National Geographic : 1972 May
the city's origins. There is a medieval Cairo, and a European Cairo, a Cairo of Arabian Nights ribaldry, and a Cairo of polo and silver-service teas. The city is a collage of influences brought to bear by a succession of foreign conquerors, but it is from the East that the dominant life-style is drawn. Astrologers Upstaged by a Raven Cairo as it exists today had its beginning in A.D. 969. On an August day of that year a con quering general named Jawhar, who soldiered for the Fatimid dynasty of Tunisia, had his troops rope off a site northeast of what was then the capital of Egypt, El Fustat. The ropes were strung in a square, about 1,200 yards on each side, and on them were attached many bells. At the auspicious moment when the planets were properly aligned in the sky, the bells would be rung as a signal for workmen to start turning the sod for this new seat of government and military power. Less than a mile to the west the Nile flowed past, running high, as the mother of Egypt began to nourish the delta with an embrace of silty flooding. Pressing down from the east were the Muqattam Hills, honey colored in the sunlight and rising high enough to look out on the Great Pyramids in the desert (map, page 647). Elsewhere there were many green Building blocks for health: Vitamin ampules, sealed with jets of flame, are checked by a laboratory technician. Until 1952 Egypt imported 90 percent of its pharmaceuticals; today a rapidly growing industry produces enough for home use and export. Fly-killing fog hangs over an open food market in Cairo's old quarter. Youngsters romp in the cloud of insecti cide. The city's plague of flies contrib utes to gastrointestinal infections, a leading cause of death.