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date: 21 September 2019



Early Islamic palace in Iraq, located in the desert on the Wadi‛Ubayd almost 200 km south of Baghdad. The ruins of this fortified palace provide important evidence for Islamic architecture and its decoration in the late 8th century ad. The site, known to several 18th-century travellers, was rediscovered by L. Massignon in 1908 and quickly visited and studied by Bell, Reuther and others, who dated it to the Sasanian (ad 226–645) or early Islamic (7th century ad) period. Creswell (1932–40) circumstantially identified it as the palace of ‛Isa ibn Musa (d 783/4), a powerful member of the ruling Abbasid family, but Caskel later argued that it was the palace of ‛Isa ibn ‛Ali and dated it ad 762. The outer enclosure (175×169 m) is built of slabs of limestone rubble set in heavy mortar. Its walls, which once had a parapet, were originally about 19 m high. A round tower marks each corner, with half-round towers spaced regularly between. A gate in the centre of each side is flanked by quarter-round towers, except on the north, where the main entrance is expanded with a projecting block. The north entrance leads to the palace proper (112×82 m), which is adjacent to the outer enclosure on the north. The palace consists of an entrance complex, with a small mosque to its right, a large open court with engaged pilasters, a great vaulted iwan leading to a square hall and flanking apartments. On either side of this central tract are two self-contained residential units arranged around smaller courts. Excavations by the Iraqi Department of Antiquities in ...

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