Monumental pillar hall discovered in Madinat al-Zahra

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During the course of the ongoing excavations of the Madrid Department at the World Heritage Site Madinat al-Zahra near Cordoba (Spain), a 120 m long pillar portico was discovered in July 2019.

Monumental pillar hall discovered in Madinat al-Zahra
Portico and gate on the east side of the Plaza de Armas (ca. 950 AD) [Credit: DAI]



The hall borders the east side of an 18,000 m² square in the forecourt of the Caliph’s Palace of Madinat al-Zahra. In the middle of the portico was a monumental gate, which formed the entrance to a building complex behind it. An unusual reception building had already been discovered here last year, the layout of which is reminiscent of Persian throne halls.

Monumental pillar hall discovered in Madinat al-Zahra
Remains of an iron-covered gate wing [Credit: DAI]



During the current excavations a detailed reconstruction of the history of the destruction of the gate was possible. A fire seems to have broken out in the roof timbers of the portico, probably during the looting of the town by Berber troops on 4 November 1010 AD.

Monumental pillar hall discovered in Madinat al-Zahra
Fragment of painted wall plaster from the upper part of the gate [Credit: DAI]



When the roof timbers collapsed, the gate wings also caught fire and fell on the rubble. Here a gate wing completely covered with iron was almost entirely preserved. As a result, the archway also collapsed. Remains of the facade of the upper floor were found in the rubble, including fragments of marble columns and painted wall plaster.

Monumental pillar hall discovered in Madinat al-Zahra
View of Madinat al-Zahra [Credit: DAI]

The excavations at Madinat al-Zahra are part of an agreement between the Junta de Andalucia and the Madrid Department, in collaboration with the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and under the direction of Felix Arnold, Alberto Montejo and Alberto Canto. The aim of the 5-year project is to investigate the grounds in the forecourt of the Caliph’s Palace and its adjacent buildings.

Source: Deutsches Archaologisches Institut [trsl. TANN, July 31, 2019]

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