National Museum of Damascus
Hegira 109 / AD 727
ع / 15524
Height (above the ground) 3.86 m, width 3.83 m, depth 0.57 m
Syrian Desert; 80 km southwest of Palmyra.
A lintel that belonged to the entrance of the khan found in the region of the Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi complex, which included a market (suq), a bathhouse (hammam), a garden, a dam, a storage area and, most importantly a palace (qasr). The lintel is not extensively ornamented, but it is important inasmuch as scholars have used it to approximate the date the palace was constructed. The inscriptions specify that Caliph Hisham bin Abd al-Malik was patron of the khan; Thabit bin Abi Thabit was supervisor during its construction; and the month of Rajab in the year AH 109 / AD 727 was when the khan was completed.
This inscription represents a continuation and adaptation of a long-used tradition in the region – that of monumental inscriptions – into an Arabic-language context. The text is written in kufic script, an early calligraphic style often used in inscriptions from this period. The technique used to inscribe the marble lintel is, however, unusual as it is done by piercing and drilling holes.
The Arabic text may be translated as follows: “In the name of God, the Merciful the Compassionate. There is no God except the One and Only God he by himself who has no partner. The making of this work was ordered by the servant of Allah Hisham, Commander of the Faithful, may God ensure his reward. [This work was] carried out by the hand of Thabit bin Abi Thabit in Rajab of the year 109 [21st October 727].
This door lintel displays important inscriptions that helped to establish the dating of the completion of the urban architectural structure constructed by the Umayyad Caliph Hisham bin 'Abd al-Malik in the year AH 109 / AD 727.
Caliph Hisham bin Abd al-Malik (r. 105-25 / 724–43)
The object is inscribed with the date the khan was completed.
The lintel was obtained as a result of the 1936 French archaeological expedition directed by Daniel Schlumberger, which was carried out at Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi. This large lintel, which once topped the entrance of the khan, was transferred to the National Museum of Damascus in the 1940s.
The object was found at and was probably carved in situ at Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi.
Schlumberger, D., Qasr el-Heir el-Gharbi, Paris, 1986, plate 49.
Mona al-Moadin "Door Lintel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;sy;Mus01;4;en
Prepared by: Mona Al-Moadin
Translation by: Hilary Kalmbach (from the Arabic)
Translation 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: SY 06
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Umayyads | Official Patronage
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