Archaeological Sites > Samarra


Excavation of Samarra (Iraq)

Excavation of Samarra (Iraq): View of the Great Mosque of al-Mutawakkil, 1911-1913. Photographic print. Photo file. Ernst Herzfeld papers, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

These squeezes are from regions to the north and south of Samarra: Balkuwara and Al-Dūr. The name al-Manqūr describes a vast field of ruins located on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, extending from the southern end of the former built-up areas of Samarra, almost to the octagonal ruin of al-Qadissiya. Herzfeld identified it as a place with the classical name Balkuwara or Barkuwara, a palace from the time of al-Mutawakkil, possibly built on the occasion of the investiture of the heir apparent, the child al-Mu'tazz, after 850 CE. It was in the Eastern Īwan of the Balkuwara Palace that the well-known beam with the inscription "al-amīr al-Mu'tazz bi-llah b. amīr al-Mu'minīn," carved into one of the sides, was recovered.

The Mausoleum Imam al-Dūr (Muslim ibn Kureish) (1085 CE), located north of Samarra, is the oldest surviving example of elaborate muqarnas associated with domes, a masonry style of building that was developed during the late Abbasid period by semi-autonomous Seljuk princes.