The 'Nabataean' Blocked-out Capital in Its Wider Framework: A Closer Look

Matthias Grawehr, Aleksandra Brzozowska-Jawornicka


The paper offers a fresh analysis of the long-discussed subject of the ‘Nabataean’ blocked-out capitals. The phenomenon is presented on a wider background, with particular reference to Nabataea and Cyprus. The definition and description of the blocked-out capitals are followed by a short history of research since their first discovery. A focus of previous research lays on the transformations of the capitals from the classical forms to their simplified versions. Presently many aspects of this change are well known, but there are still questions that need to be answered. We argue that the properties of the material used to carve this special type of decoration were the basic reason for using the simplified forms instead of the fully ornamented: the local stone, present in all of the areas where the blocked-out capitals were used, was characterised by low quality, and enforced the use of simpler shapes. This interdependence between the material and the form constitutes the main topic of the paper, at the same time presenting a new approach to the studies of the ‘Nabataean’ blocked-out capitals. As a further result of our research we discuss the use of the capitals in their contexts: in rock-cut and freestanding architecture


Nabataea, Petra, Cyprus, Nabataean capitals, blocked-out capitals

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