Using the Database
You may search by the fields in Inscriptions or Monuments on the initial screen, but not both at the same time (use the button to select one or the other). Several fields are common to both, namely Patron and Hijri and Common Era date ranges; note that “Type” has different drop down lists. Given problems of transliteration, we decided that drop down list of patrons and monument names were preferable. We have tried to use the part of the name that will be most familiar to users; al-Salih Tala’i’, for instance, will be found only under S.
We wished in the original database to have the inscriptions listed as a subset of the official monument number. For instance, all the inscriptions under monument number 43, the Complex of Qalawun, start with 43 followed by a discrete inscription number. Because this is a number field, inscription 43.9 would be followed by 43.11, since 43.10 in the decimal system is the same as 43.1. For inscriptions from unidentified monuments, we arbitrarily started numbering them at 1000.1.
Inscription Text (Arabic)
If your operating system is Arabic enabled you can search in Arabic.
Now illegible inscriptions are signaled for several reasons: they are an indication of what may have been a typical location for an inscription, the text may be recovered through subsequent cleaning and restoration, or through better photography, or through discovery of older photographs of the inscription showing it when it was in a more legible state.
Inscription Text (English)
UK rather than American spelling is used, e.g. “armour” rather than “armor”.
Typing a letter will cause a list of patrons from all the possible entries to appear. We hope this will minimize problems of transliteration.
To ensure correct alphabetization in English, transliterations of patrons’ names in the list of patrons (but not in the translations of the Arabic text) omit the sign for ‘ayn at the beginning of the name of the patron. For example, Ali ibn Ahmad al-‘Arusi, not ‘Ali ibn Ahmad al-‘Arusi. Therefore ‘Abd Allah will come under A, before Ahmad. No distinction is made between ‘ayn, hamza, and the apostrophe.
The name Ottoman name Chalabi has been transliterated as Jalabi and Shurbaji/Churbaji as Jurbaji in the lists of patrons, in accordance with their spelling in the Arabic inscriptions.
For epitaphs, if the deceased is not the patron of the building and the date of death is different from the date of the building, then the patron assigned to the inscription is the name of the deceased, unless these is evidence to the contrary. While it cannot be assumed that the deceased was responsible for his or her tombstone, the inclusion of the name in the list of patrons should make searching easier.
: Datings are frequently attributions, based on stylistic criteria. In some broad date ranges, centuries are used in both Hijra and Common Era which do not overlap exactly, stressing the approximation of the dating. The date field permits the use of numbers only, so in order to increase the usefulness of searching by date, we have also, instead of putting c. 845, for instance, put a narrow date range e.g. 840-850 instead.
Monumental naskh and thuluth are not distinguished. Nasta‘liq is distinguished only in obvious cases.
Be aware that some inscriptions may combine several types, so not all examples will appear under a search for only one.
Monument Name and Patron
Typing a letter will cause a list of all the possible entries to appear. We hope this will minimize problems of transliteration.
Given the fluidity of the terms madrasa, mosque and khanqah in Mamluk examples, little attempt has been made to distinguish them; it might be well to search under all, or under complex, when seeking one of them.
this field refers to the catalog number in Michael Meinecke, Die mamlukische Architektur in Ägypten und Syrien (648/1250-912/1517), 2 vols. (Glückstadt, 1992). It was added for its usefulness, in particular for its bibliographic entries on the monument.
The search will bring up a number of results which can be sorted by Inscription Number or Monument Name.
Clicking on an Inscription Number in a search result brings you to a page with detailed information with three headings: Inscription, Monument and References. The page will open at the Inscription heading, with the text in English and Arabic (which can be printed separately). It also has thumbnails of photographs which can be clicked on for enlargements, and for printing. The photographs appear in the order in which they were taken which usually, but not always, follows the order of the inscription text. Not all of the photographs are of good quality, but given the experience of our amateur photographers in the field, were the best we could manage at the (pre-digital) time. Factors of time and cost did not permit a reshoot on many occasions. We have included some sub-standard photos on the grounds that they are better than none at all.
The Monument heading give details of the monument in which the inscription is located, and has thumbnails of drawings showing the location of the inscription on the monument. The drawings can be clicked on for enlargements, and for printing.
The References heading shows bibliographic references to previous publications. Under “volume,” for references to the Comité Bulletins, we have given the year, as the original publications did not include a volume number.
the abbreviations N, S, E, W stand for north, south, east and west respectively. To simplify matters we have taken the qibla in Cairo as E rather than southeast. Numbers between the brackets < > are footnotes from the callouts in the Arabic text.