Remains of Samarra

Date: 836–92
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Iraq
Description: In 836, the caliph Harun al-Rashid (also known as al-Mu'tasim, r. 833–42) moved the Abbasid capital from Baghdad to Samarra, where he and his successors built extensive palace complexes. The capital was moved back to Baghdad in 892, after which point the population gradually declined. For this reason, the site retains much of its ninth-century architecture, although largely deteriorated because of the fragility of mud brick.

Notable remains include the spiral minaret of a mosque associated with caliph al-Mutawakkil (r. 847–61), carved or molded stucco decoration from various types of buildings, and painted figures of women. One of the stucco carving styles from Samarra, the so-called Beveled Style, is also preserved in luxury export goods, for instance a pair of carved teak doors that were probably produced by artisans in Samarra but ended up in Takrit (Iraq).
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 5
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons, Metropolitan Museum, © Trustees of the British Museum, Navid Jamali

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