Department of Antiquities, Qasr al-Mshatta Archaeological Site, Jordan
Not on view
Qasr al-Mshatta The unfinished palace at Mshatta near Amman, Jordan is the largest of the Umayyad palaces. Resembling a fortress with its twenty-five semicircular towers and monumental entrance gate, it had a grand audience hall on the same axis as the entrance. The gatehouse complex near the entrance included a mosque. The exterior walls flanking the entrance gate were covered with elaborately carved decoration in the Byzantine tradition. The building may have been ordered by the Umayyad caliph al-Walid II (r. 743–44) to welcome those returning from the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca and then left unfinished at his death. This luxuriantly foliate half of a six-lobed rosette once decorated the exterior of the walls encircling the palace. Rosettes were placed centrally in each of the monumental triangles that defined the surface decoration on the facade. The rosettes were carved from two stone blocks that were then joined horizontally.