Name of Object:

Distance marker (milestone)

Location:

Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

Holding Museum:

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

 About Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Sultanahmet

Date of Object:

Hegira 66–86 / AD 685–705

Museum Inventory Number:

2511

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Incised marble.

Dimensions:

Height 40 cm, width 30 cm, depth 9 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Umayyad

Provenance:

Eriha (Jericho), near Jerusalem.

Description:

A distance marker or milestone usually erected to indicate distance between two stations along a pilgrimage or trade route, this one belonging to the period of the fifth Umayyad caliph, 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (r. AH 66–86 / AD 685–705). The milestone is nearly square and has an inscription incised on its surface. The inscription consists of eight lines of kufic script. It cannot be read in its entirety because the upper section of the milestone has broken off and is missing. The legible portion reads: 'The slave of God, the commander of the faithful 'Abd al-Malik – may God's mercy be upon him – erected this stone. From here to Damascus is 109 miles'.

Very few inscriptions have survived from the Umayyad period to the present. In addition, this milestone is significant because it shows the stylistic development of kufic script on stone during the Umayyad period.

How was object obtained by museum: The inventory states that the object was transferred from the ruins of Khan al-Hatrura at Eriha (Jericho) to the Tiled Pavilion (Çinili Köşk) in 1884 as part of the 19th-century initiative to collect artworks from across the country. The object was transferred to the Museum in 1941.

View Short Description

In the early years of Islam, distance markers were erected on important trade and pilgrimage routes in order to show the distances to the travellers. These milestones bear date, patron names and toponyms related to the region, and are thus of documentary importance.

How date and origin were established:

The object was dated to 66–86 / 685–705 based on the mention in the inscription of 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, who was the caliph during this period.

How Object was obtained:

The inventory states that the object was transferred from the ruins of Khan al-Hatrura at Eriha (Jericho) to the Tiled Pavilion (çinili Köşk) in 1884 as part of the 19th-century initiative to collect artworks from across the country. The object was transferred to the Museum in 1941.

How provenance was established:

Inventory records indicate that the object was found amongst the ruins of Khan al-Hatrura at Eriha and taken to the Tiled Pavilion in 1884. Since Khan al-Hatrura is further from Damascus than the inscription would infer (109 miles) it is thought that the milestone was brought to the khan from a place further to the north.

Selected bibliography:

Clermont-Ganneau, C., “Notes d'épigraphie et l'histoire arabes”, Journal Asiatique (e serie IX, avril–mai–juin) 1887, p.472–497.

Kerametli, C., “Türk ve Islam Eserleri Müzesi'nde Erken Islam Devrine Ait Kitabeler”, Şarkiyat Mecmuası VI (1965), Istanbul, 1966, p.20.

ölçer, N. et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, p.32.

Van Berchem, M., Matériaux pour un Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum, deuxieme partie, Syrie du Sud, Tome Premier, Jerusalem 'la ville', Cairo, 1922, p.17–18, catalogue no. 1.

Citation of this web page:

Gönül Tekeli "Distance marker (milestone)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01;1;en

Prepared by: Gönül Tekeli
Translation by: Barry Wood, İnci Türkoğlu
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez


MWNF Working Number: TR 01