Fortifications and the Synagogue: The Fortress of Babylon and the Ben Ezra Synagogue, Cairo

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The Ben Ezra Synagogue, in Cairo, is best known as the synogogue in which the 'Cairo Geniza' was found—an astonishingly rich store of ancient books, manuscripts, correspondences, and records dating back to the tenth century. Copiously illustrated with plans, engravings, and photographs, Fortifications and the Synagogue describes the recent restoration of this ancient synagogue, as well as the historical and archaeological research essential to its preservation and to an understanding of the religious communities ...

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Overview

The Ben Ezra Synagogue, in Cairo, is best known as the synogogue in which the 'Cairo Geniza' was found—an astonishingly rich store of ancient books, manuscripts, correspondences, and records dating back to the tenth century. Copiously illustrated with plans, engravings, and photographs, Fortifications and the Synagogue describes the recent restoration of this ancient synagogue, as well as the historical and archaeological research essential to its preservation and to an understanding of the religious communities that founded modern Cairo. The work is unprecedented in its comprehensive examination of the subject, presenting the first measured survey and photographic study of the fortress and synagogue, the first thorough study of the Geniza manuscripts, and a complete history of the synagogue from the Geniza period to the present.

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Editorial Reviews

Jewish Book World
Fortifications and the Synagogue is a book worth acquiring and reading and a significant contribution to the history of the Jews of Egypt.
George Cohen
Cairo's Ben Ezra Synagogue, for a millennium the site of Jewish worship, dates back to around 950, the probable date of its probable original foundations, though the present structure was rebuilt in 1892. The synagogue is best known for its Geniza, an archive that contained 200,000 fragments of vellum, parchment, and paper documents that form an important source for the medieval history of the Mediterranean. They constitute a collection of discarded religious and secular texts, including manuscript fragments of the Bible, the Talmud, and miscellaneous correspondence. The Fortress of Babylon (site of the synagogue), known today as Old Cairo, is still defined by its Roman walls and towers, though it is now partly buried or demolished. This opulent book, with 45 color and 160 black-and-white photographs and countless architectural drawings, is the story of the restoration of the synagogue from January 1988, to Aug_. 1991. The text, edited by Lambert, is written by a team of renowned archaeologists, architects, and historians and is unprecedented in its study of the subject.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780920785669
  • Publisher: Phyllis Lambert In Association With The
  • Publication date: 3/15/2001
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 10.50 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Phyllis Lambert is an internationally known architect and founder and director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 7
A Note to the Reader 11
Foreword: The Jewish, Christina, and Muslim Communities in Egypt 12
Introduction: Towards an Interfaith Centre: Archaeology, Preservation, and History 19
Pt. I Archaeological and Historical Topography 39
Portfolio 1 Archaeological Survey Drawings of the Fortress of Babylon 40
Ch. 1 The Roman Fortifications 49
Ch. 2 Archaeological Survey of the Ben Ezra Synagogue Site 65
Ch. 3 The Synagogue 79
Pt. II Restoration and Conservation of the Ben Ezra Synagogue 99
Ch. 4 The Ben Ezra Synagogue and the Ethics of Restoration and Conservation 101
Portfolio II Architectural Drawings of the Ben Ezra Synagogue Restored 112
Ch. 5 An Account of the Ben Ezra Synagogue Restoration Project, 1989-91 135
Portfolio III Photographs of the Ben Ezra Synagogue and Its Environment in Old Cairo 166
Pt. III The Synagogue and the Community 195
Ch. 6 Legend and Tradition at the Ben Ezra Synagogue 197
Ch. 7 The Medieval Period: The Tenth to Fourteenth Centuries 201
Ch. 8 The Mameluke and Ottoman Periods: The Fifteenth to Eighteenth Centuries 224
Ch. 9 The Modern Period: The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 229
Ch. 10 The Geniza and the Scholarly Community 237
App Descriptions of the Ben Ezra Synagogue from the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries 243
Notes 251
Bibliography 265
Index 271
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