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Egypt, later Syria and Seljuk and Ottoman Turkey

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Chapter Summary

The cities of earlier Islam were enthusiastic consumers of marble, re-used in a restricted quantity of surviving buildings. During the building processes in the new Cairo, the ancient remains of Alexandria and parts of North Africa were plundered. Western travellers were fascinated by the Ottoman Empire (including of course Egypt), and their accounts contain valuable details about the re-use of the past in various ways. The Seljuks of Turkey had great admiration for classical antiquities, and used earlier sculpture and bas-reliefs in their civic buildings. Mamluk Cairo offers a wide range of high-quality buildings rich in old marble and granite?the greatest mediaeval Islamic cityscape anywhere. Ottoman Istanbul represents a different approach to marble. Even if some of the best pieces were removed when they took over Cairo (such as from the Mosque of Al-Nasir in the Citadel), Istanbul rarely displays the colourfully festive kaleidoscope of later Mamluk Syria or Egypt.

Keywords: civic buildings; earlier Islam; Egypt; Mamluk Cairo; Mamluk Syria; marble; Ottoman Empire; Seljuks; Turkey



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