(by James A. Harrell)
city of Cairo in Egypt boasts more surviving medieval Islamic monuments than any
other city in the Mediterranean region. Of interest in this study are those
monuments that pre-date the Ottoman or Turkish period which began in 1517 AD.
Many of these buildings were originally richly decorated with ornamental stones.
Initially these were used only for columns (from the 9th century AD
onward) but beginning in the mid-13th century AD ornamental stones
were also employed for interior wall veneers and pavements. This decoration
survives today, to various degrees, in about 65 mosques and other Islamic
monuments in Cairo. Of these, six stand out as having a large variety of
abundant and well-preserved ornamental stones and being easily accessible. These
are the mosque-madrasa-mausoleum of Sultan al-Mansur Qalawan (1284-5 AD, #43 in
Table 3), the mosque-mausoleum of Aqsurqur (1346-7 AD, #123), the
madrasa-khanqah-mausoleum of Sultan al-Zahir Barquq (1384-6 AD, #187), the
madrasa-mausoleum of Sultan al-Ashraf Barsbay (1425 AD, #175), the mosque-madrasa-mausoleum
of Sultan Hasan (1356-63 AD, #133), and the mosque-mausoleum of Sultan al-Muayyad
Shaykh (1415-22 AD, #190). The last two of these buildings are the most notable.
varieties, uses and sources of ornamental stones in Cairo's Islamic monuments
have not been previously investigated. The purpose of this survey was,
therefore, to conduct a comprehensive investigation of these stones. To this
end, fieldwork was conducted in Cairo during the summers of 1996, 1997, 1998,
1999 and 2000.
Provided below are my field notes on (1) the stone varieties present in Cairo, and (2) descriptions of the stones present in the surveyed buildings. Also, provided is a pre-print of a paper on the reuse of Roman stones in Cairo's buildings.
DESCRIPTION OF STONE VARIETIES FOUND IN CAIRO -- Field Notes
Stones of Unknown or Uncertain Provenance
Part 2: List of Stones Mentioned in the Notes
INVENTORY OF STONES IN CAIRO BUILDINGS -- Field Notes
Part 1: Miscellaneous Notes
Pre-Fatimid Period (before 969 AD)
Fatimid Period (969-1170 AD)
Ayyubid Period (1171-1250 AD)
Part 2: Bahri Mamluk Period (1251-1381 AD)
Part 3: Burgi or Circassian Mamluk Period (1382-1516 AD)
Part 4: Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Periods (after 1516 AD), and Miscellaneous
Part 5: List of Buildings Mentioned in the Notes
Map Grid for Building Locations (high resolution or low resolution)
REUSE OF ROMAN STONES IN CAIRO BUILDINGS -- Published Paper
Harrell, J.A., L. Lazzarini and M. Bruno, 2002, Reuse of Roman ornamental stones in medieval Cairo, Egypt: in L. Lazzarini (ed.), ASMOSIA VI, Interdisciplinary Studies on Ancient Stone – Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference of the Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity, Venice, June 15-18, 2000; Aldo Ausilio - Bottega d'Erasmo Editore (Padova), p. 89-96.
Text Table 1 Table 2 Table 3
For images of some of the Islamic buildings in Cairo and their stone ornamentation visit the web site of Dr. Prof. Michael Greenhalgh (Australian National University) at http://rubens.anu.edu.au/cairo/.
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