Mar Tuma
Mosul, Iraq
Mar Tuma, the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, in Mosul, is a Jacobite church predating the Iraqi Zangid dynasty (1127-1222 CE). While the structure has visual continuity with thirteenth century construction, it is believed to have been built several centuries earlier, having been referenced in accounts of the Abbasid caliphate al Mahdi's (b.754/137 AH-d.785/168 AH) travels. The site has long been an object of Christian, and particularly Syriac veneration, as well as a site of international and historical inquiry since the early nineteenth century. 

According to a description of the church provided by Claudis James Rich, who visited Mar Tuma on his travels through the Kurdish regions of Iraq in the 1830s, the church was constructed along a three-part plan, comprised of the church's center and two aisles, demarcated by heavy pointed arches and large octagonal piers. The church sanctuary held three painted and canopied altars, and was accessible through a grand marble portal, depicting Christ and the twelve apostles in intricately carved medallions, and surrounded by curling scrolls. Rich also noted a carved stone niche at the forward most end of one of the aisles, which he described as an object of local veneration for its connections to Christian antiquity. Among the carved ornamentation surrounding the niche, he noted bands of Arabic inscription in a variation of Kufic script. These inscriptions, as well as the synthesis of diverse cultural and religious influences in the site's visual vocabulary has led to its comparison with the Muslim shrine of Imam Yahya, built by Sultan Badr al-Din Lu'lu in the thirteenth century.

Sources:
Ring, Trudy, Robert M. Salkin, and Sharon La Boda. International Dictionary of Historic Places. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1994.

Rich, Claudius James. Narrative of a residence in Koordistan, and on the site of ancient Nineveh: with journal of a voyage down the Tigris to Bagdad and an account of a visit to Shirauz and Persepolis, Volume 2. [location of publication not given] : J.D. Duncan, 1836.

Further Reading:
Bell, Gertrude Lowthian. Amurath to Amurath. University of California: Dutton. 1911.


Location
Mosul, Iraq
Associated Names
Events
770/153 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Church of Mar Tuma
Translated
Church of Mar Toma
Alternate
Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle
Translated
Mar Tuma
Transliterated
Mar Touma
Alternate transliteration
Building Usages
church
religious
Materials/Techniques
stone
Keywords
churches