New Research Perspectives on the Mamluk Q??a at Kerak Castle

Building Archaeology and Historical Contextualization


  • Lorenzo Fragai University of Rome



Kerak, building archaeology, Mamluk architecture, Mamluk Jordan


The Mamluk dynasty (1250–1517) succeeded the Ayyubids in Egypt and Syria. From 1260, and for 260 years, construction projects and different types of buildings were sponsored by sultans, emirs, and members of the elite in Cairo, Damascus and Jerusalem as well as in smaller towns and regions on the outskirts of the Mamluk sultanate. Although the existing architecture from the Mamluk period is generally well known in Egypt and Syria, this is not always the case in other countries. In present-day Jordan, which was divided administratively into two large mamlakats, there are many sumptuous examples of mamluk buildings that still have yet to be investigated with the necessary attention. The case study analysed here is the castrum/qal?at Kerak in the late 13th and the first half of 14th century, where an exceptional example of Mamluk palatine architecture is partially preserved. According to written historical sources, this reception hall (or q??a) called Q?’at al-Na???s can be attributed to al-N??ir Mu?ammad ibn Qal?w?n (1310–1341), one of the most distinguished figure of the Mamluk sultanate. This paper will undertake to clarify the construction process of Mamluk royal spaces in Kerak as evidence of the Mamluk dynasty’s power and stability, using the methods of “Light Archaeology” (building stratigraphy, in particular) already used by the Italian archaeological mission (University of Florence) at Petra and Shawbak (Medieval Petra project).

Author Biography

Lorenzo Fragai, University of Rome

Fragai Lorenzo has a PhD in Post-Classic Archaeology and Antiquities from University ʿLa Sapienzaʾ of Rome (DATE) and an MA in Medieval Archaeology from the University of Florence (2014). He is a medieval building specialist, with a focus on medieval Islamic standing structures (residential structures, in particular) from the Middle East. From 2012 he has been a member of the Italian Archaeological mission in Jordan of the University of Florence (“Medieval Petra”— Archaeology of the Crusader–Ayyubid settlement in Transjordan). He has also worked on other international archaeological projects (including excavations, light and landscape archaeology, building archaeology and 3D photogrammetry) as well as on several sites in Italy. He is currently working on two projects concerning the medieval walls and the Romanesque churches of Pistoia (Tuscany).


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How to Cite

Fragai, L. (2020). New Research Perspectives on the Mamluk Q??a at Kerak Castle: Building Archaeology and Historical Contextualization. Journal of Islamic Archaeology, 6(2), 187-208.