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From the Dome of the Chain to Miḥrāb Dāʾūd: The Transformation of an Umayyad Commemorative Site at the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem

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As a monument with a disputed function and iconography, the Dome of the Chain is something of an art historical conundrum. Constructed by the Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik b. Marwan (r. 685–705) in 692 on the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, it reportedly commemorates a chain tethered to the heavens that aided the Prophet King David (Dāʾūd) in the dispensation of justice. By the sixteenth century, however, the Dome of the Chain became associated with other sites of Davidic commemoration such as the Qurʾanic Mihrab of David (Miḥrāb Dāʾūd) referred to in Qurʾan 38:21–26, and was believed to be located in the western citadel of Jerusalem. Through an analysis of the Arabic primary sources, this study situates the history of the Dome of the Chain and the Qurʾanic Miḥrāb Dāʾūd within the context of the Davidic repertoire and commemorative practice in Islam. By examining changing trends of Davidic commemoration in Jerusalem from the seventh to the sixteenth centuries, this study reveals trajectories of Islam’s engagement with its biblical past in relation to the localized commemoration of Davidic justice and kingship within Jerusalem.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This research would not have been possible without the generous support of the Kunsthistorisches Institut Florenz-Max Planck Foundation and was carried out while I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow there in 2015–16. I would also like to thank the Kress Department of Art History at the University of Kansas and the Getty Foundation Connecting Art Histories Program for their financial support. For their guidance and support, I would like to thank Professor Gerhard Wolf and Professor Wendy Pullan. I would also like to thank the reviewers for their invaluable feedback.

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