Name of Monument:

Al-Qastal Minaret

Location:

24 km al sureste de Ammán, cerca de la carretera al aeropuerto internacional Queen Alia, Qastal, Jordan

Date of Monument:

Hegira 101–5 / AD 720–4

Period / Dynasty

Umayyad

Patron(s):

Caliph Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik (Yazid II, r. AH 101–5 / AD 720–4).

Description:

Al-Qastal, well known for its Umayyad castle (qasr) and adjacent mosque is situated 24 km to the southeast of Amman next to the highway which leads to Queen Alia International Airport.
The minaret, built of smooth, dressed limestone blocks and laid in header-and-stretcher fashion, forms a salient on the north and west walls of the mosque's courtyard. It has a cylindrical shaft 5 m in diameter and rests on a rectangular base of three courses 1.35 m high. The shaft consists of six courses 3.27 m high. A projecting moulded cornice marks the beginning of the second storey and serves as a base for the channelled Corinthian pilasters. Though only six pilasters currently exist, it seems that originally 10 such pilasters stood on the cornice possibly flanking recessed blind niches pierced by narrow openings or slits.
The minaret was entered from the northwestern corner of the mosque's courtyard through a narrow door 0.60 m wide, and the interior space was taken up by a spiral staircase which until the turn of the century stood to a level slightly below the top of the pilasters. The door-sill is 2.10 m above the original floor level and there is no evidence of a stairway leading up to it; perhaps a wooden ladder was used to get up to the doorway.
The minaret at al-Qastal has acquired a particular significance not only because of its cylindrical shape, but also because it is the only extant minaret from the Umayyad period. Contemporary poetry associates al-Qastal and al-Muwaqqar with Caliph Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik (Yazid II, r. AH 101–5 / AD 720–4) and his son al-Walid II (r. AH 125–6 / AD 743–4).

View Short Description

Al-Qastal, known for its Umayyad qasr (castle) and mosque associated with Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik (r. AH 101–5 / AD 720–4) and his son al-Walid (r. AH 125–6 / AD 743–4), is situated 24 km to the southeast of Amman. The minaret has a cylindrical shaft 5 m in diameter and 3.27 m high, resting on a rectangular base. A projecting moulded cornice marks the beginning of the second storey. The minaret was entered from the northwestern corner of the mosque’s courtyard through a narrow door, and the interior was taken up by a spiral staircase. The minaret at al-Qastal is the only extant minaret from the Umayyad period.

How Monument was dated:

The monument was dated by way of archaeological excavations, stylistic analysis, historical sources and contemporary Arabic poetry. Poetry of the period associates both al-Muwaqqar and al-Qastal with Yazid ibn Abd al-Malik and his son al-Walid II. In a panegyric verse addressed to Yazid, the poet Kuthayyir Azza mentions al-Muwaqqar and al-Qastal in a context which indicates that both belonged to the same patron: 'May God bless the quarter (family) whose abode is in Muwaqqar (and extends) to Qastal al-Belqa of the elevated chambers'. In another poem composed by the same poet in praise of Yazid, mention is made of the two Qastals (bi-l Qastalayn): 'May God reward a quarter in Muwaqqar with pleasant life, and may the thunder clouds let fall copious rains with the abounding clouds and pouring showers, he was bestowed in the two Qastals with abundant boon'. The two Qastals here clearly refer to al-Qastal and al-Muwaqqar just as 'al-'Iraqayn' (the two 'Iraqs) refer to Kufa and Basra, or 'al-Qaryatayn' for Mecca and Medina.

Selected bibliography:

Addison, E., “The Mosque at Qastal: Report from al-Qastal Conservation and Development Project, 1999–2000”, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, XLIV, 2000, pp.477–91.
Bisheh, G., “A Short Note on the Minaret at Qastal”, Liber Annuus, 10, 2000, pp.499–501.
Carlier, P., “Recherche Archéologique au château de al-Qastal”, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, XXVIII, 1984, 343–82.

Citation of this web page:

Ghazi Bisheh "Al-Qastal Minaret" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;jo;Mon01;30;en

Prepared by: Ghazi BishehGhazi Bisheh

Ghazi Bisheh is an archaeologist and former Director General of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. He studied archaeology at the University of Jordan, and history of Islamic art and architecture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, from where he holds his Ph.D. He was affiliated to the Department of Antiquities of Jordan for most of the period between 1980 and 1999, and was its Director General twice (1988–91 and 1995–9). He was also an associate professor of archaeology at Yarmouk University during the early 1990s. He is the author of numerous publications, including The Umayyads: The Rise of Islamic Art (Brussels: Museum With No Frontiers, 2000), of which he is a co-author. He has carried out excavation work both inside and outside Jordan in sites such as Qasr al-Hallabat, Madaba, Carthage and Bahrain. He is a member of the German Archaeological Institute and is the Deputy Director of the International Council of Museums for the Arab countries.

Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: JO 30

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