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Middle East Photograph Archive

"... Most of the photographs in the Middle East Department''s archive date to the second half of the nineteenth century. The vast majority of these are albumen-based photographs (the principal technique used during these years), supplemented by a few gelatin-based photographs (the precursor of the modern technique), and a few photochrome prints (early twentieth century dyed prints, producing a "color" photographic image). The archive is particularly strong in photographs of nineteenth century Cairo. To be sure, Europeans were attracted to Egypt by its Pharaonic monuments. Once there, however, visitors came to appreciate Cairo as the largest and best-preserved medieval metropolis in the world. The scores of Islamic monuments built between the ninth and fifteenth centuries in and around Cairo provided a huge number of subjects for photography. The collection includes photographs of the Mosque of ''Amr ibn al-''As, the Muslim general who conquered Egypt in the seventh century, and the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, who ruled Egypt in the ninth century, which show the condition of these landmark monuments in the 1880''s prior to their restoration in this century. Other invaluable photographs in the archive record the tombs of the Mamluk sultans in conditions approximating their original late medieval contexts. Built on the desert outskirts of medieval Cairo, these buildings are now tightly enclosed by the city''s modern urban sprawl, confining exterior view of these masterpieces of Islamic architecture. In addition, photographs of non-architectural subjects show the variety of traditional Middle Eastern and scenes of nineteenth century daily life in urban and rural situations."

Author(s):  University of Chicago Libraries, Middle East Collection
Format:  Website
Publisher:  University of Chicago