The Baths of al-Walid at Qusayr ‘Amra

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The Baths of al-Walid at Qusayr ‘Amra

Alexander Brey


Qusayr ʿAmra (sometimes called Qasr ʿAmra) is an eighth-century bathhouse located in eastern Jordan. Decorated for the Umayyad crown prince al-Walid ibn Yazid before he ascended to the caliphate in 743, the baths are filled with an astonishing variety of figural imagery. Synthesizing work by epigraphers, art historians, and archaeologists, this video briefly presents the inscriptions, wall paintings, and immediate archaeological context of the baths.


Ali, Nadia. “Quṣayr ʿAmra, la peinture du personnage trônant sur l’eau: aspects pratiques de la fabrication d’une image.” Annales Islamologiques 40 (2006): 107–37.

Bianchin, Sara, Umberto Casellato, Monica Favaro, and Pietro Alessandro Vigato. “Painting Technique and State of Conservation of Wall Paintings at Qusayr Amra, Amman – Jordan.” Journal of Cultural Heritage 8, no. 3 (July 2007): 289–93.

Fowden, Garth. Qusayr ʿAmra: Art and the Umayyad Elite in Late Antique Syria. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2004.

Guidetti, Mattia. “The Long Tradition of the Cycle of Paintings of Qusayr ‘Amra.” Eurasiatica: Quaderni di studi su Balcani, Anatolia, Iran, Caucaso e Asia Centrale 4 (July 19, 2016): 185–200.

Leal, Beatrice. “The Symbolic Display of Water in the Qusayr Amra Bathhouse, Jordan.” In Holy Water in the Hierotopy and Iconography of the Christian World, edited by Alexei Lidov, 232–61. Moscow: Theoria, 2017.

Vibert-Guigue, Claude, Ghazi Bisheh, and Frédéric Imbert. Les peintures de Qusayr ʿAmra: un bain omeyyade dans la bādiya Jordanienne. Beirut: Institut français d’archéologie du Proche-Orient; Department of Antiquities of Jordan, 2007.


A worksheet for this video is available here.

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Alexander Brey, “The Baths of al-Walid at Qusayr ‘Amra,” Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online, published 28 August 2020.

Alexander Brey is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at Wellesley College. His research interests include the visual cultures in the Umayyad caliphate and the medieval Mediterranean more generally, ranging from studies of the built environment to the trade and reuse of luxury goods. He is currently working on his book project, provisionally titled “The Caliph’s Prey: Hunting in the Visual Cultures of the Umayyad Empire,” and participating in the Getty Advanced Workshop on Network Analysis and Digital Art History.