Conservation efforts conducted by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, the Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro in Rome and the World Monuments Fund recently preserved an Umayyad invocation at Qusayr ‘Amra, a site just over 50 miles east of Amman, Jordan. The early/mid eighth century C.E. inscription translates to “Oh God! Make al-Walid ibn Yazid virtuous.” The inscription, painted in Kufic calligraphy, does not include the standard epithets used to describe Umayyad caliphs, implying that it was written before Al-Walid II took the throne. Al-Walid II’s short reign was marked by his preference for pleasure over piety, including the commissioning of artistic projects at “desert palaces” such as Qusayer ‘Amra. As such, the princely inscription may predate some of the nearby murals attributed to his reign. Until recently, the white text was covered in dirt and remained unreadable even after earlier attempts at conservation. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Qusayr ‘Amra is well known for its painted murals depicting hunting, dancing, court and allegorical motifs, and recent conservation efforts have exposed some of the most spectacularly preserved examples of Umayyad art.
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