Munya al-Rummaniyya
Córdoba, Spain
The munya of Rummaniyya is a villa located in the hinterland of Cordoba, approximately 2 kilometers west of Madinat al-Zahra. Textual sources state that the villa was commissioned by al-Durri al-Saghir, a fata or high-ranking slave of the Spanish Umayyad Caliph al-Hakam II who rose through the ranks to serve in important administrative positions at court. Durri gifted the villa to al-Hakam II in 973/362 AH, providing an terminus ante quem for the construction of the villa. The remains of the estate (arabic munya ) known as the Munyat al-Rummaniya provide the best surviving physical evidence for the extensive zone of luxurious properties that developed in the countryside around Cordoba between the 8th and 11th centuries. 

The estate takes its name from a nearby stream known as the Wadi al-Rumman, or River of the Pomegranate, and is located about 3 km west of the palatine city of Madinat al-Zahra, with which it shares similarities in siting and conception. Like Madinat al-Zahra, the munya of Rummaniya is located at the foot of the Sierra Morena mountain range and is composed of a series of walled terraces. The remains of buildings and a monumental pool are located on the uppermost terrace, which affords views of the lower terraces and the landscape beyond. The substantial stone retaining walls that support the terraces, the pool, and connections to an aqueduct that fed the property are visible on the site. The grounds encompass an area of approximately 4.5 hectares.

The complex of buildings on the uppermost terrace consisted of a central block that contained a double audience hall overlooking the gardens and a number of adjoining rooms; a wing to the east that served as stables; and a block of buildings to the west surrounding a large, rectangular pool. The main building material for this complex were ashlar blocks made of local limestone. 

The double hall in the central block had a square platform that extended from the fourth onto the third terrace. This platform had a small pool. 

In the western block of buildings surrounding a lage pool, a second reception hall opened on its north side to the pool and on its south side to the gardens.

Like other Spanish Umayyad constructions and Abbasid constructions in Iraq before them, the munya of Rummaniyya utilized the natural landscape and hydraulic engineering as an expression of wealth and power.1


History of archaeological excavation

Ricardo Velázquez Bosco was the first to excavate at the site in 1910. In the 1920s, some of the foundations that Velázquez Bosco uncovered were destroyed and other components rebuilt with elements found at the site in the course of the construction of a summer house for the marquis of Murrieta. In the 1990s, the site was incorporated into the archaeological park of Madinat al-Zahra. From 2006-2009, a joint project led by Felix Arnold, Alberto Canto Garcia, and Antonio Vallejo Triano undertook a topographical survey of the site, several targetd excavations, and scientific analyses of the original plantings in the gardens. 


Dating and identification

Velázquez Bosco originally identified the ruins as the Munyat al-Amiriyya (La Almuniya de Alamiriya), a name still applied eroniously to the site in colloquial parlance today. Manuel Ocaña Jiménez disputed this interpretation in an article published in 1984, suggesting instead that the villa should be identified with that known as al-Rummaniyya in the sources, attributed to al-Durri al-Saghir. His suggestion, possibly confirmed by an inscription found on a marble basin at the site reading "in the year five [...]" that Ocaña Jiménez proposed referred to 355 AH (966 CE), continues to be accepted by scholars today.2 


Notes:

  1. Arnold, Canto García and Vallejo Triano, "Almunia de al-Rummaniyya," 10.
  2. For the basin, see Glaire Anderson, Felix Arnold, and Antonio Vallejo Triano, "Decoration," in Arnold et al. eds., Munyat al-Rummānīya, 132.

Sources:

"Almunia dal-Rummaniyya." Guia digital del patrimonio cultural de Andalucía. https://guiadigital.iaph.es/bien/inmueble/2767/cordoba/cordoba/almunia-al-rummaniyya [Accessed November 24, 2020]. Archived site: 

Anderson, Glaire D. The Islamic Villa in Early Medieval Iberia: Architecture and Court Culture in Umayyad Córdoba, 50-61. Farnham: Ashgate, 2013.

Arnold, Felix, Alberto Canto García and Antonio Vallejo Triano. "La Almunia de al-Rummanīyya. Resultados de una documentación arquitectónica." Cuadernos de Madinat al-Zahra 6 (2008): 181-204.

Arnold, Felix, Alberto Canto Garía and Antonio Vallejo Triano, Eds. Munyat al-Rummānīya: Ein Islamischer Landsitz bei Córdoba. Vol. 1: Palastanlagen. Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 2015.

Ruggles, D. Fairchild. Gardens, Landscape and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain, 111-118. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000.

Ocaña Jiménez, Manuel. "Las ruinas de 'Almamiría,' un yacimiento arqueológico erróneamente denominado." Al-Qantara 5 (1984): 367-381.

Velázquez Bosco, Ricardo. Madina Azzahra y Alamiria. Madrid, 1912.
Location
Villarrubia, Córdoba, Spain
Images & Videos
Associated Names
Events
ca. 960-970/350-360 AH
gifted to al-Hakam II in 973/362 AH
Style Periods
Dimensions
4.5 hectares (overall area)
Variant Names
منية الرمانية
Original
Munya al-Rummaniyya
Transliterated
Munyat al-Rummaniya
Alternate transliteration
Munyat al-Rummaniyya
Alternate transliteration
الرمانية
Original
Building Usages
farm
agricultural
housing development
residential