Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hisham's Palace

Mosaics Taken from the Bath Floors.

Located 3 miles north of Jericho is the winter hunting retreat of Caliph Hisham Ibn Abd al-Malik, know as Hisham's Palace. King Hisham ruled the Umayyad empire from 723 until his death in 743. The grounds comprised a palace, a paved courtyard, a bath house, a mosque, a fountain courtyard, an enclosure containing plants, animals, mosaic and decoration of the highest standard.The palace itself was a large square building with a monumental entrance and rooms on two floors around a long porticoed courtyard. The elaborate decoration has given it the nick name the "Versailles of the Middle East."

Tourist won't expect to see much of the surviving architecture or decorations, the Palace was destroyed shortly after it was built due to an earthquake. Most visitors go to see the "Tree of Life" mosaic which has the image of a lion bringing down a deer beneath a tree of red oranges. This mosaic would have been in the entertaining room of the bath house. It is thought that the meaning of this scene is the peaceful deer on the left in contrast with the brutal lion on the right are symbols of god versus bad governance. Some of the other mosaics are visible, but most remain buried under the sand/ruble.

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