in contact with Byzantine civilisation in other places, there is no known instance of a
similar style of building having been erected by them.
The platform on which the Dome of the Rock stands is paved with limestone slabs,
and carries several minor buildings, of which the "Tribunal of the Prophet David," or
" Dome of the Chain," in front of the east door of the mosque, is the most remarkable.
This beautiful little building is an open pavilion of eleven sides, with six internal columns,
which support an hexagonal drum and a domed roof. It has a "mihrab" on the south face.
The bases, shafts, and capitals differ greatly from each other, and have been taken from
an older building. The last are of a late Byzantine style, and have none of those classical
features which are so characteristic of the capitals of the Dome of the Rock. The
interior of the small dome is overlaid with faience, which produces a very pretty effect.
According to tradition David's judgment-seat stood beneath the dome, and it was here
that Mohammed caught a first glimpse of the houris of Paradise. In the twelfth century
the building was looked upon as the tomb of St. James, the brother of our Lord, whose
body is said to have been removed to this spot from the Valley of Jehoshaphat, where
it was first buried. The remaining buildings are the " Dome of the Spirits," beneath
which the natural rock may be seen; the "Dome of El Khydr" (Elias, or St. George);
the " Dome of the Prophet Mohammed," and other structures of less importance. Near
the flight of steps which leads down from the platform on the south is the "Summer
Pulpit," a beautiful structure in marble, which affords a fine example of Arab art in the
sixteenth century. The pulpit was built by Berhan ed Din Kadi, 798 a.h. (see page 49).
Passing from the " Dome of the Rock" to the Mosque el Aksa, at the south end of
the Haram esh Sherif, the eye is at once struck by the difference in style, and by the
inferior character of the material used in the construction of the latter (see page 61).
The porch is Gothic, and appears to be the work of the Crusaders. The mosque is
about one hundred and ninety feet wide and two hundred and seventy feet long, and is
divided into seven aisles. The building lies north and south, and the centre of the transept
at the south end is covered by a dome. The columns of the centre aisles are heavy
and stunted, and have a circumference of nine feet three inches to a height of sixteen
feet five inches; the remaining columns are better proportioned. The capitals of the
columns are of four different kinds : those in the centre aisle are heavy and badly designed;
those under the dome are of the Corinthian order, of white marble, and similar to those
in the Dome of the Rock; those in the east aisle are of a heavy basket-shaped design;
and those east and west of the dome are basket-shaped, but small and well proportioned.
These last are made of plaster. The columns and piers are connected by a rude architrave,
which consists of beams of roughly-squared timber enclosed in a wooden casing which
is poorly ornamented. Some of the windows are very good, one especially, of a delicate
blue colour, which is situated in the tambour of the dome, and only seen immediately on
entering the mosque. There is another fine window in the Mosque of Zechariah, but