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Mosque Name: Qasr Qastal

Country: Jordan

City: Qastal

Year of construction (AH): 101 AH

Year of construction (AD): 720 AD

GPS: 31°44’45.68”N 35°56’23.24”E

Gibson Classification: Petra

Rebuilt facing Mecca: never

No mihrab evident.


The Umayyad complex at Qastal has been partially replaced by a modern residential building. The Qasr was most likely built by Yazid II, or earlier. The castle complex and external mosque are oriented within 5.21° degrees of Petra. The site also contains one of the oldest minarets in the world. The external graveyard contains some examples of early Umayyad graves, where the deceased were laid on their side facing Petra. Earlier Western writers, calculating from the direction of the feet (281.82°) assumed that the bodies were facing Jerusalem which is 273.14° (a difference of 8.68°.) A number of inscribed tombstones date back to the Umayyad and Abbasid periods, and are currently on display at the Madaba Archaeological Museum. Dan Gibson has proposed that this is the cite of the Battle of Badr, where Muslim troops intercepted arms being transported to the Quraysh tribe living in the Petra region. See the video here. There are two graveyards here, dating to very early Islamic times. The smaller graveyard to the left of the building in the photo below contains the same number of graves as is attributed to the Muslim dead at the Battle of Badr, while the other graveyard is much larger and may be the graves of the polytheists from Petra.

While the later Qastal fortress is often attributed to Yazid II, the site of Qastal was occupied long before the Umayyad era. For centuries it’s access to water made it a favorite stopping place for caravans going from Petra to Syria. It is interesting to note that this Qasr is in line-of-site communication with Qasr Muwaqqar and later, Qasr Mushatta.

The mosque mihrab was originally rectangular and later converted to the typical semicircular shape. The palace is dated to the reign of Yazid II ibn Abdulmalik (720-740AD) based on a reference to a palace in a contemporary poem to Yazid written by Khthayyir ibn Abdurrahman Azza (644-723AD). However, reference in a later historical account supports the suggestion that it was completed before 744 but the actual time of construction is difficult to determine. Since it faced Petra, one might assume that it was constructed early in the Umayyad period.

There has been some disagreement over the meaning of Qastal. Some of the local claim that the name is actually Qatal, or massacure, or small war. This is based on the number of graves that all come from the same time period in the 7th century.

More images can be found on Dan Gibson's page on Badr.

More images can be found on Dan Gibson's page on Badr.

Visitors at the Qatal Hotel have views of the Qasr and the graveyards.

Visitors at the Qatal Hotel have views of the Qasr and the graveyards.

Dan Gibson stands beside one of the more modern graves.

Dan Gibson stands beside one of the more modern graves.

Link to the Battle of Badr web page with more information on Qasr al-Qastal

References for the Mosque

Addison, Erin, 2000. “The Mosque at al-Qastal: Report from al-Qastal Conservation and Development Project, 1999-2000”, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 44: 477-491.

Carlier, Patricia, and Morin, Frédéric, 1987. “Archaeological Researches at Qastal Second Mission, 1985”, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 31: 221-246.

Arce, Ignacio, 2018. “Qasṭal al-Balqāʾ Revisited (I) – The Qaṣr During the Umayyad Period: Plan, Vaulting and Phasing”, in: Markus Ritter and Mattia Guidetti (eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, vol. 1: Islamic Archaeology, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 579-600.

Gaube, Heinz, 1977. “ʿAmmān, Ḫarāne und Qasṭal: Vier frühislamische Bauwerke in Mitteljordanien”, Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 93: 52-86.

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