Documentation of scattered architectural fragments and exposed structures at Qastal

Sela started working in Qastal in November 2018 under the scientific supervision of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan.

The project, which is implemented as part of Sela on-the-job training program within EHP, involves the cleaning and documentation of the archaeological site.

Participants will contribute to the protection and preservation of the local environmental and cultural heritage.

The project is implemented by Sela for vocational training and Protection of Cultural Heritage as a training program open to members of the host community, to national and international students and to professionals who want to contribute at building a more sustainable future for the host community and its heritage.

Participants will work in close cooperation with the local stakeholders and authorities and with the host communities in a widely variegated and international environment that will facilitate cultural exchanges.

About the site

The Umayyad site is located “25 kilometres south of the Capital. It retains nearly all the structures that comprised a typical Umayyad settlement: a main residential palace, a mosque, a cemetery, a bathhouse, domestic dwellings, a substantial agricultural dam, a main reservoir and dozens of smaller cisterns. Qastal had always been viewed as a small Roman fort, largely because of its fort-like shape and the assumption that its Arabic name Qastal derived from the Latin word “castellum”, or small castle. Surface examinations by the German scholar Heinz Gaube and excavations by a French team headed by Dr Patricia Carlier and Frederic Morin have shown Qastal to be a virtually complete Umayyad complex, with the standing remains of what may be the earliest known Umayyad residential palace and minareted mosque. The palace, nearly 68 metres square, had its main entrance hall, decorated with fine carved stonework, in a tower in the east wall. The palace had four circular corner towers and 12 semi-circular interval towers. The excavated south-east corner tower retains some of the original internal rooms, which were modified when the building was re-used in the Mamluk period (13th-15th Centuries AD). The entrance hall led into a vestibule which opened on to the central courtyard with a large underground cistern and surrounded by six “suites”; another six suites comprised the upper storey, reached by twin staircases within the thick flanking walls of the entrance hall. Above the entrance, on the second floor, was the lavishly decorated, triple-apsed audience Hall, similar to the one on the Amman Citadel. The palace was richly decorated with carved stones, stucco and glass and stone mosaics; its floors, even its latrines, were virtually all paved with mosaics, whose geometric, floral and animal motifs recall the fine mosaics at Qasr el-Hallabat. Immediately north of the palace (across the small paved road) is the rectangular mosque, oriented off-axis from Mecca. Its original rectangular mihrab (prayer niche) was later replaced by a more typical semi-circular mihrab, and its circular minaret is one of the earliest surviving minarets from the first days of the realm of Islam. South-west of the palace is the only known early Islamic cemetery in Jordan with some of its earliest tombs oriented towards Jerusalem, and with at least 17 inscribed tombstones dated to the Umayyad and the Abbasid periods. The tombstones are on display at the Madaba archaeological museum, along with fragments of Qastal’s mosaics.” (To learn more)

Click here to get involved