Jordanians finance restoration work in the Dome of the Rock

See the report here.

Reading about the on-going renovations in the Dome of the Rock made us turn to the magisterial work of the recently deceased Oleg Grabar on Early Islamic Jerusalem: “The Shape of the Holy.” Within its pages, you can appreciate, much more than on a site-visit, the brilliance of the mosaics of the Dome of the Rock, photographed from scaffolding at all the right angles.

Dome of the Rock, NNW panel of the upper drum. Photo: Saïd Nuseibeh

Grabar reminds us that “the 1280 square meters (or 12,800 square feet) of mosaics in the Dome of the Rock make it the largest repository of medieval wall mosaics before the Norman church in Monreale” (in Palermo, Sicily).

He points out that: “It is important to recall that, in addition to its continuing forceful presence, the Dome of the Rock was the first monument sponsored by a Muslim ruler that was conceived as a work of art, a monument deliberately transcending its function by the quality of its forms and expression.”

It is fascinating to read about the purpose of the construction of this monument that is such a feature in the advertising of Jerusalem by both Jews, Muslims and Christians. Muqaddasi, a native of the city in the 10th century wrote:

“is it not evident how the caliph Abd al-Malik, noting the greatness of the dome of the Qumamah (refuse, a vulgar pun on qiyamah or resurrection, the Arabic term for the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem) and its magnificence, was moved, lest it should dazzle the minds of the Muslims, and hence erected above the Rock the Dome which is seen there?”

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