The Dome of the Rock: Original Mosaics

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The Dome of the Rock: Original Mosaics

Heba Mostafa


This presentation explores fragments of the original exterior mosaics of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, currently housed at al-Aqsa Museum in the Haram al-Sharif. They represent a lost chapter in the history of the Dome of the Rock, while also raising important questions around the multi-registered symbolism of early Islam and the construction of sanctity under the Umayyads (661-760).


Grabar, Oleg. The Shape of the Holy: Early Islamic Jerusalem. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Grabar, Oleg. “The Umayyad Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.” Ars Orientalis 3 (1959): 33–62.

Khoury, Nuha N. N. “The Dome of the Rock, the Kaʿba, and Ghumdan: Arab Myths and Umayyad Monuments.” Muqarnas 10 (1993): 57–65.

L’Orange, H. P. Studies on the Iconography of Cosmic Kingship in the Ancient World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953.

Necipoglu, Gulru. “The Dome of the Rock as Palimpsest: ’Abd al-Malik’s Grand Narrative and Sultan Süleyman’s Glosses.” Muqarnas 25 (2008): 17–105.

Rabbat, Nasser. “The Dome of the Rock Revisited: Some Remarks on al-Wasiti’s Accounts.” Muqarnas 10 (1993): 67–75.  

Image Credits: 

The Mosque of al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem. Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.  

Rock Moriah at the Dome of the Rock,  Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.  

Mosaic, Southeast panel of drum, Dome of the Rock, Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem. Said Nuseibeh Photography.  

“Dome of the Rock Mosaics.” in Oleg Grabar, The Shape of the Holy: Early Islamic Jerusalem, pp. 92–93.  

“Sasanian Wings, Crown of Chosroes II.” in Ernst Herzfeld, Am Tor von Asien: Felsdenkmale Aus Irans Heldenzeit (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1920), 89.

Left-Kiswa, section of a ceremonial covering for the Ka’ba. The Aga Khan Museum, Toronto. 

Depiction of Mecca, Louis-Nicolas de Lespinasse, 1787, pencil, ink, grey wash and watercolour on paper. Harvard University, Houghton Library pf Ott 137.2*


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Heba Mostafa, “The Dome of the Rock: Original Mosaics,” Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online, published 28 August 2020.

Heba Mostafa is Assistant Professor of Islamic art and architecture at the Department of History of Art at the University of Toronto. She received her doctorate from Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture in 2012. Her research focuses on Islam’s interface with late antiquity, Christianity and Judaism through commemorative architecture, pilgrimage, and ritual practice, with a particular focus on Jerusalem and Cairo.