The Dome of the Chain: Identifying Purpose from History, Religion, and Politics

Mentor: Joe Lucchesi

Chain of the Dome

Abstract: In comparison to the more familiar and architecturally dominant Dome of the Rock, the Dome of the Chain has received much less scholarly study than its more famous counterpart. As a result, the significance, importance, and reasoning for its construction remains somewhat of an enigma to modern day religious scholars and historians. The overarching goal of this project is to examine various academic, religious, and architectural research efforts surrounding the Dome of the Chain, in order to propose or support an existing theory regarding the original function and purpose of the structure. Research indicates that historians, scholars, and religious leaders’ have theorized that the purpose and/or function of the Dome of the Chain generally fall into three main categories: (1) a religious monument, (2) a model for the Dome of the Rock, and (3) a treasury for Islamic rulers. Additionally this project provides an in-depth historical narrative on the lands, people, and cultures of the Palestinian region and their influence on the Dome of the Chain’s creation, as well as brief synopses of notable readings by historians and scholars on the structure. The purpose of these two sections is to understand what influences these scholars, historians, and religious leaders may have been exposed to while drafting their opinions and theories. The findings of this research conclude that the Dome of the Chain was most likely built as an Islamic place of Judgment for those souls who are about to enter heaven, among other religious and political tactics.