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The Site of Thilkifl

Date of Submission: 21/01/2010
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
The State Board of Antiquities and Heritage
State, Province or Region:
Babel (Al-Hilla), Al-Kifil sub-district.
Coordinates: N32 13 37 E44 22 02
Ref.: 5497
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


1-The Shrine of THILKIFL :

This Shrine is attributed to the Prophet ISIKEL (one of the Israeli Prophets known as THILKIFL. It is one of the sacred Shrines of both Muslims and Jewish those have rotated running it according to the Political circumstances. A distinct dome was erected over the shrine, this type of domes has been known in the Islamic Architecture as Chevron Molding Conical Domes those have been dated to 716 H. /1316 A.D. , some scholars believe that it's older than this date probably of the 6th Century H. / 12th century A.D.

The total height of the dome is 17m, it raises about 8 m over the body of the structure.

The internal part of the dome seems half-circular, the shrine's chamber is rectangular measured 5.10 X 10.60 m, It is accessible through 2 entrances in the northern wall where the Tomb of the Prophet THILKIFL was built right before the entrances.

A Mosque and Minaret were constructed in the place by the Mongol Sultan (Oljito Mohammad Khudabada).

It has been accomplished by his son Sultan Sa'eed Bahadir Khan (716-736 H./1316-1335 A.D.). The cylindrical 24m height Minaret was constructed using burnt bricks and gypsum, it was decorated with geometrical, plant and inscription ornaments.

2- The Markets:

The Site also comprises heritage markets those dated to the Ottoman period, the historical sources mention that the well known owner of the Daniel Market(SUQ) in Baghdad was the very person to whom the construction of THILKIFL market attributed in the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhameed in the conclusion of the 18th century A.D.

The market consisted of 2 perpendicular rows of shops, the vaulted 1st of which was 120m length and 6.20m width, while the 2nd was 87m length and 5.60m width which has been also vaulted. The width of the mentioned shops was between 3-4 m, over the top of each vault there is a circular window 40cm diameter, the range of these shop's depth was about 4.5m ,the thickness of these partition walls was 90cm , eventually we should mention that this market wasn't a specialized one, where an individual might find anything he needs.

3-The Khans ( INNS) :

The Site comprised 3 heritage Khans as follows :

  • Khan Assayf (The Sword's Inn): It lies in the Eastern part of the Shrine, in the northern wall of which the Minaret's base was constructed. It consists of an open courtyard measured 12X15m which was surrounded by chambers those presided by Iwans roofed with tripped vaults and built using the gypsum and burnt bricks.
  • Khan Quraysh (The Inn of Quraysh): It lies to north of the Assayf Khan, it also consists of an open courtyard measured 10X12 m ,too, it was surrounded by the chambers those were presided by the Iwans. Here it comprised 2 stairs, the whole building was also built using Gypsum and burnt mud bricks.
  • Khan Attamr (The Inn of the Palm Dates): it lies in the western part of the shrine. It was also consisting of an open courtyard measured 15X20m, which has also been built with Gypsum and burnt bricks.
  • Khan Addibs (The Inn of the Palm Dates Syrup): It lies right in the middle of AI-Kifl market to the south of the shrine where a half-circular dome was centered over the building which consisted of a number of chambers and Iwans. The building was constructed with gypsum and mud bricks as well.

The building dates of the mentioned above Khans are not precisely determined but the architectural elements of which make us date them back to the 12th century H.,the 18th century A.D.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Being a religious assemblage where many nations' traditions and heritage integrated, made it a valuable and an exceptional global site. The shrine is the oldest Jewish tomb in Iraq and occupied a sacred position to the Muslims as well, where they used to hold their prayer and ceremonies in. It is the tomb of one of the Israeli prophets, those inhabited Iraq in the days of the Babylonian mighty king Nebuchadnezzar. Indeed, we can consider this shrine an appearance of the civilization's annexation not their conflicts or disputes.

From the point of view of architecture, the chevron molding tripped dome, is one of the distinct Iraqi Islamic architectural appearances those influenced by and affected on the Islamic world. As the site preserved many architectural styles such as: the shrine, the markets and the Inns, it would be appropriate saying that it's a perfect architectural complex that possesses its own features.

The difference of the historical periods of the site's buildings and the historical tales those referred to this place, made us certain that this spot lasted living and giving from the days of the foundation passing through to the present time without interruption.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The buildings scattered in the site are so genuine, so, the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage worked so hard to preserve them, avoiding changing the original features of the shrine besides dealing scientifically with the reconstruction works.

Regarding the safety, the Antiquity law No.55 of 2002 and other supporting Legislations, listed items stressing on the preservation of the originality and safety of the Archaeological sites including thilkifl.

Comparison with other similar properties

As an Iraqi architectural appearance, the Dome, which has first known by the Sumerians those have innovated this method for roofing their buildings, examples of the dome were found in Hassuna, Halaf, Al-Ubaid and Ur periods. Through the ages this Method lasted developing including this type which is called the chevron molding conical dome, often, found raising over the tombs since the half of the 5th century H. until the Ottoman period. This style was originally known from Iran, the oldest example of which is the shrine of Joond Qaboose in Jirjan, dated to 397 H./1007 A.D. from there it spread into the Islamic world, then spread towards Iraq during the 2nd half of the 5th century H. to the end of the 7th century H.

Thilkifl dome is similar to other examples from Iraq, since the number of the Incurvates (Crockets) comprising the first courses of the dome is equal and similar to the dome of Al-Hasan Al-Basri in the city of Al-Zubair of Basra, the projection now seen in the Incurvates of the 6th course is similar to that of the domes of Zumurud Khatoon and Omar Al-Sahrawardi in Baghdad.