A geographical map of the Holy Land and its vicinity, with a detailed representation of sixth-century CE Jerusalem in the center. The map was discovered in 1884 in the mosaic floor of a Byzantine church in the town of Madaba in Transjordan.
The most sacred city of the Islamic world, this is where the prophet Muhammad was born. In the center of Mecca is the great mosque, measuring 150 x 180 meters, and almost in its exact center is the Ka`ba. Every Muslim worshipper, anywhere in the world, faces toward Mecca while praying (kibla), and is obliged to perform at least one pilgrimage (hadj) to the city during his lifetime.
An ornamental motif, usually circular but sometimes oval, octagonal, etc., used as a frame for a more intricate decorative motif. Most commonly found in mosaics. In many cases the frame is designed as vine trellises, forming medallions which enclose representations of humans, animals and various objects.
The ascent of Muhammad to heaven. A late Islamic tradition connects Muhammad’s nocturnal journey (Al-Iasra’) from Mecca to Jerusalem to his ascent to heaven. Another tradition assigns a footprint preserved on the rock in the Dome of the Rock to Muhammad (Qadam en-Nabi), imprinted just before his ascent to heaven.
A niche in the middle of the mosque wall, facing the city of Mecca, indicating the direction of prayer.
A stone block set along a road, specifying the distance (in Roman miles) from a fixed starting point on the road. It is a typical find of the Roman period, generally inscribed with the name of the ruler during whose reign the road was built or repaired.
The place (usually a tower) from which the faithful are called to prayer.
A raised structure or pulpit from which announcements to the Muslim community were made, and from which sermons were preached.
A major composition of Jewish traditional literature, containing a collection of religious laws (halakhot), concerning all aspects of Jewish life. The Mishna is divided into six Orders, each of which is divided into tractates. Many of the laws in the Mishna, compiled by Rabbi Juda ha-Nasi in the late second century CE, originated in the Second Temple period (first century BCE – first century CE), when they had been an oral tradition, formulated by the scholars of the time — the Tana’im.
In Greek: monos – single, lithos – stone. A structure or column made from a single block of stone.
Hard paving of a floor or wall, made of small stones in different colors; the stones may be arranged in a variety of decorative patterns and images, or as inscriptions.
The mosque is the Islamic place of worship. During the first years of the Islamic period there was no building assigned for prayer and the first mosques were built as open courtyards. The architecture of the mosques as it is known today evolved during the Umayyad period. Removal of shoes and the washing of feet are required before entering a mosque. The mosques floors are covered by carpets or mats.
An architectural term, describing the stepped niches characteristic of Islamic architecture from the time of the Seljuks.
A herald calling the Muslims to prayer. He callsthem to prayer five times a day from the top of the minaret.