Madrasa al-Jaqmaqiya, Syria

12th century Islamic religious school and modern day museum

By CyArk


Madrasa TextCyArk

Expedition Overview

Madrassa al-Jaqmaqia was documented as part of Project Anqa, a collaboration between the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), CyArk and Carleton University, funded by the Arcadia Foundation in the UK. The project began in 2015 in response to the catastrophic loss of heritage in the Middle East and aimed to protect monuments by providing training on digital preservation techniques for local heritage professionals in the region. CyArk provided several training and workshops in Lebanon to Syrian heritage professionals in 2016 and 2017 in partnership with the UNESCO Office for the Preservation of Syrian Cultural Heritage. The Madrassa al-Jaqmaqia in Damascus was documented by the trained members of the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums using photogrammetry and LiDAR. 

Madrasa ArchesCyArk

Introducing Madrasa al-Jaqmaqiya

A madrasa, usually defined as an Islamic religious school, may also refer to a multi-function building that incorporates a mosque or mausoleum in addition to spaces for teaching and housing students. The Madrasa al-Jaqmaqiya built between 1418 and 1420 for the governor of Damascus Jaqmaq al-Arghunshawiin Damascus, includes a mausoleum. Dating back to the Mamluk era, the building is characterized by its black and white arches, ablaq masonry which features alternating black and white stone, and mix of floral and geometric motifs. Bands of stone-carved Arabic inscriptions also decorate the building, reflecting the Mamluk appreciation for the symbolic power of architecture. The Madrasa al-Jaqmaqiya has transformed over the years, from additional rooms added to the upper level in the 19th century, to restoration work following damage to the roof and walls during World War II.

View inside the Madrasa al-Jaqmaqiya

Madrasa SlatesCyArk

Museum of Arabic Calligraphy

Today, the Madrasa al-Jaqmaqiya is the Museum of Arabic Calligraphy. Collections of historic stone inscriptions and manuscripts are on display throughout the building. The museum contains a variety of calligraphy styles and forms (for example Naskh, Farsi, Riq’a, and Diwani) that show the development of the Arabic alphabet and highlight the creativity of Syrian calligraphers. Some samples within the museum even date back to the pre-Islamic period.

Madrasa FountainCyArk

Open Heritage 3D by CyArkCyArk

Data from this project is now freely available through Open Heritage 3D.

Download the data from this project.

About Open Heritage 3D

The mission of the Open Heritage 3D project is to:

● Provide open access to 3D cultural heritage datasets for education, research and other
non-commercial uses.

● Minimize the technical, financial and legal barriers for publishers of 3D heritage data.

● Promote discovery and re-use of datasets through standardized metadata and data formats.

● Foster community collaboration and knowledge sharing in the 3D cultural heritage community.

● Share best practices and methodologies for the capture, processing and storage of 3D cultural heritage data

Credits: Story

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This project was made possible through the generous support of the Arcadia Fund and the following partners:

DGAM Syria


Carleton University

UNESCO Office for Safeguarding Syrian Cultural Heritage

Yale University

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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