Murals Rediscovered at Qusayr ‘Amra

The second season of conservation work at Qusayr ‘Amra Jordan wrapped up on November 30. The site, on the UNESCO World Heritage list, dates to the early eighth century and was a lodge and bath complex for an Umayyad caliph.


Qusayr ‘Amra, Jordan


The unique early Islamic murals on the interior are among the most important surviving from that period. This season saw the conservation of the exterior-including the repointing and consolidation of walls damaged by floods in 1994 and the dome and barrel vaults of the caldarium-as well as work to clean and stabilize the murals, many of which have been obscured for decades. 


The conservation of the early Islamic murals


Qusayr ‘Amra, located 85 km to the east of Amman, is a small residence discovered by the Czech traveler Alois Musil in 1898. It dates to the Umayyad period and is thought to have been built during the reign of Caliph Walid II (743-744 AD). Its plan consists of a rectangular audience hall, a bath complex, and hydraulic structures. The main hall has three rooms along its south side.

The baths are located on the east side of the main hall and are connected to a water tank. Qusayr ‘Amra was placed on the World Heritage List in 1985, due to its extensive cycle of mural paintings, which are unique and represent hunting and dancing scenes , as well as craftsmen at work. The calidarium ceiling illustrates constellations and zodiac signs and is the earliest surviving example of representations of heaven on a hemispherical surface. The wall paintings represent the transition between Byzantine culture and the new Islamic era. The painting that represents the “six kings” is perhaps the most famous, depicting the Umayyad ruler with the Byzantine emperor, the Sassanian King, the emperor of China , the Visigothic king of Spain, and the king of Abyssinia.



The mural paintings represent hunting and dancing scenes


The mural paintings represent craftsmen at work.



World Monuments Fund  (WMF) is the leading independent organization dedicated to saving the world’s most treasured places.

Images: WMF 

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