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  • Place of origin:

    Madinat al-Zahra (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 960-980 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Marble, carved

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case 1E, shelf EXP

This capital would have formed the head or top part of a column. It comes from the palace complex of Madinat al-Zahra near Córdoba in southern Spain. The complex was founded in 936 by a member of the Umayyad dynasty of Spain.

It shows the transition in decorative styles which occurred in Islamic art as the heritage of classical antiquity began to evolve into a more abstract, recognisably Islamic aesthetic. The capital has a shape that is clearly rooted in ancient Roman forms, but the surfaces have been decorated with plant motifs. It resembles capitals made in the Byzantine empire.

Physical description

Marble capital.

Place of Origin

Madinat al-Zahra (probably, made)


ca. 960-980 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Marble, carved


Height: 31.5 cm, Width: 47 cm, Depth: 30 cm, Weight: 42 kg

Descriptive line

Marble capital with plant motifs, Spain (Córdoba),ca. 960-980.

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

Capitals with Realistic Decoration
(bottom and centre)
Spain, Córdoba
950–75 and 960–80

The lower two column capitals are from the palace complex of Madinat al-Zahra near Córdoba, founded in 936. The lowest has a ‘composite’ form that is entirely Roman, except for the inscription in Arabic along the top edge. The middle capital has the same shape, but the surfaces have been decorated with plant motifs.

Carved marble
Museum nos. A.10-1922; A.55-1925. Given by Dr W.L. Hildburgh, FSA [2006]








Middle East Section

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