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Ottoman Jerusalem – The Living City: 1517-1917

Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 29.08.2006:

Edited by Sylvia Auld and Robert Hillenbrand

Altajir World of Islam Trust, London, 2000, 1168 pages

This is not a book to be thrown into one’s backpack for reading while sun-tanning on the beach or lazying on the lawn in the garden. This is a serious publication that is too heavy to be carried around. The two-part tome makes for an invaluable reference book on Jerusalem, its history and architecture during the Ottoman rule of Palestine between 1517 and 1917. It follows on the heels of an earlier publication, Mamluk Jerusalem (The World of Islam Festival Trust, 1987).

Ottoman Jerusalem is an extensive and detailed work that presents a wide-ranging study of many facets of the Ottoman City. A wealth of socio-historical research is combined with an important architectural survey deriving from Dr. Yusuf Natsheh’s doctoral thesis, which was sponsored by the Altajir World of Islam Trust. This book is the fruit of many years of collaboration between the Administration of Auqaf and Islamic Affairs, Jerusalem, the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, and the World of Islam Festival Trust and Altajir World of Islam Trust. The book, with the documents it contains, is the best possible demonstration of the Arab and Islamic nature of the city of Jerusalem. It illustrates and authenticates the contribution made by Arabs and Muslims to the city’s architectural texture and cultural development.

A group of specialists and scholars from a number of countries was brought together to undertake research into and study this period in the history of the city of Jerusalem. The Palestinian contributors include Marwan Abu Khalaf and Mahmud Hawari of Al-Quds University; Mohammad ‘Alami and George Hintlian, historians; Mahmud Atallah from Al-Najah University; Khadr Salameh, the director of Al-Aqsa Library and Museum; and Vera Tamari of Birzeit University.

The book’s many chapters present the political history of Ottoman Jerusalem, the biographies of the leading intellectuals of late Ottoman Jerusalem and intellectual life during that period, its libraries, costume and songs, and the commercial life of the city. The major emphasis is on the architecture of Ottoman Jerusalem, with detailed descriptions on the city’s many landmarks. The book is richly documented by rare black and white photographs, in addition to newer ones in colour, that shed light on the city and its inhabitants during the late Ottoman period.

This unique volume will serve as a standard work on the four hundred years of this period of Jerusalem’s historic heritage.


This Week in Palestine

August 2006

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