Although Qasr Amra reminds some of an outpost on the mythical Tattaouine, this 8th century "palace" located in Jordan will no doubt be familiar to Classicists. This vestige of a once larger complex retains and adapts Roman bath construction, and employs something much more interesting: figural representation.
At Qasr Amra (sometimes transliterated to Qusair Amra) trusty suspensurae are employed to heat the caldarium, or hot room, a concept familiar to Roman architecture. There is even an interesting reinvention of the apodyterium, or changing room. Islamic art historian Oleg Grabar, describes the 8th century development of the apodyterium as a "pre-modern ballroom in a rich residence . . . serving at the same time for pleasure and symbol of social status."
For most who understand Islamic Art as a genre devoid of icons this building is a surprise. The bath house is filled with figural representations which draw on established themes of astronomy, princely pleasures, animals, dancing girls, and even Greco-Roman mythology. The Ummayyad Caliph Walid the I or possibly the loathed Walid b. Yazid surely would have enjoyed a restful retreat at this pleasure palace.
For more on Qasr Amra visit its official UNESCO site: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/327 or pick up Richard Ettinghausen and Oleg Grabar's The Art and and Architecture of Islam (quoted above), a perfect introduction to the art of Islamic lands.