The Last Surviving Crusader Capital in the Cenacle


David Christian Clausen

In an article published in 1983, Bianca and Gustav Kühnel draw our attention to what may be the only Crusader-era capital remaining in the Upper Room of the Last Supper on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Now supporting the qubba (dome) over the stairway between the upper and lower chambers, the capital was apparently re-used by medieval Muslim architects and placed in its current position.

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In style and size it is quite different from the capitals atop columns found elsewhere in the building. The authors point to the unique combination of motifs carved into the capital that reflect a developing Christian symbolism that combines the eagle, the rock, Christ, and Satan with baptism and the Eucharist. On the face of each capital are three eagles – the one in the center looks to the side as two other eagles (chicks?) place their heads upon its breast. Barely visible in their enlarged…

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