Friday 18 October 2013

Seminar: David Kennedy. “Al-Muwaqqar. Salvaging an Umayyad Desert Castle and its Context”

On our recent fieldwork in Jordan in April we paid particular attention to the Umayyad site of al-Muwaqqar on the fringe of the steppe east of Amman (see our blog entry: Flight 20130414, Field Trip 20130416 - al-Muwaqqar). Our interest has only increased with subsequent detailed examination of previous travellers’ and archaeologists’ reports, photographs and drawings of the site – the first date to the late 19th century include John Gray Hill and his wife Caroline, Rudolf-Ernst Brünnow and Alois Musil. Later accounts include the better-known publications on the distinctive capitals by R. W. Hamilton, and K. A. C. Creswell, author of Early Islamic Architecture (1969) as well as the lesser-known excavation reports published in the Jordan Department of Antiquities Journal, ADAJ. In addition to this there are historical aerial photographs of 1939 and 1948, and our own photographs of the site dating 1998-2013. Piecing together these accounts with the surviving visible record has led to an impressive picture of a complex Umayyad site comprising of at least 2 reservoirs, c. 90 cisterns, a large Qasr or palatial residence, a second structure of unknown function, and what may be an associated bath-house with mosaics.

A brief summation of our investigations were presented today at St. John’s College, Oxford at one of the weekly ‘Late Antique and Byzantine Archaeology and Art’ Seminars. The lecture was well attended. Positive and informative feedback from peers was most welcome and has given us much food for thought. The resulting publication on this topic is in the works: watch this space.
David Kennedy presents in the New Seminar room at St. John's College, Oxford.

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