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The Zangid bridge of Ǧazīrat ibn ʿUmar (ʿAyn Dīwār/Cizre): a New Look at the carved panel of an armoured horseman

Le pont zengide de Ǧazīrat Ibn ʿUmar (ʿAyn Diwār/Cizre) : nouveau regard sur le bas-relief représentant un cavalier en armure
الجسر الزنكي في جزيرة ابن عمر (عين ديوار): نظرة جديدة على النقش الحجري الناتئ الذي يمثل فارساً يرتدي درعاً
David Nicolle
p. 223-264

Abstracts

The remains of the bridge which spanned or was intended to span the Tigris at ʿAyn Dīwār in the north-eastern corner of Syria incorporates a series of carved panels of Zodiac figures. It is believed to have been built in the second half of the 12th century, and although both bridge and carvings were published about a century ago, its location in a tense area, very close to the borders of Iraq and Turkey, has meant that little further study has been conducted.
This article looks at written evidence for the dating of the structure, as well as architectural and archaeological evidence. However, its primary focus is upon one of the carved panels, namely that illustrating an armoured horseman who holds a sword in his right hand and a severed head in his left. He is identified as the astrological figure al-Mirrīḫ and is of particular interest because he is fully armoured in contemporary Middle Eastern Islamic style.
This article draws together various sources of evidence to interpret the carving of an armoured horseman and to use it to better understand similarly dated documentary and pictorial sources, as well as recently discovered items of 12th and 13th century arms and armour from Syria.

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Excerpt

Outline

Previous Studies
The History of the Bridge
The Carved Panels
The Fully Armoured Horseman
A Leather or Metallic Lamellar Cuirass?
The Inscriptions
Conclusions

First lines

Previous Studies

Many scholars and historians have made reference to the remarkable if largely ruined bridge which either spanned, or was intended to span, the river Tigris a few kilometers downstream from what is now the Turkish frontier town of Cizre (figures 1-5). However, they were obliged to rely upon the work of Conrad Preusser who studied this ruined bridge, as well as other historical structures in the area, early in the 20th century. His findings, photographs and drawings were published a few years before the outbreak of the First World War (Preusser 1911). The famous British traveller, archaeologist and spy, Gertrude Bell, was also active in this part of the Middle East, her photographs forming an invaluable archive now held by Newcastle University Library in England (figures 6 & 9). The fact that no major archaeological or survey work appears to have been undertaken on the bridge, or its remarkably well preserved carved limestone panels, highlights not only the location of...

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References

Bibliographical reference

David Nicolle, « The Zangid bridge of Ǧazīrat ibn ʿUmar (ʿAyn Dīwār/Cizre): a New Look at the carved panel of an armoured horseman », Bulletin d’études orientales, LXII | 2014, 223-264.

Electronic reference

David Nicolle, « The Zangid bridge of Ǧazīrat ibn ʿUmar (ʿAyn Dīwār/Cizre): a New Look at the carved panel of an armoured horseman », Bulletin d’études orientales [Online], LXII | 2014, Online since 04 June 2014, connection on 16 December 2017. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/beo/1404 ; DOI : 10.4000/beo.1404

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About the author

David Nicolle

Nottingham University

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Copyright

© Institut français du Proche-Orient

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