The Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock

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The Dome of the Rock, the beautiful Muslim shrine in the walled Old City of Jerusalem, was fully restored to its original state in the last half-century. Thus, this structure, sited on the third holiest spot on earth for Muslims, is at once a product of the 7th Century and almost entirely the work of our own times - a paradox in keeping with the complexities and contradictions of history and religion, architecture and ideology that define this site. This book tells the story of the Dome of the Rock, from the first fateful decades of its creation - on the esplanade built in the fourth decade BC for the Second Jewish Temple - to its engulfment in the clashes of the Crusades and the short-lived Christianization of all of Jerusalem, to its modern acquisition of different and potent meanings for Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures. Oleg Grabar's presentation combines what we know of the building with the views of past observers and with the broader historical, cultural, and aesthetic implications of the monument. Primarily it is as a work of art that the Dome of the Rock stands out from these pages, understood for the quality that allows it to transcend the constrictions of period and perhaps even those of faith and culture. Finally, Grabar grapples with the question this monumental work of art so eloquently poses: whether the pious requirements of a specific community can be reconciled with universal aesthetic values.

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  • Hardback | 206 pages
  • 149.9 x 200.7 x 25.4mm | 385.56g
  • The Belknap Press
  • Cambridge, Mass.United States
  • English
  • 40 colour illustrations, 10 halftones, 10 line illustrations
  • 0674023137
  • 9780674023130
  • 582,000

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Review quote

In this slender and synthetic volume, the old master has returned once again to his first love, trying to distill a century or more of scholarship into an entertaining and It is aimed not at his usual scholarly audience, but at the few hardy--and all armchair--travelers to Jerusalem who wish to learn more about its most prominent building...Oleg Grabar shows not only how long and deep is Islam's association with Judaism and Christianity, but also how Islam and its great contributions to world civilization have evolved and changed over time.--Jonathan Bloom"Times Literary Supplement" (12/07/2007)

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Back cover copy

The Dome of the Rock was built in 692 C.E. under the patronage of the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. It enshrines the Sacred Rock, literally the irregular highest tip of Mount Moriah, one of the several ridges around which the city of Jerusalem began to develop as early as five thousand years ago. The structure commemorates the Prophet Muhammad's (ca. 570-632) celebrated Night Journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his Ascension through the heavens to visit God, as told in the Koran and the Traditions. As such, the mosque has reflected and represented Islam during most of its history, but it is also associated with sacred events in the lives of Christ, the Virgin, and Christian saints as well as with a host of Jewish prophets, traditions, and memories. Today the Dome of the Rock is used primarily for women's congregational prayer, private prayer, and religious instruction, and as a place of pilgrimage for people of all faiths. This volume is the most detailed and complete visual documentation published to date of this profound monument. Stunning color photography explores the exterior and luxurious interior, illuminated by delicate light from stained glass windows and decorated with veined marble, mosaics, oriental carpets, and porphyry columns. The introduction, by one of today's most esteemed Islamic scholars, explores the history, art, architecture, and cultural and religious significance of the building. The book also includes transcriptions of the earliest-known Koranic script, inscribed on the building's octagonal arcades, historical travelers' accounts of the Dome, maps and drawings, a bibliography and glossary, and an index.

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About Oleg Grabar

Oleg Grabar is Professor Emeritus of Islamic Art and Architecture, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, the author of more than twenty books, and co-editor of Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World (Harvard).

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