A home renovation in the Old City of Jerusalem yielded an unusual Arabic inscription offering insight into the history of Muslim rule in the holy city.
The fragment of the 1,100-year-old plaque was probably made by an army veteran expressing his thanks for a land grant from the Caliph al-Muqtadir, whom the inscription names “Emir of the Faithful.”
In this era, Jerusalem was ruled from Baghdad by the Abbasid Empire. The plaque shows how rulers rewarded their troops and ensured their loyalty.
The Abbasids conquered Jerusalem after numerous wars with the Fatimid Empire in Egypt. The Abbasid caliphs esteemed Jerusalem as an Islamic holy site.
Said excavation director Annette Nagar:
“The caliph probably granted estates as part of his effort to strengthen his hold over the territories within his control, including Jerusalem, just as other rulers did in different periods.”
The white marble plaque measures four inches by four inches (10 x 10 centimeters) and was found approximately 5 feet (1.5 meters) beneath the floor of a home in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
The house’s owner planned a renovation and â€” in accordance with the law â€” brought archaeologists to carry out a salvage dig meant to prevent harm to valuable antiquities. The plaque was removed from the site and is now in the care of Israel’s Antiquities Authority.
The writing was deciphered by Professor Moshe Sharon of the Hebrew University, who traced it to 910, during the early part of al-Muqtadir’s 24-year rule.
The finding will hopefully help scholars better understand 10th-century Jerusalem, populated by Muslims, Christians and Jews, as well as the methods used by Muslim rulers to solidify their control.
This being said, you will forgive my observing Jewish archeologists’ objective fascination with the history of the city, and for no other drive besides science â€“ which is oh, so Israeli.
Perhaps this find will drown out the Jordanian national whine to possess the Dead Sea Scrolls. And we shall not forget to mention ALL of the archaeological material dating to the First Temple Period (960-586 BC) which was destroyed when Palestinians dumped it into the Kidron Valley like waste, and Jerusalem’s municipal garbage dump.
Go science, go truth, go Israel!