The Ghaznavid palace

Also known as the Palace of Mas‘ud III

An important exemple of Iranian palace architecture of the medieval period

Brought to light during excavations in the years 1958-1966, its remnants were conserved and opened to the public. The site is largely dismantled today. The excavators associated it to the Ghaznavid Sultan Mas‘ud III (r. 1099-1114) and dated it to 505/1112, with Ghurid phases in the second half of the 12th century. After the Mongol invasions, the building fell into disrepair. The site became a small cemeterial area that included a domed ziyara, still standing today above the west side of the palace (ziyara of Ibrahim). 

The palace had a central rectangular courtyard surrounded by four iwans and by a continuous sequence of antichambers, each leading to an inner room. The south iwan lead to a domed throne room; a mosque was accessed via the north-west antichambers. Two large domed rooms flanked the entrance in the north area. The south-west part of the building accomodated the private quarters, which were arranged around a smaller courtyard. 

The palace was decorated with polychrome wall panelings in marble, terracotta, and stucco. Highlights of the marble decoration included a dado with a poem in Persian, one with benedictory wishes in Arabic, a stepped paneling with an octagons pattern,  and panels with a whirls pattern. A large variety of terracotta and stucco panelings covered the upper part of the walls. 

Image gallery

New hypotheses for the history and the reconstruction of the palace

Supported by investigations on the archival documentation and on the materials (marbles, terracotta and stucco, ceramics, metalwork, coins), recent research is focusing on the history of the different phases of the building, on the reconstruction of its axonometry, and on the positioning of the ornamental decoration. The latter were newly developed thanks to this project. 

The foundation of the building antedates the works conducted in the reign of Mas'ud III and documented by inscriptions. Several phases are attested for the Ghaznavid period: the one linked to the core areas of the building (main courtyard, four iwans, antechambers and rooms behind) and to the main decorative program could date to the end of the 11th century. A Ghurid phase in Mu'izz al-din reign in Ghazni is revealed by monumental inscriptions and changes in the terracotta and stucco decoration of the antichambers.


The house of lustre-wares

A private residence of the medieval period

Brought to light during excavations in the years 1957, this private residence is named after the almost intact assemblage of lustre-painted ceramics found in it. The site is completely dismantled today.

The excavators attributed it to the Ghurid period, suggesting that its abandonment dates back to the Mongol conquest of Ghazni in 1221. 


Mosques, mausoleums, cemeteries

Monuments of religious devotion preserving traces of Ghazni's medieval past

Dating from the Ghaznavid to the modern period, these buildings scattered in and around Ghazni were documented through extensive surveys in the years 1957-1978. Many exhibited re-employed marbles of the Ghaznavid period. Today, most of the buildings and cemeteries have lost the features documented in earlier years.