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The Unfinished 'Lonely Castle' Carved Around the 1st Century CE

Ancient History | January 5, 2017

Known as “The Lonely Castle,” Qasr al-Farid, is an astonishing ancient tomb that can rival the majesty among carved architecture in the world. Of all the countless ruins located in the archeological playground of Mada’in Saleh, this one is carved into a massive boulder and stands literally alone.

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Tomasz Trzesniowski | Creative Commons

How it is described as a “castle” is misleading, because the grand carving is really a burial site built to be a part of the ancient Nabatean of Hegra.

A unique construction technique, the Nabateans envisioned their tombs to be chiseled right out of the rock from the top to bottom. Same with Qasr al-Farid, although the site seems to never have been finished so the craftsmanship and the tomb's precision slowly deteriorate near the base of the structure.

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Richard HArgas on Wikipedia | Creative Commons

Normally, this may be viewed as a strike against the site in regard to its beauty or its archeological significance. However, the tapering finish on the facade turned out to be a windfall. The incomplete section of the tomb is an excellent window into the steps that were taken by the ancient carvers prior to polishing the uneven work away.

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Tomasz Trzesniowski | Creative Commons

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