Report from the Field | Ahmed Abdelazim’s Fieldwork on Egypt’s Dead Cities

Ph.D. Candidate Ahmed Abdelazim shares a report from his ongoing dissertation fieldwork on cities in Egypt. In this report, he provides insight into cities that once bustled with life and are now dead.“Dead Cities have been one of the most inspiring sites of contemplation. Everything looks absurd as if the clock stopped so I could roam surreptitiously in these empty streets. The walls, the names, the furniture of the house, how many stories have not been told… How did life fade out of these cities? I wonder about the last day. Was it a happy moment? Or a rushed one in the hope of a return that never came.The above pictures are for Al-Qasr (Palace) city, located in the farthest point at Egypt’s western desert. No planes, no trains, only an 11-hour bus journey. The first human occupation to this spot dates back to the first century Hijri / seventh century AD, but it did not turn into a full city until the 12th century AD, thanks to trade routes. The population began to decline gradually at the beginning of the twentieth century as youth started to leave in search of better work opportunities.”Follow Ahmed for more reflections on art, architecture, and everyday society in the Arab World through his Instagram account @ahmed.hamdy.abdelazim