31 July 2015

Hobnobbing in the Holy Land: Hisham's Palace

Jericho is perhaps the oldest human settlement that I have been to. As my previous post indicates, settlement in this area has been around since 10000 BC. But for this post, I am talking about something that is way younger than that date. I am talking about Hisham's Palace, which is said to have been built during the Umayyad dynasty. Yes, this is an Islamic archaeological site. Somehow, I haven't been to those sites lately. Scholars don't know when exactly this place was built, but the Umayyad dynasty was around between 660 and 750 AD, so it must be around that time.

There are plenty of visitors here, but still the place is expansive enough that it doesn't feel crowded. There is a small museum showing the various artifacts that are found in the area, and there is also a video that you can watch if you're interested. However, the main draw here is still the massive archaeological site.

There is an expansive courtyard that is immediately visible upon entering the gate. There are ruins of pillars, and this is also where the six-point semi-circular shape enclosed in a circle is found. This circular window's motif can be found in the city symbol of Jericho. If you see the cover of the new Lonely Planet Israel and Palestine guide, then you will see this motif as well.

The palace is the largest building in the whole site, which is basically a very square building that features massive pillars. The photos I have above show the huge pillars that remain in the site. The other partitions and walls have been long demolished.

Behind the palace are the baths. And in this complex are perhaps one of the most preserved intricate mosaics I have seen in Palestine. The pictures above show you what I saw. Unfortunately, one can only view the mosaics from a weird angle, and so the image I saw was inverted.

The last thing I saw in this site was the agricultural area, which was a little bit overgrown with grass. I also perhaps had some fear of unknown snakes given that I was in the desert, and so I didn't linger in this area for long.

As usual, this area of the world is rich in archaeological sites, and this is one example of it. By all means, check this out, when you are in Palestine. It's a fascinating place.

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