Houses of the Servants
As we have seen, the residential function is clear in the "Higher Houses", unlike the so-called Houses of the Servants, where the servants carried out their work, aimed at looking after the eating needs of the important officials living in the bigger houses located further south of Medina Azahara.
But still, this statement needs to be clarified, as the western house could have had a residential use as well as for the servants: from the archaeological point of view, not a single architectonic element has been preserved in this house that could allow to finally establish the second use mentioned. Therefore, we must highlight that the western house connected to the inner street from the "eastern house" of the servants, and to the mentioned "Higher Trapezoidal Space" through a stairway attached to the northern side of the courtyard of the building. Besides, we can certainly claim that the western house had a higher floor, accessible through the mentioned stairway.
As for the eastern house, its domestic use is clearly proved, mentioned before. Organized around a courtyard, two parts can be distinguished in the house, separated by a big exterior door with two shutters. At the eastern end, there is an important group of rooms with a front arcade and latrine, forming a hierarchical and autonomous unit compared to the rest of the building. This space, with a residential character, was probably occupied by the kitchen manager (sahib al-matbah), in charge of controlling and managing the activity carried out in the rest of the rooms, where there was a predominance of elements related to food management, such as the oven, as well as a double latrine, which characterizes it as a place where an intense work was carried out.
Both houses are separated by an intermediate room, where they placed a storehouse (to keep the products cooked in the oven of the eastern house) and an opposite bathroom to maintain the hygiene of the staff of the house of the servants. This separation was kept to fulfill the Muslim legal regulation, which indicated that the ovens could not be located near the houses to avoid obvious smells and smokes that could be annoying for the residents.
In the south of these houses, as we already mentioned, there are two of the most important residences excavated so far in the palatial city of Medina Azahara, which we will comment next independently: the eastern house is the one known as "House of Ya´far", whereas the western one is called "House of the Pool", residences which shared a bathroom mainly used by the residents of both buildings.
If you are wondering what to visit in Córdoba, a good option would be the archaeological site of Medina Azahara choosing one of our guided tours. We will explain there a special chapter dedicated to the Houses of the Servants. Choosing to do high quality sightseeing is choosing ArtenCórdoba.
Text: Jesús Pijuán.