A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cairo History Series: Atlas of the History of Cairo

Here's an Ahram Online English post about cartographer Ahmad Kamal and his Atlas Tarikh al-Qahira, or Atlas of the History of Cairo, a work I sadly have not yet seen. (Anybody looking for a reviewer?) I like the article's subhead: "Have you ever spent any time reading El-Maqrizi, Ibn Iyas or Ibn Taghri Birdi, completely losing your bearing in the Cairo of the tenth or thirteenth centuries?" Why yes, quite often in fact (and Ibn Abd al-Hakam, Ibn Duqmaq, and Qalqashandi as well.) In fact, my recently inaugurated Cairo History Series, which I started just recently, will include extensive discussions of the wonderful descriptions the Mamluk historians have left us of the medieval city. (And later this month I'll be taking a week's vacation and you're going to get a week's worth of pre-written historical posts.)

There are one or two detailed descriptions of medieval Baghdad under the Abbasids, but the Mongols didn't leave much above ground. There are half a dozen wonderful descriptions of medieval Cairo, some street by street, mosque by mosque; that's a lot easier to follow.

Read this for now and know I'll have more to say on the subject.

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