Saturday, April 9, 2011

The fortified half-round city of al-Rafiqa.

A.  This city was founded by the caliph al-Mansur around AD 772, soon surrounded by additional suburbs and palace complexes, most of which remained unfortified. (after N. Hagen et al.)

1.--fortified wall surrounding al-Rafiqa, with a moat all around except outside the southern wall overlooking the Euphrates River;

2.--North Gate;

3.--Bab al Sibal, East Gate;

4.--Bab Baghdad, south-eastern gate;

5.--West Gate;

6.--main mosque;


8.--surviving grid pattern of streets;

9.--Qasr al-Banat small palace;

10.--main palace of the caliph Harun al-Rashid;

11.--"Ayyubid citadel, late 12th or early 13th century;

12.--suburb of 9th or 10th century;

13.--suburb o al-Raqqa al-Muhtariqa;

14.-- 15.--irrigation and drainage canals;

16.--defensive wall built by Tahir ibn al-Husayn.

B. North Gate of al-Rafiqa (after N. Hagen et al.)

Towers with a rear open face.

In some cases the back of the tower was left open to make it easier to haul up supplies and projectiles from the ground level to the fighting platforms above.  In addition, the open back prevented the enemy from taking the tower and using it against the defenders.  Drawing by Marcus Audens.

Rashid (Rosetta)

The medieval fortifications at the port city of Rashid (Rosetta) illustrated by H. Boot in the 19th century, showing a gate and flanking towers that have since disappeared.  In Egypt, Sultan Baybars (1260 - 1277)was credited with repairing the walls of Alexandria and adding a moat, as well as building a tower at Rashid (Rosetta).  Towards the close of the Mamluk period the fortifications of Rashid were strengthened yet again.  Drawing is by Marcus Audens.

Roman Warship -- Trireme

Drawn by Marcus Audens

Deserted Oasis of Ayn Umm al-Dabaqi in Egypt

A remarkably complete, mud-brick fortress which probably dates from between he 10th and 12th centuries. It certainly includes features that are more advanced than those seen in pre-Islamic desert forts. (author's photo). Drawing by Marcus Audens.


David Nicolle, Saracen Strongholds AD 630 - 1050. the Middle East and Central Asia, Osprey Pub., Fortress 76, 2008

Harlech Castle

A plan showing the use of circular towers to command the corners and approaches.  Source: Philip Warner, Sieges of the Middle Ages, (London:Bell, 1968).

Citadel of Baykand (Paikend), Uzbekistan

B--Plan of the upper floor.

Fortifications of Central Asia -- Tower 2 of the second Citadel (shahristan)

A-B-- Baykand (Paikend) in Uzbekistan, pre-Islamic but remaining in use until the 9th century AD (after A.R. Mukhamedkhanov et al.)

A--Isometric reconstruction of the tower;

B--Plan of the upper floor.

Balkh, Afganistan

C--isometric reconstruction of a section of the brick citadel in the 7th and 8th centuries AD (after E. Elsin)

North Gate, al-Rafiqa

C --plan of upper chamber

D -- restored section through the gate