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Photographer's Note

I could also have called this photo "In the city of the dead". This is from one of the two large old cemeteries in Cairo where thousands of poor people are living in or beside the mausoleums and crypts, or have built their homes on top of the graves. There is one such large cemetery not so far from the central parts of the city, another one further south, on the outskirts of old Cairo.

This photo is from the southern cemetery, in an area containing the tombs of the ancient rulers of the Mamluke dynasty (1250–1517). The Mamlukes were of a mixed Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish origin and ruled Egypt as a military dictatorship (already in those days!) before the Ottoman empire. They were the descendants of slave-owners and former slaves who had grown steadily more influential as soldiers until they were strong enough to take the political power.

I remember seeing this man with a donkey knocking on the door, so obviously people were living in this house which was probably built beside or above a crypt. Maybe the actual grave was in their sitting-room.

I didn't feel particularly unsafe in this rather slummy area or in the even worse northern City of the dead. I imagine that visitors today should be rather more careful.

Here is a larger version.

As a workshop I will show a photo taken just around the corner from here. Another workshop shows a street of Cairo somewhere closer to the centre of the city.

All these photos from 1983 were scanned from Kodachromes slides.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6361 W: 399 N: 12760] (61812)
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