Scenes from the Middle East

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    An Egyptian Temple By the River Nile (Philae)

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    Brick Pyramids of Dashour, Egypt.

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    Caubul, from a Burying Ground on the Mountain Ridge, North-East of the city.

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    The Well of En-Rogel, Jerusalem

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    Artillery Barracks, Tophana

This collection of 114 images from three books provides a view of life in the Middle East during the nineteenth century through colored and tinted sketches of the people and places of Afghanistan, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. The digital collection also includes pages of printed text highlighting descriptive passages about these areas.

Of great artistic and historical interest, these illustrations have been culled from three rare books held by the University of Houston Libraries’ Special Collections: Sketches in Afghaunistan (1842), by James Atkinson; Lewis's Illustrations of Constantinople (approximately 1837), by John Frederick Lewis; and Sinai and Jerusalem; or, Scenes from Bible Lands (1870), by F.W. Holland.

During this time period, Afghanistan found itself in the middle of the British-Russian conflict known as the “Great Game,” and James Atkinson’s sketches depict troop movements and scenes of conflict amid the country’s rugged landscape.

The drawings by Royal Academy of Arts Associate John Frederick Lewis and the colorful illustrations by F.W. Holland capture a time when Constantinople and Jerusalem were part of the declining Ottoman Empire. The works offer a glimpse into the everyday lives of residents, as well as the regions’ natural beauty, ancient ruins, mosques, and other buildings.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections.

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