From Arabia to Bil?d al-Sh?m:

Mu??wiya’s Development of an Infrastructure and Monumental Architecture of Early Umayyad Statehood

Authors

  • Beatrice St. Laurent Bridgewater State University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jia.40700

Keywords:

Muʿāwiya, Amir al-muʾminīn, Umayyad, Bilād al-Shām, al-Ṣinnabra

Abstract

This article first examines the early history of Mu??wiya and his monumental architectural achievements in Arabia. He was from a wealthy land-owning elite Arabian family of traders from the Meccan Qurayshi tribe. As Companion and scribe of the Prophet he was well-positioned to achieve the goals of tribal unification, agricultural development, initiating a period of architectural construction and state-building. Second the article’s major focus is his monumental architectural construction in Greater Syria evidenced in the archaeological and re-evaluated textual evidence, which support his creation of statehood infrastructure for the Umayyads in Bil?d al-Sh?m. As governor of Syria and later as the first Sufy?nid Am?r al-mu?min?n or Commander of the Faithful in the D?r al-Islam, he controlled the development of an architecture and bureaucratic infrastructure of state throughout the region. After arrival with the armies of conquest in 634, he became provincial governor of Syria in 638/639 and continued the process of tribal unification and state-building at the behest of the Rashidun caliphs ?Umar and ?Uthman.  As Am?r al-mu?min?n he continued tribal consolidation, settling disputes by moving populations within the D?r al-Islam. He also engaged in monumental architectural development throughout the realm including mosques, palaces and fortresses, invented the mi?r?b–the stone or space (later the niche) indicating the direction of prayer toward Mecca, and established what was later known as the rib?? system along the Mediterranean coast. Though there are meager documentary survivals of texts and inscriptions, there is now sufficient archaeological and recent secondary scholarly evidence particularly in a revision textual usage to claim that Mu??wiya created the Umayyad state and monuments reflecting statehood during his reign as Commander of the Faithful in Syria with multiple capitals in Damascus, al-J?biya, al-?innabra and Jerusalem.

Author Biography

Beatrice St. Laurent, Bridgewater State University

Beatrice St. Laurent received her PhD in Islamic Art at Harvard University as a student of Oleg Grabar. She is Professor of Art History (Islamic Art and Architecture) in the Department of Art and Art History, College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA, USA. Between February and July 2016 she was Seymour Gitin Distinguished Professor at the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. She has been involved in research on the restorations of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque for 28 years with many book chapters and articles on the subject. She is currently completing a book co-authored with her now deceased colleague Isam Awwad (former Chief Architect and Conservator of the Ḥarām al-Sharīf) on seventh century Jerusalem entitled Capitalizing Jerusalem: Muʿawiyā’s Urban Vision 638–680, as well as another book on the twentieth and twenty-first century restorations of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.

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Published

2020-03-10

How to Cite

St. Laurent, B. (2020). From Arabia to Bil?d al-Sh?m: : Mu??wiya’s Development of an Infrastructure and Monumental Architecture of Early Umayyad Statehood. Journal of Islamic Archaeology, 6(2), 153-186. https://doi.org/10.1558/jia.40700

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