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




Mamluk rulers of Egypt from AD 1382-1517 who originated in an area of modern southwest Russia called Circassia in former times


Arabic for "son of"

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Bulaq and Other Important Ports in Islamic Egypt
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Bulaq, one of Cairo's most important ports, became a major center for shipbuilding in the mid-eighth century AH (mid-fourteenth century AD) according to the historical sources of the time. For example, in al-Suyuti's account of the year AH 757 (AD 1356), a severe storm resulted in the sinking of about 300 of the ships docked at Bulaq.

Shipbuilding witnessed huge growth in Bulaq in the Circassian Mamluk period. According to the historian Ibn Iyas, Sultan Qansuh Al-Ghawri's visit to Tura to inspect a huge ship built in Bulaq was a major event and celebration. The arsenal of Bulaq continued to thrive even after the demise of the Mamluk Empire.

When one of the Ottomon sultans, wishing to conquer the Island of Rhodes, needed ships and soldiers, his wali or governor came to Egypt and raided the ports of Bulaq and Al-Fustat for ships, abducting sailors and farmers.

By virtue of their location on the Nile, Rosetta and Damietta also became important commercial centers that probably also had shipbuilding arsenals.

The city of Tanis, located in the north on the shores of the Manzalah Lake that was connected to the Mediterranean, also had its own fleet of ships.

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Sultan Qansua Al-Ghawri
Sultan Qansua Al-Ghawri

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