UCL Qatar
كلية لندن الجامعية قطر


Public Lecture Series Resumes

30 September 2012


Dr Timothy Power, Lecturer in Islamic Archaeology at UCL Qatar, presents The View from the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus: Three Thousand Years of Syrian Civilisation. This lecture, commencing at 6.30pm on Tuesday 16 October, is open to all members of the public. It marks the resumption of UCL Qatar's successful Public Lecture Series following the summer hiatus.

When Damascus was emerging as the capital of a far-flung Arab empire, which at its height took in that vast swath of territory from Seville to Samarkand, the Umayyad caliph al-Walīd I undertook to build a great new mosque in the heart of the city. Yet the site of the mosque was already of considerable antiquity. It had previously been occupied by the Byzantine church of St. John the Baptist, and indeed a shrine within the mosque still contains the relic of the severed head, famously cleft from his body for the sake of Salome’s dance. The wall footings of the Umayyad Mosque belong to the inner compound of the two thousand year old temple to Jupiter Damascenus, whilst Graeco-Roman architectural fragments from an even larger outer enclosure are found littered about the city. A sequence of still earlier temples reaches back to the Iron Age, when Ahaz, King of Judah, came to make burnt offerings and pour libations at the far-famed altar of the Aramaean god Hadad-Ramman. This public lecture tells the story of this remarkable monument and its fabled precursors, the view from which takes in some three thousand years of Syrian civilisation.

The lecture will last for approximately one hour. A food and refreshments reception will follow at the Auditorium, Georgetown University Building.