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“Castle of the Slave” – inspired by one of the 7 Wonders of the World?

April 23, 2012

Qasr al-Abd was the centerpiece of the second-century B.C.E. family estate (known today as ‘Iraq al Amir) built by the Tobiads of Judah. Archaeologist and architect Stephen Rosenberg believes the ruin was built to be the burial monument of the Tobiads, modeled after the mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

New research by archaeologist Stephen Rosenberg suggests this complex in Jordan is based one of the ancient seven wonders of the world – the mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The article in the new Biblical Archaeology Review, previewed in Bible History Daily, argues the site was a burial complex for the Tobiad family.  Here’s an excerpt:

Qasr al-Abd, or Castle of the Slave, is a monumental, Hellenistic-style ruin located amid lush fields in Jordan’s Wadi as-Seer valley, not far from Amman. The centerpiece of a grand second-century B.C.E. estate built by the Jewish Tobiad family (known today as ‘Iraq al Amir), it has long been a mystery why the Tobiads built this impressive structure. Was it a temple? A hunting lodge? A pleasure palace? A tomb?

Based on the monument’s elaborate design, decoration and the evidence from the ‘Iraq al Amir estate, Stephen Rosenberg, author of “‘Castle of the Slave’—Mystery Solved” in the May/June 2012 issue ofBiblical Archaeology Review, proposes the ruin was actually the burial monument of the Tobiads, modeled after the mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

According to Rosenberg, Qasr al-Abd has many features characteristic of a monumental, Hellenistic-style mausoleum. First, the building’s two-story exterior is adorned with statues and carvings of various animals, including lions, eagles and panthers. Depictions of such powerful, majestic animals are often found in funerary contexts in the ancient world (including the mausoleum at Halicarnassus) and likely provided Qasr al-Abd, the burial monument of the Tobiads, with similar symbolism and meaning.

To the north of the Tobiads’ ‘Iraq al Amir estate are caves that were used to inter the family’s dead before the bones were finally deposited inside the mausoleum. The entrances to the caves are inscribed with the family name of the Tobiads. Photo by Erich Lessing.

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