Keystone from a Vaulted Ceiling

Date: ca. 1220–30

Culture: German

Medium: Limestone

Dimensions: Overall: 23 5/8 x 21 3/8 x 27 1/2 in. (60 x 54.3 x 69.9 cm)

Classification: Sculpture-Architectural

Credit Line: Gift of Clarence H. Mackay, Archer M. Huntington, Stephen H. P. Pell and Bashford Dean, 1928

Accession Number: 28.99.1


During the 1100s and 1200s, knights from western Europe trying to establish a Christian kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital built fortified settlements in the Holy Land. Established by French Crusaders in the 1100s, Castle Montfort was purchased in the 1220s by the Teutonic Knights, a German crusading order who rebuilt and renamed it Castle Starkenberg. This keystone was probably carved during the restoration. After the castle fell in 1272 to Baybars, the Mamluk sultan of Egypt, the surviving knights retired to Acre (now cAkko, Israel), the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land. In 1926 the Museum participated in the excavation of the ruined castle. Among the diverse finds were a fragment of a painted icon, a Roman marble wine jar, a terracotta lamb with an inscription in Arabic, and a stained glass fragment with a face. Some objects found during that excavation are exhibited at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Up-to-date information concerning archaeological excavations at Montfort can be found on the website for the Montfort Castle Project.