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Volume 41, Number 5September/October 1990

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Qasr Tuba

Written and photographed by Rami G. Khouri

The only desert castle that still lives up to its billing as a vast, carefully crafted, remote, fortified palace is Qasr Tuba, which can only be reached with a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a guide. Tuba lies in a barren region 140 kilometers (87 miles) southeast of Amman and 35 kilometers (22 miles) from where the paved road ends. The effort is worth the drive - if one is romantic enough to relish a glimpse of eighth-century princely life on a desert estate.

Also thought to have been founded during the reign of Walid II, around 743, the unfinished Qasr Tuba is defined by a rectangular enclosure measuring 140 by 73 meters (460 by 240 feet), interrupted by semi-circular towers. It was designed as two identical, 70-meter (230-foot) square complexes joined by a corridor, though only one was finished. The building material, as at Mushatta, was large, square, fired bricks, often placed on stone foundations.

North of Qasr Tuba, alongside the dry riverbed, is the palace's ancient water supply -three massive wells built of stone, with adjacent plastered pools and round structures designed for use by the animals that powered the water-lifting devices.

Rami Khouri has written two guidebooks to Jordan's antiquities, heads that country's Friends of Archaeology society, and is host of a television interview program.

This article appeared on page 40 of the September/October 1990 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.

Check the Public Affairs Digital Image Archive for September/October 1990 images.