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Title: Fustat reconsidered : urban housing and domestic life in a medieval Islamic city
Author: Harrison, Matthew
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2016
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The domestic architecture of Fustat, Egypt’s first capital under Muslim rule, has been revealed through various large-scale archaeological excavations over the preceding century. The archaeological remains represent an exceptional resource for understanding urbanism and daily life in one of the foremost cities of the early Islamic world. This thesis explores the potential use and meaning of domestic space in the excavated houses of Fustat. An assessment of previous scholarship on the houses reveals that their form has principally been understood as a style of architecture imported to Egypt by foreign élites. While certain assumptions about life in the houses have been made based on generalised notions of the traditional ‘Arab house’, there has been little critical consideration of the activities and agency of inhabitants by archaeologists. This study therefore aims to re-interpret the architecture in terms of how inhabitants conceptualised and used the space. Fustat represents a highly problematic dataset due the circumstances of its excavation and recording, its vast size and longevity, and the extensive modern depredation of the archaeological remains. Thus, the potential of a range of archaeological approaches to the social interpretation of architectural space is assessed, considering the limitations of the available data. The analytical approach taken consists of exploratory spatial analysis of archaeological features across two of the excavated areas. These spatial patterns are considered in light of the evidence for daily life and domestic architecture from the Cairo Geniza, the collection of documents from the city’s medieval Jewish community.
Supervisor: Gascoigne, Alison ; Earl, Graeme Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available