Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Short Story: A Cosmopolitan City: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Old Cairo

How did modern Cairo come to be?  Unlike many cities in Egypt which originated during ancient Pharaonic or Greco-Roman times, Cairo is a relatively young city.  The first permanent urban settlement began only in AD 641 but it grew quickly into a sprawling capital city.  This exhibit highlights the diversity of people who were the first to make Old Cairo their home. 

In the exhibit, visitors will explore how Old Cairo’s communities lived together and melded their traditions to create an ever-growing, multi-cultural society during the 7th to 12th centuries AD.   

Although the city was governed by Muslim Arabs, its neighborhoods were populated by people from a patchwork of religious and ethnic communities, including native Egyptians and many immigrants.  The exhibit puts a special focus on the three main religious communities - Muslims, Christians, and Jews – whose members helped shape Old Cairo’s neighborhoods, markets, and public places.

Each of Old Cairo’s communities will be brought to life through documents that highlight the words and thoughts of individuals, including letters from the Genizah (a deposit of Jewish manuscripts preserved for centuries in a synagogue), early Islamic administrative records, and illuminated manuscripts.  The exhibit will also use audio recordings to highlight the human voices that created these written words.

Another theme within the exhibit is the exploration of how Old Cairo’s communities interacted while living in close urban quarters.  Archaeological artifacts such as textiles, pottery, games, and toys show how the boundaries between communities could be blurred.

Old Cairo’s residents often lived similarly across the city and shared many daily activities, traditions, and aspirations.  The archaeological artifacts in the exhibit commemorate 50 years since rescue excavations were conducted at Old Cairo by George Scanlon in collaboration with the American Research Center in Egypt in 1964.  This is the first time that many of these objects have been be displayed.

For Official The Oriental Institute Website  Click Here  
     Explore Old Cairo with Egitalloyd Travel    

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