The Mosaics of Khirbet el-Mafjar: Hisham's Palace

by Hamdan Taha and Donald Whitcomb

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This is a presentation of beautiful colored mosaics. They originate from buildings in the oasis of Jericho and all date from the first half of the eighth century, during the time of Umayyad caliphate of the early Islamic period. Many visitors have had the privilege of seeing the mosaics revealed, but no one has experienced the impact of all these pavements since they were first excavated in the 1930s and 1940s. A few have been published, but the presentation in Hamilton and Grabar (Khirbat al Mafjar: An Arabian Mansion in the Jordan Valley, 1959) is only very fine aquarelle paintings from the originals.

In 2010 the Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage uncovered, cleaned, and assessed the state of conservation of these mosaics. A series of high-quality digital photographs was prepared by a team from the Department, composed of M. Diab, N. Khatib, Said Ghazal, Rafaat Sharaia, and I. Hamdan, under the direction of H. Taha, from which the present selection is offered for study and appreciation of this triumph in early Islamic art. These images speak for themselves.

  • Oriental Institute Miscellaneous Publication
  • Chicago: The Oriental Institute; Ramallah: Palestinian Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, 2015
  • ISBN 978-1-61491-004-6
  • Pp. 128; 156 color illustrations
  • Hardcover, 11.00 x 10.75”
  • $59.95