Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Limestone Keystone from a Vaulted Ceiling

ca. 1220–30
Overall: 20 x 33 in. (50.8 x 83.8 cm) weight: 716lb. (324.8kg)
Credit Line:
Gift of Clarence H. Mackay, Archer M. Huntington, Stephen H. P. Pell and Bashford Dean, 1928
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
During the 1100s and 1200s, fortified settlements were built in the Holy Land by knights from western Europe trying to establish a Christian kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital. Founded by French Crusaders in the 1100s, Castle Montfort was purchased in the 1220s by the Teutonic Knights, German Crusaders who rebuilt it and renamed it Starkenberg. The stonemason who carved this keystone, probably during the Teutonic Knights’ restoration of the site, left his mark, a cross, inscribed on its left end. In 1272 after a heavy siege, the castle fell to Baybars, the Mamluk sultan of Egypt. The surviving knights retired to Acre (now Akko, Israel), the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land. In 1926 the Museum took part in the excavation of the ruined castle.
Excavated from Chamber D of Montfort/Starkenburg Castle (near modern Akko, Israel).
Dean, Bashford. "A Crusaders' Fortress in Palestine: a Report of Explorations Made by the Museum, 1926." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, o.s., 22, no. 9, pt. 2 (September 1927). p. 29, fig. 37.

Folda, Jaroslav. Crusader Art in the Holy Land: From the Third Crusade to the Fall of Acre, 1187-1291. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. pp. 184-88, fig. 92.

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