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ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE IN CAIRO PDF

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PDF | The city of Cairo is serving as the capital of Egypt since it was preserved within the Islamic architecture of Cairo have been highlighted. PDF | This paper discusses the contribution by Italian architects to the revival of Islamic architecture, period in Rome, his study of Islamic architecture in Cairo. Cairo is an unequaled treasure house of Islamic architecture. Built over a span of a thousand years, Cairo's historic center contains the most concentrated, the.


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Link: PDF at cittadelmonte.info Stable link here: cittadelmonte.info webbin/book/lookupid?key=olbp Subject: Islamic architecture -- Egypt Studies and Sources on Islamic Art and Architecture: Supplements to Muqarnas Volume III. Doris Behrens-Abouseif's introduction to Cairo's Islamic. JSAH, L:4, DECEMBER for instance, did the potent concepts of the s cease to affect these architects from the s into the s? How can we.

Regional Surveys. Islam in Europe: A Tribute to Dr. Photographs of Yemen Sebastian Schutyser: Mali Sebastian Schutyser: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts,

Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, Ali Tayar: A Living History. Moroccan Folklore Muqarnas: Supplemental Media Sebastian Schutyser: Supplements to Muqarnas. Waugh Collection Details, Delight, and Documentation: Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Architecture, Interiors, Fine Arts Mimar: Architecture in Development Muqarnas: Egypt was a country riven with bitter ethnic, social, political and religious divisions.

On the religious front, Christians were at odds with Jews, and the Christian community was broadly divided between the Melkite and Coptic churches. More than anything else, it was religious conflict that helped the Arab cause, and this is why it is necessary to briefly explain its nature and background. The split between the two was essentially theo- logical, but in the course of time their differences became progress- ively politicized.

Such was the case in many other parts of the empire where Melkite orthodoxy was associated with imperial con- trol, and in response the heterodox Monophysite and Nestorian churches increasingly became a focus for regional dissent and inde- pendence. The Coptic church in particular became an arena for nationalist feeling, for the Copts had good reason to be proud of the leading role Egypt had played in shaping early Christianity.

Egypt was the spiritual birthplace of monasticism, and it was Alexandria, through the learning of its catechetical school, that introduced the tools of Greek philosophy into Christian theology. It was this philosophical climate that initiated the great Christological debates that dominated the ecumenical councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon. These councils, in which the Alexandrian clergy played a leading role, were set up to define and regulate doctrine. The issues debated concerned the nature of Christ, his relationship with the Father and whether he was begotten or unbegotten.

Disputation along these lines had already begun in Alexandria when the priest Arius put forward his doctrine that God was unbegotten, eternal and without beginning.

He reasoned that unlike the Father, the Son was begotten, born in time and therefore not of the same nature as the Father. This doc- trine was rejected at the ecumenical council of Nicaea , and it was the brilliant Alexandrian theologian Athanasius who defined the orthodox position and played a principal role in formulating the Nicene Creed. The Nicaean council ruled that Christ was begot- ten but of the same substance as the Father.

Arius was banished, but his doctrine endured and later attracted many supporters. The sec- ond ecumenical council of Constantinople also rejected Arianism, adding clauses to the creed defining the nature of the Holy Spirit. It also proclaimed the supremacy of the See of Rome over Constantinople.

This declaration, relegating Alexandria to third place in the church hierarchy, caused riots in the city and pre- cipitated the separation of the Egyptian church.

Despite attempts to impose Melkite orthodoxy from Constantinople, Arius still had followers, the Nestorian church went its separate way and Monophysitism prevailed in many parts of the empire.

In the face of these schisms, Heraclius tried to unite the churches with a doctrinal compromise known as the Monothelite doctrine. This proposed that Christ had two natures, human and divine, but one will and energy. It was accepted in some parts of the empire, but rejected in Egypt by both Copts and Melkites. Rather than persuading the Egyptians, Heraclius tried imposing the doc- trine on them through his newly appointed patriarch, Cyrus, who was given absolute power in the joint offices of Governor of Egypt and Imperial Patriarch of Alexandria.

The Copts refused to coun- tenance anything that threatened their independence and the Melkites rejected the doctrine as Monophysitism in another guise. Despite the resistance of both parties, it was the Copts who were singled out for special punishment and Cyrus unleashed a policy of brutal persecution that lasted for the best part of ten years.

The Coptic Patriarch Benjamin was driven into exile, church leaders were tortured and executed, and the Coptic communion was driven underground. By its very nature Egyptian society was complex, pluralist and cosmopolitan.

Since the foundation of the Ptolemaic dynasty in BC, the ethnic make-up of Egypt, and of Alexandria in particular, had been complex. During Ptolemaic times the ruling class was Greek and owned most of the land. The culture of the court was Greek, and it is significant that only the last monarch of that dynasty, Cleopatra VII, bothered to learn the Egyptian language. However, as R. Bagnall has poin- ted out, ethnicity was mutable, and the status of Hellene could also include those from an Egyptian background who rose to hold high office.

Under Byzantine rule the vast majority of Egyptians now mostly Copts also held little status and, as Butler has observed, Egypt was essen- tially a society ruled for the benefit of the rulers. Egypt had been a refuge for the Jews since the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and they formed significant colonies in Aswan, Memphis and Alexandria. Under Caesar Augustus the Alexandrian Jews were granted a degree of autonomy and privilege which caused much jealousy and hos- tility among the Greeks.

At the time of the Arab conquest the population of Jews in Alexandria numbered 70, One con- sequence of this was the union between the Coptic and Syrian churches, a union which strengthened Monophysite resistance to Byzantine rule.

There was, however, no unity in this diversity, and when the Arabs arrived in they found a society in which all the factions — rulers and ruled, Melkites and Monophysites, Christians and Jews — were at odds with each other.

He had distinguished himself as a soldier in the Syrian campaigns and his great ambition was to secure Egypt for Islam, thus gaining in the west what Khalid ibn al-Walid known as the Sword of Islam had achieved in Syria.

Amr put forward his invasion plans to the caliph Omar, arguing the necessity of striking Egypt in order to forestall a possible attack from that quarter by the former Byzantine governor of Jerusalem. This was quickly dispatched to the bor- der, but before entering Egypt Amr was intercepted by messengers who delivered a letter from the Caliph.

Sensing the import of its contents, Amr chose to ignore it until he reached al-Arish, just inside Egyptian territory. His intuitions were justified because the letter instructed him to return if his men were still in Palestine, but to proceed if he had reached Egypt. Following the coastal route, the Arabs took Pelusium and Bilbays, but rather than advance on Alexandria they turned south to capture the fortress of Babylon, which occupied a critical position at the apex of the Nile Delta.

Its strategic position was vital at this stage in the campaign, and because communications with Medina were Probable site of Roman Gateway good, Amr subsequently made it his mil- itary headquarters. More importantly, it was Church from this base, just outside the fortress of Babylon, that the city of Fustat and eventu- Church ally Cairo grew.

Babylon was situated on the east bank of the Nile opposite the island of Rawdah, and its site today encompasses Coptic Cairo in the heart of Misr al- Qadimah, the old city of Cairo. The fortress of Babylon. Persian settlers occupied the site, thus giving it the name of Babylon-in-Egypt. The northern tower is now incorp- orated into the monastery of St George. The south tower is a hollow cylinder, 34 metres in diameter, made of smooth cut stone at the base and alternating courses of rougher stone and flat brick above.

The tower contained an inner cylinder forming two concentric circles in the plan. The space between these cylinders was sectioned by radi- ating walls, like the spokes of a wheel, dividing the outer circle into eight rooms.

Kubiak has noted, this unique structure was most likely designed to withstand water pressure rather than siege engines. The south- ern gate, or Iron Gate, served as the main entrance and access to this was also by water. The remains of this gate can now be seen under the Church of the Virgin, or al-Muallaqa church, which is built over two of its south-western bastions.

Whether a town existed outside the fortress walls at the time of the Arab siege has been a matter of debate. Ancient sources give conflicting evidence, but more recently Kubiak has pointed to archaeological evidence suggesting traces of earlier perimeter walls enclosing a larger settlement. The fact that by Babylon had contracted to accommodate a smaller population indicates there was no significant population outside the walls except scattered monasteries and farmsteads.

When a force of 12, men eventually arrived, including some of the best commanders the Arabs could muster, he was in a position to take on the Byzantine forces deployed around the tip of the Delta. Now based in Heliopolis, Amr managed to draw the Byzantines into open battle, and in July he crushed their army by dividing his forces and attacking them from the front, flank and rear.

The remnants of the Byzantine army took refuge in Babylon and Amr set up his encampment on its northern side. Amr had the upper hand and presented Cyrus with three options: A treaty was drawn up and Cyrus returned to Constantinople to have it ratified, but Heraclius refused to accept it, regarding it as a treasonable sell-out.

Cyrus was then vilified and sent into exile. Before the matter could be resolved, Heraclius died, and the empire was thrown once more into chaos. In the absence of firm leadership from Constantinople, no resolution was possible and the truce at Babylon broke down. The besieged Byzantines were weakened by plague, and the death of Heraclius, coupled with bleak prospects of reinforcements, lowered their morale.

Eventually the Arabs scaled the walls and gained a foothold in the fortress, which quickly surren- dered. After seven months, the siege of Babylon ended on 9 April Amr then proceeded to complete his conquest of Egypt, and after sub- duing the Delta towns he set about besieging Alexandria. For an army with no equipment and little knowledge of siege warfare, the task of taking Alexandria was daunting. The city had formidable walls and was protected to the south by the canal and Lake Mareotis, and to the west by the Dragon Canal.

In addition, the Arabs had no naval power and little prospect of taking the city from the sea. On the face of it Alexandria was unassailable and could easily have withstood a long siege had it not been for the panic, turmoil and division within. The corruption, incompetence, religious dis- sension and political infighting that facilitated the Persian conquest in also served the Arabs in The Blue and Green factions named after chariot teams were responsible for rioting in the streets and intrigue followed intrigue.

Matters stabilized briefly when Cyrus eventually returned from exile and his presence raised morale. However, he still believed that it was necessary to come to terms with the Arabs and with this in mind he secretly left Alexandria and went to Babylon to negotiate a new treaty with Amr.

The Treaty of Alexandria was signed in November , and it effect- ively handed over the whole of Egypt to the Arabs. Among other things it agreed the payment of the poll tax, religious toleration for both Christians and Jews, protection of church property and a truce leading to the evacuation of the garrison at Alexandria over a period of eleven months.

It was also agreed that no Byzantine army would return to attack Egypt. The negotiations between Amr and Cyrus had been carried out in secret, but when the conditions of the treaty were revealed to the Alexandrians there was surprisingly little opposition. There was a sense of war-weary relief, and the guarantee of equality and religious freedom for the Jews and Christians of all denominations made it welcome in many quarters. The only losers were the army and the ruling classes who no longer had a stake in the country.

These joined a general exodus, but there was no difficulty in filling high administrative posts with Jews, Christians and converts to Islam. The Arabs were essentially a military class and they were totally dependent on Christian civil servants to maintain the machinery of government.

Domes in the Islamic Architecture of Cairo City: A Mathematical Approach | SpringerLink

Amr sought advice from the Coptic patriarch, Benjamin, on how best to raise revenue and it was on this issue that relations between Amr and Omar deteriorated. Omar complained that Egypt yielded too little tribute money, but Amr argued that excessive taxation was counterproductive. The burden of taxation increased and this prompted a number of leading Alexandrian citizens to appeal for intervention from Constantinople.

Seeing an opportunity of restor- ing Egypt to Byzantine rule, the emperor Constans immediately dispatched a huge fleet to Alexandria. The city was easily retaken and the Byzantine army, led by Manuel, penetrated the Delta, seiz- ing a number of towns.

The remnants of the defeated army took refuge in Alexandria, and Amr followed, positioning his army to the east of the city in anticipation of a long siege. However, with the help of inside intelligence his forces managed to penetrate the walls, and because the terms of the treaty had been breached the city was brutally sacked and its fortifications destroyed.

The political centre of Islam moved from Medina to Damascus, and Amr was reinstated as governor of Egypt where he ruled from the new cap- ital of Fustat until his death at the age of ninety-one in Suffice it to say that I have seized therein a city of 4, villas with 4, baths, 40, poll tax paying Jews and places of entertainment for royalty.

It was the jewel in the crown of conquest, and Amr, finding a number of deserted villas and palaces, was tempted to make it his seat of government. Omar, however, had different ideas, insisting that the capital of Egypt should be near Babylon where communications with Medina were more reliable. The Arabs had no navy and the city was virtually unprotected on the seaward side. Its orientation towards the Mediterranean was also symbolic of its cultural roots in the Graeco-Roman world. During the siege of Babylon they had been renowned for the austerity of their ways.

As in Syria, Bab al-Qantara of Ibn Palestine and Iraq, they found themselves ruling a society that was culturally far more duct Kh al Nil sophisticated than their own.

The site of al-Fustat. The new cap- ital situated next to Babylon was named Fustat, and it answered psychological as much as strategic needs.

Communications were good, and Omar, who kept a very tight reign on his armies and Amr , appreciated the fact that messages transmitted between Babylon and Medina took less than a week.

The plan and development of Fustat mirrors the pluralism of Arab society, which in many respects was more complex and diverse than that of Alexandria. To name but a few ethnic groups Al-Azd Rawdah and tribal quarters, some of the following Island are listed by Wladyslaw Kubiak: Similar allocations 0 metres were made during the founding of Baghdad 0 yards Birkat al-Habash just over a century later, but there compar- isons end.

Ethnic groups and multi-tribal quarters. No such symmetry pre- vailed at Fustat, which at first glance seemed totally fortuitous in its composition. Its organic nature reflected with accuracy the ethos and organization of a military encampment. It also carried with it some of the values and traditions of Bedouin life. Centrally grouped near the mosque were the tribes close to Amr, such as the Ahl ar Raya, a multi-tribal unit, reflecting its senior position at the centre of command.

Non-Arabs were generally se- gregated from Arabs. In total there were prob- ably between thirty and forty tribal units. The population increased through the high birth rate and the immigration of other groups from Arabia and Syria. Entire tribes, not involved in the original conquest, migrated from Arabia to Fustat. According to Kubiak, one consequence of the Arab conquests was the acquisition of considerable numbers of black and white slaves from Nubia and the Mediterranean.

In the course of time their population possibly equalled in number that of the Arab settlers. As in other parts of the empire, the role of the ruling military caste gradually diminished as the new order demanded the skills of clerks, administrators, bankers, merchants, artisans and those most able to contribute towards a peacetime economy.

The professions which the ruling elite had so far abjured were now in demand, and they needed the skills of the native Egyptians. As a consequence, the Coptic population was encour- aged to increase on the outskirts of the city, and they were allowed to build new churches.

The building activity of the Copts only highlighted the lack of such skills among the Arab population. The Arabs brought with them a sophisticated degree of military, political and mercantile acumen, but their artistic genius was confined mainly to oral poetry and not the visual arts.

They could spin, weave and produce simple pots and household items, but they lacked the skills for making luxury goods. According to Oleg Grabar, most luxury goods in Arabia were imported, and those which were not were made by non-Arabs, mostly Jews. Tempers became frayed and the Prophet was called in to arbitrate.

The Prophet then picked up the stone and placed it in its corner position. The kiswa, which is renewed annually, was traditionally woven in Egypt, although since the s it has been manufactured in Mecca. One tradition states that he ordered Amr to take action over the construction of the second storey of a house owned by Kharidja ibn Hudhafa. They were responsible for the two great masterpieces of early Islamic archi- tecture, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Great Mosque at Damascus Both these buildings were constructed by non-Arabs, and Copts were employed on a number of early Umayyad buildings including the Mosque of the Prophet at Medina, the palaces of Mshatta Jordan and Khirbet al-Mafjar Palestine and possibly the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Caliph al-Walid employed Copts to build the prayer hall of the Mosque of the Prophet at Medina —9 in which the oldest recorded mihrab appeared in the form of a semi-circular niche. The mihrab is the prayer niche from where the imam leads the prayer, and it holds an honorific function commemorating the place where the Prophet led the prayers. Whether the Copts had any influence on the design and installation of this mihrab is uncertain, but it raises the more general question of Coptic influence on the evolution of the mihrab in Islamic architecture.

This may account for the design of the mihrab in the Dome of the Rock, which possibly predates that of Medina. It is located in the cave below the sacred rock, and its design, consisting of a flat slab decorated with a lobed arch supported by two twisted columns, resembles a Coptic funerary stele.

They were a distinctive feature in Coptic churches, and prayer niches in monastery cells were common throughout the Middle East.

Semi-circular niches, however, are not unique to Coptic art. They can be seen in Graeco-Roman architec- ture containing the statues of the gods; and in synagogues, such as the one at Dura Europus in Syria, they housed the scrolls of the Torah. The origin and meaning of the mihrab is uncertain, but the evidence of pre-Islamic architecture suggests the widespread use of the niche as a receptacle for honouring, containing and signifying something sacred.

Its dimensions of 50 by 30 cubits would have housed a maximum of men and not 12,, which was the estimated size of the army at that time. It was a free-standing structure with mud-brick walls pierced by six entrances on three sides.

The qibla wall facing Mecca was solid and continuous with no mihrab niche, although according to the historian Qalqashandi d. Palm trunks supported a roof of split palm beams covered by mud daubed fronds. There was no minaret or courtyard sahn , and the floor was covered with pebbles.

These minarets were little more than towers raised slightly higher than the roof-line and they had external staircases. According to K. Creswell, this was the first recorded reference to the building of minarets, and they were probably modelled on the corner towers of the Roman temenos sacred enclosure which formed the exterior walls of the Great Mosque at Damascus.

The minbar is a stepped triangular pulpit from which the Friday sermon khutba is delivered. It was initially used only in congregational mosques where the khutba was delivered to the whole Muslim population at the Friday noon prayers.

Frequently the khutba had a strong political as well as religious message, and it was through the khutba that the legitimacy of a ruler was proclaimed. Abd Allah, who embraced Islam before his father, is venerated here, and his presence adds baraka blessing to the mosque. For these histor- ical reasons and associations, successive rulers have made it their religious duty to extend, embellish and restore the mosque. Alterations and enlargements were carried out in , in when the semi-circular mihrab was installed , and , but the main reconstruction, bringing the mosque to its present size, was carried out in the ninth century by Abd Allah ibn Tahir.

He was one of the greatest generals of his day as well as a learned and cultivated man who encouraged poetry. He governed Egypt for just two years before returning to his native Khurasan. Recent work on the south- western corner reveals bricked-up windows with semi-circular arches flanked at the top by shell niches with colonnettes. Also dating from are the deeply recessed windows with taller narrow niches on either side arranged along the exterior qibla wall.

Nothing of any note survives from the tenth century, but we know that the interior was lavishly decorated with gilding on the capitals and minbar, and the traveller Muqaddasi, who visited the mosque in , described the presence of glass mosaic on the walls. Today we can only gain some insight into the opulence and magnificence of early Islamic architecture by visiting the Dome of the Rock and the Great Mosques of Damascus and Cordoba.

During Fatimid times the mosaics were removed and in al- Hakim rebuilt the riwaqs so that the mosque had, according to the historian Ibn Duqmaq d. When Salah al-Din Saladin overthrew the Fatimid dynasty in the mosque was in a state of disrepair and it had suffered fire damage in the conflagration of Fustat in His repairs are recorded by the historian al-Maqrizi — , whose description is interesting as it reveals something of the various super- structures and human presence on the roof.

He restored the heart of the mosque, and the great mihrab and its marble. He inscribed his name on [the mihrab]. In the water tank of the hall of the khutba he placed a pipe to the roof-terrace. The people of the roof-terrace use it. He built a pavil- ion beneath the great minaret, and a water tank for it. On the northern side of the small house of Amr — running towards the west — [Salah al-Din] constructed another water pipe parallel to the roof-terrace, and a walkway allowing the people of the roof-terrace to use it.

He built a water clock and it was formulated precisely. Not long after this, earthquake damage in led to further repair work by the amir Salar. So far the record shows that the mosque had been in a con- stant state of becoming, reflecting to some extent the adaptable nature of early mosque architecture.

The enlargements of the Mosque of Amr. What the picture does show, however, is the warm polychromy of the nineteenth-century interior. Then, as today, ser- ried ranks of arches, joined by tie-beams, spring from tall impost blocks mounted on antique Corinthian columns. The arches have a slight horseshoe return, and the radiating voussoirs were painted in alternate colours of terracotta and cream. This warmth of colour was echoed in the subtle brown, brick and honey-coloured patterns of the floor.

The interior today is severely monochrome and it remains to be seen if the current restorations reclaim something of the subtle colour in the original flooring. Projecting at right angles from the south-west wall of the prayer hall are regularly spaced wall piers supported by antique columns.

Projecting out of the wall, and sandwiched between the capitals and the wall piers, are old wooden architraves. Previous photographs show that some of these displayed fragmentary stumps of tie-beams. These piers and tie-beams undoubtedly indicate the springing point of six arcades arranged parallel to the qibla wall.

The woodwork dates from and the scrollwork decoration is in the Hellenistic style. Similarly carved horizontal beams were also embedded in the brickwork and spanned the windows. Creswell compared this wood carving to the acanthus and vine-scroll decoration in the gilded architraves of the Dome of the Rock.

Both mosques use a decorative vocabulary which is clearly rooted in the Hellenistic world, and earlier evidence of this tradition can be seen in Byzantine architecture — for example in the stone friezes of a number of Syrian churches such as those of St Simeon Stylites — Mosque of Amr ibn al As: Decorated architrave the earliest examples of Islamic woodwork in Egypt and they dem- with stump of broken tie-beam.

It has to some extent been written off as a piecemeal accumulation of architectural elements dating mainly from the early nineteenth cen- tury. Art historical interest has been confined to retrieving its history through a complex architectural jigsaw puzzle. Its architectural merits have been overlooked in recent years because the current restoration work has made visual appraisal difficult.

To some extent judgement has been postponed. Nevertheless, at the time of writing much of the work is near completion, the scaffolding is mostly clear, and the restoration of the north-west riwaq is finished. There is now a greater degree of bal- ance and coherence in the plan, and those irregularities which give it life and character have been more readily absorbed into the whole. The interior has a spacious grandeur and a feeling of repose which the modest exterior ill prepares you for.

It is a building which combines breadth of scale with simplicity, and it deeply impresses — not so much by its formal beauty, but by its integrity.

This is partly explained by its structural honesty and unpretentiousness, but it also arises from a manifold of non-visual factors, such as the accretions of history, association, veneration, a lived-in atmosphere and workaday usage.

Islam has never separated religious and secular life, and the architecture of Islam reflects a state of continuum between these two domains. As we shall observe, all these religious and secular activities will find architectural expression in a variety of separate and combined forms.

Civil as well as religious matters were dealt with, and tribunals were held in the ziyada the enclosed space immediately surrounding the mosque.

The fountain and sahn in the Mosque the madrasa theological college , it was the main centre for education, of Amr ibn al-As. The district also included the harbour and became the commercial centre of the city with its huge markets. The area became increas- ingly cosmopolitan as foreigners settled and invested in both trade and property.

Interior, prayer hall of the Mosque of Amr around an inner courtyard. Some may even have had more than two storeys, reflecting the taller architectural traditions of southern Arabia. Recent archaeological evidence shows that other materials were also used, including stone and fired brick.

Marble columns were occasionally used, and there was one example of a house incorporating recycled columns from Alexandria. The larger houses and palaces had private mosques and their own wells and water supplies servicing bath-houses. One of the most imposing palaces was that of Dar al-Mudhahhaba, the so called Gilded House, because of its golden dome.

Besides houses, other public buildings included numerous baths and covered markets. The new regime of governors left Fustat and established a new centre of government in the suburb of al-Askar to the north-east. Here they established their military headquarters and for the first time built a palace complex as the offi- cial seat of government. They also built a palace known as the Dome of the Air on a spur of the Muqattam hills, the site now occupied by the Cairo Citadel.

The average tenure of the Abbasid governors was less than two years, and according to Lane-Poole there was a total of 67 of them in years. Most fief-holders were members of the Abbasid family or powerful Turkish com- manders. After , Turkish governors became the norm, and with the exception of the Arab Fatimid dynasty, throughout much of its history the dominant ruling class of Egypt has been Turkish.

Previously the Abbasids had relied on the support of Persian soldiers from Khurasan, and many of their most distinguished commanders, like Abd Allah ibn Tahir, came from that region.

These made up the bulk of the imperial bodyguard, which was the nearest thing to a regular army. The rest of the army consisted of Mudarite and Yemenite Arab volunteers taken from the north and south of Arabia, as well as other sundry Arab units. For these reasons the Abbasid caliphs relied increasingly on the loyalty of Turkish slave troops who gradually replaced the Persians as the imperial bodyguard.

Turkish slaves were recruited, not just for the armed forces, but for senior admin- istrative positions in the empire where loyalty was also a valued commodity.

He also changed the face of art and architecture in Egypt. He rose in rank and flourished in the court there, and the atmosphere and cul- tural environment of that city left an indelible mark on him. Samarra, situated 96 kilometres north of Baghdad, was the capital for just less than sixty years but it was here that Islamic architecture came of age. Renowned for its spiral minaret, the largest mosque in the Muslim world was built there by the caliph al-Mutawakkil in , and the city became famous for the number and extravagance of its palaces.

Little of this architectural splendour remains today; of the palaces, only a few fragments remain above ground, and all that is left of the great mosque is the spiral minaret and its exterior walls.

Samarra was also possibly a centre for the manufacture of lustre pottery and other luxuries. In , at the age of thirty-three, Ibn Tulun was appointed to govern Egypt as a deputy on behalf of his stepfather, Bayakbak. Initially his jurisdiction and powers were limited, and he had little control over finance and communications which were in the hands of his rival, al-Mudabbir. After four years, al-Mudabbir was transferred to Syria, and Ibn Tulun was free to extend and consolidate his power in Egypt, as well as to build up a formidable army of Turkish, Sudanese and Greek slave troops.

Under each of these fief-holders Ibn Tulun was confirmed and strengthened in his office. This division led to a power struggle between the two, and Ibn Tulun exploited the situation by withholding revenues to Baghdad, thus increasing the wealth, power and independence of Egypt. The lack of revenue from Egypt eventually prompted al-Muwaffaq to attempt to remove Ibn Tulun from office and he sent the imperial army against him.

Egypt had not just established her independence — she had annexed Abbasid territory. Here, at the foot of the present Citadel, under the Dome of the Air, he created a new urban development inspired by Samarra.

It covered over 1. The palace consisted of a number of buildings, including a separate harem, extensive gardens and a menagerie. The palace and hippodrome were jointly known as al-Maydan, and this formed the recreational centre of the city where military parades, horse races and polo matches were held. The Maydan was entered by several gates serving different classes of society with a triple gate, the Bab al-Maydan, reserved for the military.

The army would enter through its outer arches, leaving the central arch vacant for Ibn Tulun to ride through on horseback. Other gates were known as the Gate of the Nobles, the Gate of the Harem, the Gate of al-Darmun, the Sag Gate, and the Gate of the Lions, which was surmounted by a gallery and two stucco lions. The city also had a hospital, numer- ous markets and bathhouses serviced by the Aqueduct of Basatin which brought water from a spring in the southern desert.

The Nilometer is an Abbasid structure which was commissioned by the caliph al-Mutawakkil and built by Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Hasib in The Nilometer measured the height of the Nile waters during the annual inundation and its measure- ments were essential in determining irrigation policy.

The Nilometer.

Domes in the Islamic Architecture of Cairo City: A Mathematical Approach

Twenty-four steps lead down to a landing which faces four recessed arches. These pointed arches, framed with colonnettes, are identical in form to those used by Gothic architects three centuries later.

The whole unit is covered by a modern wooden dome. Domes in the Islamic Architecture of Cairo City: A Mathematical Approach.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. The American University in Cairo Press. Google Scholar. Farmington Hill. Development of Construction techniques in the Mamluks Domes of Cairo. Construction and Reconstruction. Delgado Cepeda, eds. Fucecchio Florence: Kim Williams Books.

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