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A qibla mušarriqa for the First al-Aqṣà Mosque? A New Stratigraphic, Planimetric, and Chronological Reading of Hamilton’s Excavation, and Some Considerations on the Introduction of the Concave miḥrāb

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This paper reconstructs an alternative planimetric and structural history of al-Aqṣà mosque in the pre-crusader period and reassesses the chronology. In particular, it proposes reading the plan of the first Aqṣà, which emerged from Hamilton’s excavations, as oriented towards the east rather than the south, thus having an astronomical orientation like other 7th-century and early 8th-century mosques. The identification of the eastern wall rather than the southern as the qiblī wall would mean the aisles would not be perpendicular but rather parallel to it, thus indicating an arrangement usually found in Umayyad mosques. It follows that the precocious appearance of the transept and the aisles perpendicular to the qiblī wall in the second Aqṣà would result from the re-orientation to the south of the previous structure. This change is interpreted as connected to the introduction of the concave miḥrāb and its axial relationship with the Dome of the Rock.

Affiliations: 1: Sapienza Università di RomaUniversità degli studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”


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