The Fortress at Ma’an
Hegira 937 / AD 1531
Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (r. AH 926–74 / AD 1520–66).
A station on the pilgrimage route in southern Jordan, the fortress at Ma'an lies about 200 km south of Amman along the desert highway. The monument is a square structure measuring 24 m x 24 m with a maximum preserved height that exceeds 9 m.
The walls are provided with plain slit windows, with the entrance gateway located in the middle of the eastern wall articulated by stone decorations immediately above it. At the top of the wall, directly above the gateway, a machicolation (a projecting window) is placed. Two different types of masonry were used to construct the eastern wall which might indicate some repairs and modifications to the gateway and the upper storey. The stone decoration consists of an inscription placed between two decorative devices at the top and the bottom of it. The inscription cites the name of the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent as the founder. The upper device consists of an eight-pointed star formed by two intersecting squares with a concave decorative disc in the centre. On both sides of the star and in the centre of the concave disk additional elements of floral and geometric designs are added.
At the ground level 10 rooms, including two centrally placed iwans, were organised symmetrically on both sides of a rectangular internal courtyard measuring 19 m x 8 m. This arrangement is repeated on the first floor which, in addition, was provided with a walkway that is 1 m long.
The Ma’an fortress is a station on the pilgrimage route, about 200 km south of Amman. The monument is a square structure. Its walls have slit windows, with the entrance gateway located in the middle of the eastern wall. Stone decorations immediately above it surround an inscription that cites the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent as the founder (in AH 937 / AD 1531). At the top of the wall above the gateway, a projecting window is placed. Two different types of masonry were used to construct the eastern wall, which might indicate repairs and modifications to the gateway and the upper storey.
The fortress is dated to 937 / 1531 and attributed to Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (r. 926-74 / AD 1520–66) on the basis of an inscription above the gateway.
Burckhardt, J. L., Travels in Syria and the Holy Land, London, 1882, pp.436–7
Doughty, C. M., Travels in Arabian Deserts, London, 1926, pp.73–4.
Musil, A., The Northern Hegaz, New York, 1926, pp.2–5.
Peterson, A., Early ottoman Forts on the Hajj Route in Jordan, unpublished MA thesis, University of Oxford, 1986, pp.86–93.
Peterson, A., “Early Ottoman Forts on Darb al-Hajj”, Levant, Vol. XXI, 1989, pp.97–117.
Mohammad Najjar "The Fortress at Ma’an" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;jo;Mon01;28;en
Prepared by: Mohammad NajjarMohammad Najjar
Mohammad Najjar is an archaeologist and has been Director of Excavations and Surveys at the Department of Antiquities of Jordan since 1988. He studied archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in Moscow from where he holds his Ph.D. He was affiliated to the Department of Antiquities of Jordan in 1982 as Curator of Jordan Archaeological Museum. He was the Technical Director of Cultural Resources Management (sites development) at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities between 1994 and 1997. He is the author of numerous publications on the archaeology of Jordan.
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: JO 28
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Western Influence in Ottoman Lands | Jordan Pilgrimage | Pilgrimage Routes and Holy Sites Along the Way The Ottomans | Guardians of the Holy Sites
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