Before Columbus, many maps of the world showed Jerusalem as the center of the world. Jerusalem — holy, treasured, and long fought over by the three great monotheistic religions — has been destroyed and rebuilt more than a dozen times. Its fabled walls corral a tangle of colorful, holy sites, and more than 30,000 residents — most with a deep-seated reason to live so close to their religious ground zero.
Shadowed in mystery and the object of fascination for centuries, the ancient Arab palace of Quseir ‘Amra is truly a gem of Late Antiquity. A royal palace, fortress, and retreat, Quiser ‘Amra is an artistic and cultural “microcosm” of the the Middle East during an era of unprecedented transition. In this exclusive interview with James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia, Professor Fatema AlSulaiti discusses the design and art of Quseir ‘Amra (located in modern-day Jordan), the confluence of Byzantine, Persian, and Arab cultures in the Levant at the end of Late Antiquity, and how modern design can be informed by ancient principles.