Citadel of Amman (general view)
Around hegira 110 / AD 728
Hisham ibn Abd al–Malik (AH 105–25 / AD 724–43).
Muslim troops led by Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan conquered Amman in AH 13 / AD 634. Under Umayyad rule, Amman was the capital city of al-Balqa district. A new residential and administrative complex (Dar al-Imara) was built on the Citadel of Amman. The site known in Arabic as al-Qal'a is a well-defined natural elevation at the heart of ancient and modern Amman. The Umayyad town at the citadel comprised a palace complex: a bath complex; a deep, round water reservoir; a central plaza, a congregational mosque and domestic quarters, all of which were enclosed within fortified walls.
The proximity of the city to the centre of power in Damascus, together with the fact that the area was inhabited by tribes traditionally allied to the Umayyad dynasty, had created a favourable atmosphere for the economic development of al-Balqa in general, and Amman in particular. The city flourished during the Umayyad period benefiting from its strategic location on the trade and pilgrimage route between Damascus and Hijaz. Amman lost some of its political significance with the shift of the political centre of the Islamic state to Iraq and declined slightly during the Abbasid period (AH 132–358 / AD 750–969), and yet even more rapidly in the Fatimid period (AH 358–566 / AD 969–1171). By the AH 8th / AD 14th century, Amman was all but lost from historical memory. The Medieval Arab historian Abu al-Fida wrote of Amman in AH 720 / AD 1321: 'A very ancient town and was ruined before the days of Islam'.
In AH 1296 / AD 1879 the Ottoman administration helped to settle emigrants from the Caucasus into a few areas in Jordan including Amman. In 1921 Amman became the capital city of the newly established Emirate of Transjordan founded by the Amir (later king) Abdullah I.
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The Citadel of Amman is a natural elevation within Amman. Muslim troops led by Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan conquered Amman in AH 13 / AD 634, and under Umayyad rule it was the capital of al-Balqa district. The Umayyad town at the citadel comprised a palace complex, a bath, a reservoir, a plaza, a congregational mosque and domestic quarters within fortified walls. The city flourished during the Umayyad period due to its proximity to Damascus but started to decline in the Abbasid period and was abandoned by the 8th / 14th century until 1296 / 1879 when the Ottomans settled Caucasian emigrants in Amman.
The site was dated on the basis of historical sources and archaeological excavations.
Almagro, A., “El Palacio Omeya de Amman”, La Arquitectura, Madrid, 1983.
Creswell, K. A. C., and Allan, J. W., A Short Account of Early Muslim Architecture, Cairo, 1989, pp.169–73.
Khouri, R. G., Amman: A Brief Guide to the Antiquities, Amman, 1988, pp.16–18.
Koutsoukou, A., et al, The Great Temple of Amman: The Excavations, Amman, 1997, pp.12–16.
Northedge, A. E., Studies on Roman and Islamic Amman, Vol. I., Oxford, 1992, pp.74–104.
Mohammad Najjar "Citadel of Amman (general view)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2023. 2023. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;jo;Mon01;8;en
Prepared by: Mohammad NajjarMohammad Najjar
Mohammad Najjar is an archaeologist and has been Director of Excavations and Surveys at the Department of Antiquities of Jordan since 1988. He studied archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in Moscow from where he holds his Ph.D. He was affiliated to the Department of Antiquities of Jordan in 1982 as Curator of Jordan Archaeological Museum. He was the Technical Director of Cultural Resources Management (sites development) at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities between 1994 and 1997. He is the author of numerous publications on the archaeology of Jordan.
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 08
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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