column capital is a good example of the process of the effacement of Christian representational iconography. Despite the preservation of most of the constituents of the capital, which clearly manifest its origins and epoch, the animated features on it have largely been obliterated. The process of effacement may have taken place hurriedly, or it may have been a symbolic act, since clear traces of the birds' features remain in addition to vegetal decoration.

View Short Description

With the fall of Jerusalem under Salah al-Din Ayyubi (Saladin), many Crusader additions were removed from al-Haram al-Sharif. This left behind many building materials including this carved marble capital. It was adorned with many vegetal, animal and human motifs and demonstrates the iconoclastic process in sacred Islamic sites.

How date and origin were established:

The capital was dated by comparison of its carving and decorative themes with other Crusader pieces in Palestine.

How Object was obtained:

This column capital was probably transferred from the Haram al-Sharif to the Islamic Museum during restorations, a process that is still underway. The Museum owns other Crusader column capitals that were exposed to iconoclastic acts.

How provenance was established:

Similar capitals remain in different areas of the Haram al-Sharif and Jerusalem. Some of these capitals remain in situ, while others were re-used in other buildings. Only some capitals were defaced, while others were largely untouched. It is probable that this capital was produced in Jerusalem.

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 Evidences on the Temple Area Atelier”, in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, No. 48, 1985.

Citation of this web page:

Nazmi Al-Ju'beh "Column capital" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;pa;Mus01;15;en

Prepared by: Nazmi Al-Ju'beh
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: PA 15