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Ships, Ports, and Shipbuilding
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Shipbuilding and Trade in the Islamic Period

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Glossary

Byzantine Period

The Byzantine Period is the era of Egyptian history that is bracketed by the death of Emperor Constantine the Great in AD 337 and the Arabic Conquest in AD 641. The name Byzantine comes from Byzantium, which was the ancient city on the site of Constantine's new capital, Constantinople (modern Istanbul).

caliph

a successor of the Prophet Muhammad and head of the Islamic community; traditionally always male

Fatimid

Islamic Shi'ite dynasty that ruled Egypt AD 969-1171

Hijra

Emigration of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina in AD 622.

Ibn

Arabic for "son of"

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The Port of Alexandria in the Islamic Period
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Documents indicate that arsenals were built in Alexandria and Al-Qulzum, or Suez, as early as the first century after Hijra (seventh century AD).

Alexandria of the Byzantine period was a major market and one of the Mediterranean's most busy ports. It continued to have a flourishing shipbuilding industry well into the first century Hijri (seventh century AD) as the Arabs used it as a point of departure for the fleets headed to invade Byzantine lands.

Travelers and geographers from this time praised the base of Alexandria and its position as a major center for the activities of the Arab naval fleet. They also described its famous lighthouse in detail and their accounts show that it was still standing until the year 442 after Hijra (AD 1050), during the reign of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mustansir. The lighthouse seemed to no longer be in existence during the reign of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim Bi Amr Allah, because he refused an offer to have it rebuilt.

The traveler Ibn Battuta tells us that during his visit to Egypt in 750 after Hijra (AD 1349), he learned that Sultan Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un had started to build a new lighthouse on the model of the old several years earlier. This means that Sultan al-Nasir may have built a new lighthouse called Burj Al-Silsila opposite the site of the old one. The old lighthouse was completely destroyed by the reign of Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay, who built his fort on its foundations.

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Culture:

Islamic
Topics Topics

Topics:

Commerce and Trade
Sites & Museums Sites & Museums
Connections Connections
Alexandria
Alexandria

The Caliph Al-Hakim Abu Ali Mansur
The Caliph Al-Hakim Abu Ali Mansur

Sultan Al-Ashraf Abu Al-Nasr Qaitbay
Sultan Al-Ashraf Abu Al-Nasr Qaitbay

Sultan Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un(Al-Nāşir Muhammad Ibn Qalāqūn)
Sultan Al-Nasir Mohammad Ibn Qala'un(Al-Nāşir Muhammad Ibn Qalāqūn)

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