Jordan Archaeological Museum
Hegira 101–5 / AD 720–24
Height 60 cm, width 41 cm
Al-Muwaqqar, the water reservoir, Jordan.
A stone column capital, one of 18 capitals that belong to the water reservoir at the Umayyad palace at al-Muwaqqar, with an inscription that reveals that the reservoir was built by order of the Caliph Yazid II (r. AH 101–5 / AD 720–24). It was found in May 1943 in a yard belonging to a private house located within a few hundred meters of the ruins of the palace. It was broken into two pieces which fit together neatly.
Three sides of the capital are decorated with a row of acanthus leaves separated by paired volutes. One side contains a ten-line Arabic inscription that stands out in relief from a plain background. This inscription reads: 'In the name of the most merciful God. Has ordered the building of this pool the servant of God, Yazid Commander of the Faithful, may God favour him and prolong his life and happiness and bestow upon him blessings and bounties in this world and the next. It has been built by the care of ‘Abdallah the son of Sulaym.' Between the eighth and ninth line of the inscription three words are incised in smaller characters, they read: 'Khamsat Ashara dhira' (15 cubits). The drums of the column, upon which this capital once sat, would have been immersed in the pool; each drum with other incised words indicating the number of cubits; thus forming a water gauge. The highest measurement is on the capital itself, being 15 cubits.
A second inscription in relief runs around the abacus of the three decorated sides, it is interrupted in the middle of each by a circular boss with an inscribed trefoil which reads: 'Allahma salli Ala Abdka Rasul Allah' ('O God bless your servant and messenger Muhammad').
Limestone capital from al-Muwaqqar with a ten-line Arabic inscription in relief mentioning the building of a pool ordered by Yazid II (r. AH 101–5 / AD 720–4). The capital and its drum formed a water gauge and incised words indicate measurements. The last was 15 cubits, recorded within the inscription.
Caliph Yazid II (r. AH 101–5 / AD 720–24)
The capital is datable by the inscription which bears the name of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid II (r. 101–5 / 720–24).
The Museum obtained the capital directly from the owner of the house in which it was found.
Literary sources indicate that the palatial residence at al-Muwaqqar belonged to the Umayyad Caliph Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik (Yazid II) who reigned from 103–4 / 722–3. Furthermore the capital was found only a few hundred meters from the palace at al-Muwaqqar.
العابدي. محمود، الآثار الإسلامية في فلسطين والأردن، عمان، 1973.
Hamilton, R. W., 'An Eighth-Century Water Gauge at al-Muwaqqar', Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine X11, 1946, pp.63–9.
Zabern, P., Der Königs Weg: 9000 Jahre Kunst und Kultur in Jordanien und Palästina, exhibition catalogue, Mainz, 1987, p.351.
Aida Naghawy "Column capital" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;jo;Mus01;3;en
Prepared by: Aida NaghawyAida Naghawy
Aida Naghawy is an archaeologist and the Director of Jordan Archaeological Museum. She studied archaeology at the University of Jordan where she gained her MA. She was affiliated to the Jordanian Department of Antiquities from 1974 as a curator of Jordan Archaeological Museum. In 1981 she became inspector of Jerash antiquities and co-ordinator of the Jerash International Rehabilitation project. She was also head of the archaeological awareness section at the Department of Antiquities. Aida is the author of numerous publications on Islamic coins. She has carried out excavation work in Jerash and is the founder of Jerash Archaeological Museum and the Islamic Museum of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.
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 03
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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