The posts from 20-28 March 2014 were originally posts formatted for Tumblr. Click here to see the original blog.
Water is power in this part of the world. Our walking tour of Mamluk and Ottoman architecture in Jerusalem brought this home. Dr Nazmi Jubeh reckoned that before Roman times the city only had capacity to provide water for about 1000 residents. The Romans introduced a system of cisterns and the Ottomans brought clay pipes. Dr Jubeh is pictured above in front of one of six water fountains for drinking and ablutions installed by the Sultans. At face height there is an Arabic inscription in huge letters reminding whoever should use the fountain that it was “Sultan the Great, King three times over” (… and many more titles) who had it installed.
This raises an interesting question about philanthropy. Islamic Ottoman Sultans and Mamluks (white slaves made good from an Islamic world) built many of Jerusalem’s public buildings through to the seventeenth century. They may have borrowed some power from this but never lorded it over a city they sought to contribute to. It makes me ask whether Jews and Christians did the same. I am not yet sure of the answer. (Pic copyright © Tim Stratford 2014)