Iraq al-Amir

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`Iraq al Amir
`Iraq al Amir is located in Jordan
`Iraq al Amir
`Iraq al Amir
Location in Jordan
Coordinates: 31°55′N 35°45′E / 31.917°N 35.750°E / 31.917; 35.750Coordinates: 31°55′N 35°45′E / 31.917°N 35.750°E / 31.917; 35.750
CountryFlag of Jordan.svg Jordan
GovernorateAmman Governorate
Time zoneUTC + 2

'Iraq al-Amir or Araq el-Amir (Arabic:عراق الأمير - literally, "Caves of the Prince"), is the name shared by a town and nearby caves, within the municipality of Amman in the Jordan Valley. Located about 15 km southwest of the town of Wadi as-Seer, it has a population of about 6000 people, mostly members of the Abbadi tribe. It is located on hills with high and medium altitude, in an area with many springs and famous for its olive trees and other forest trees. About 0.5 km south of the town stands the archaeological site known as Al-Iraq, dominated by a partially restored palace known locally as Qasr Al-Abd, literally "Palace of the Servant", perhaps in connection to the name etched in the nearby caves, believed to be the name of the owner of the ancient estate. There are many caves in the hills which were inhabited during the Copper Age.

Iraq Al-Amir is a stop on the Jordan Trail. It is a side trip of Region 3, Salt to Wadi Zarqa (84.4 km). It is 22.3 km from Salt or 15.2 km from Fuheis. From Iraq Al-Amir, the trail makes its way to Husban (19.5 km away).

Qasr al-Abd[edit]

Qasr Al-Abd is one of the most important Hellenistic ruins in Jordan, especially because most of the Hellenistic ruins were built over in Roman times and again later on.

The first known written description of the castle comes down to us from Flavius Josephus, the Romano-Jewish historian. His description goes back to the site's founding. The castle was used in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The rectangular building was constructed from white limestone from the surrounding area and measures 18x37.5 metres, rising to about 14 meters. The walls are between 90 centimeters to 3.90 meters thick.[dubious ] Josephus maintained that it was surrounded by a moat and a protective wall.

The ground floor of the castle has a north and a south gate, as well as a north and south corridor. On the west side of both gates, there are four rooms. On the east side there are steps leading to the second floor. On the north side there are water tanks and two lobbies. On the east side are seven windows for lighting and ventilation.

The upper floor has bedrooms and reception rooms. This part of the castle was unfinished, and was partly destroyed by an earthquake in the fourth century BCE.

In the summer of 2018, Qasr Al-Abd was renovated by the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism and Antiques. Several paved pathways were created around the structure and a building now houses a small theatre that plays an animation, narrated in Arabic and subtitled in French. The animation illustrates what is thought to be the original vision for the dwelling, a summer lodge, surrounded by water, to give the illusion of a boat floating in a sea.

Women's Cooperative[edit]

Iraq Al-Amir is home to the Iraq Al-Amir Women's Cooperative. The Iraq Al-Amir Knowledge Station is located a short distance opposite the parking for the cave parking. It is next to the mosque. The cooperative involves women and girls from nearby Wadi Al Seer villages and produces hand-made paper, ceramics and clay pottery, as well as hand-woven fabrics. The fabric is crafted in a traditional manner, using a hand-weaving mill and three looms.

History of settlement[edit]

The area was first settled in the Middle Stone Age (10,000-8000) BCE. The caves dwellings continued to be used throughout the Bronze Age, as well as the first and second parts of the Iron Age. Settlement continued throughout the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, and most flourished into the Hellenistic period, after Alexander the Great conquered the region in 332 BCE. Ptolemy Philadelphus built a city there, transferring population from Tyre in Phoenicia, so that during Hellenistic rule, Iraq al-Amir was known under the Greek name Tyros. The city particularly prospered in the Byzantine period. It was built around the 3rd century BCE, and reused under Byzantine rule before being destroyed by an earthquake.[dubious ] Pieces of Islamic pottery were also discovered at the site, specifically from the Umayyad and Mamluk times.

See also[edit]


  • Will, E. and Larché, F., ‘Iraq al Amir, le Château du Tobiade Hyrcan. 2 vols (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1991) (BAH 132).
  • Larché, F., ‘Iraq al-Amir, le Château du Tobiade Hyrcan. Vol. II: Restitution et Reconstruction. 2 vols (Beirut: IFPO, 2005) (BAH 172).
  • Rosenberg, Stephen Gabriel, Airaq al-Amir, The Architecture of the Tobiads (Oxford: Hadrian Books, 2006) (BAR International Series 1544).
  • Rosenberg, Stephen, "Felicien de Saulcy and the Rediscovery of Tyros in Jordan," Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 138,1 (2006), 35-41.
  • 'Iraq al-Amir, guide historique et archéologique du domaine des Tobiades. Beyrouth, Guides archéologiques de l’Ifpo, 2010.

External links[edit]