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square  LIVING IN A CRISIS AREA:
THE PRESERVATION OF NABLUS' OLD CITY

Naseer Arafat

Introduction

This study deals with the restoration works of Old Nablus in three important periods of its history: the first was the period after the first Intifadah, when the Municipality of Nablus was the only association interested in repairing the Old City; the second period witnessed the collaboration of the Municipality, the Ministry of Public Works and the Civil Society of Nablus Governorate; the third period began with the return of a relative security and political stability. It may be considered as the best period regarding architectural interventions concerning the professional level in restoration, e.g. the restoration of Arafāt Soap Factory and the Great Salāhi Mosque.
It is also worth mentioning that in this period the interest of the people and their direct involvement, both financial and technical, was noticeable, especially in religious buildings such as mosques, in addition to their work in their own shops and houses. The restoration project carried out on the houses of the poor seems different from other projects in its nature, management style and participation. This is because the direct beneficiaries, i.e. the poor families, were personally involved in improving their traditional buildings.

 

1. Nablus Through the Centuries

Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately 63 kilometers (39 miles) north of Jerusalem, with a population of about 170,000 inhabitants [1] [Fig. 1]>. Located in a strategic position between Mount Eibal and Mount Garzim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center. Its history is not only that of a city, but also of the people who lived in and around it. It is a history that spans changes of belief, religion and customs, leaving behind a wealth of archaeological evidence that speaks to us even today.

Pottery dating back to the Bronze Age indicates that the Nablus area was first settled in the third millennium B.C., during the Canaanite period [2]
. The first people to inhabit the region, most likely coming from the Arabian Peninsula, were the Canaanite tribes of Al-Hawiyun and Al-Jarziyyun. They called the land Shechem, which means either “shoulder” or “highland”. The Canaanite city of Shechem, discovered by Hermann Thiersch in 1903, was situated in the eastern part of Nablus, known today as Balata Hill or Tal Balātah.

In 71 A.D. the Roman leader Vespasian ordered a new city to be built from the ruins of the city left by Hyrcanus Maccabaeus. Meant to house a Roman garrison, the new city was to be named Flavia Neapolis, from which the present name of the city was derived; Neapolis meaning New City and Flavia in honor of the emperor’s family[Fig. 2- Fig. 3].

Neapolis was built west of the original Canaanite city, in the present location of the Old City of Nablus. Historical sources indicate that there had been a Samaritan village on this spot, known variously as Ma’abartha, Mamortha, or Mabortha, i.e. “path” or “passage”. The name was possibly a distortion of mobarakta, an Aramaic word meaning “city of blessing”[3].

The Nablus region is actually characterized by many natural blessings, as described by the Russian visitor to Nablus, Al-Hajj Daniel, «There are plenty of different kinds of fruit trees, olive trees, types of wheat and the city lands are characterized generally by their beauty, and it produces oil, wine, wheat, a lot of fruit, and the city of Jerusalem imports the food that it needs from it»[4].

In 314 A.D., under the first Christian emperor, Constantine, a new See was created[5]. During Justinian’s rule (527-565 A.D.), five churches were built simultaneously. Some of them became mosques in the first Islamic era; others were destroyed by the earthquakes, which have periodically rocked the city, and no trace remains of them. Jacob’s Well is located in the eastern part of the city [Fig. 4]. There are various accounts of the origin of the church built on this site. One tradition says that it was built by St Helena, emperor Constantine’s mother, in 327 A.D. The historian Pringle argues that the church was originally built between 1132-1135 A.D., in the Crusader era, by Emmengrade of Brittany, and that it was rebuilt between 1169 and 1173 A.D.[6]. According to Father Ustenus Mamalus, the current priest of the church, only the foundations of the present building date back to the Crusader period, most of the church having been destroyed in 1572. Work on the present church was begun by Safreus in 1908 but was interrupted by the start of the First World War in 1914[7].

The church and the well are mentioned in al-Idrīsi’s book A Description of the Countries of Shām (Wasf Bilād ash-Shām) from 1154 A.D.: «It is a Samaritan City; in it is the well that was dug by Jacob “Peace be upon him”, and in it the Christ sat and asked the Samaritan woman to give him water to drink, and a good church was built upon it» [8]. Muslims also believe that this is the well Joseph “Peace be upon him” was thrown into by his brothers[9]. Modern-day Israeli settlers have tried to confiscate the church and its land. On the 29th of June 1979 an Israeli settler attempting to occupy the site for Jewish Orthodox groups killed the church’s priest, Father Felomenus Khasabes.

The city of Nablus witnessed the beginning of a period of security and stability after the Islamic conquest in 636 A.D., when the Muslims defeated the Byzantines in the battle of Ajnādīn. During this period, it formed part of the military region known as Liwa’ Jund Filastīn with al-Ramlah as its capital [10]. In the Umayyad period Nablus was linked administratively with Damascus, the Umayyad capital. The Abbasid dynasty took over rule of the city in 749, followed by the Fatimids in 968, then the Seljuks in 1076, until the Crusaders occupied it in 1099.

Meanwhile, Al-Maqdisi (d. 997 A.D.) writes in The Best Parts (Ahsan al-Taqāsīm ), «Nablus is in the mountains, has many olive trees, it is known as a smaller version of Damascus […] the mosque is in its centre, paved and clean, and it has a flowing river» [11].

The Crusaders occupied Jerusalem in the spring of 1099. On the 25th of July, the Crusaders entered Nablus peacefully after its people had surrendered [12].

Nablus was finally freed from the Crusaders by the victory of Salāh ad-Dīn al-Ayyūbi’s forces - led by his nephew Husām ad-Din Lajīn - in the battle of Hittīn in 1187, ushering in the Ayyūbid period. Salāh ad-Dīn himself visited Nablus in 1193 and the people of the city believe that Al-Hadrah Square, the minaret’s main square in the centre of the Old City, was named to commemorate the arrival of the Ayyūbid leader after the conquest [13]. After the Mamluks came to power in Egypt and established their rule there, ‘Izz ad-Dīn Aybak sent armies to Palestine under the leadership of Prince Faris ad-Dīn Aqtai. These armies conquered Gaza, the Palestinian coast and Nablus up to the ash-Sharī’a River [14]. Mamluk rule continued for nearly 256 years. Under their firm rule the city enjoyed a long period of security and stability. Scientific, intellectual and other aspects of life prospered and great architectural developments took place.

The famous Moroccan traveler Ibn Battūtah visited Nablus in 1355 and said, «Nablus city is a great city which has many trees, flowing rivers, many olives and a wonderfully luscious water melon which is ascribed to it. Al-Jāmi’ mosque is of extreme perfection and in the middle of it there is a fresh water pool» [15].

The Ottomans took over Nablus in 1521, depending initially on the local Mamluk governors. In this period, northern Palestine witnessed violent struggles between the city rulers and the feudal rulers in neighboring villages and regions. One such conflict occurred in 1772 when Zāhir al-’Umar tried to occupy Nablus but failed because the people resisted under Mustafā Bayk Tūqān’s leadership. As a result, Mustafa Bayk came to power, rising to the rank of pasha and becoming ruler of the provinces of Nablus, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Gaza and Ramleh [16]. During this time, the city also witnessed successive disasters in the form of famine, drought, and bloody power struggles between leading families. In 1840, Nablus returned to Ottoman rule and Sultan Abd al-Hamīd I came to power, followed by his son Abd al-Hamīd II who ruled from 1876 to 1909. In 1847 Nablus became a sunjuk [17] [Fig. 5].

The many historians and travelers who visited Nablus are an important source of descriptions of the city, its buildings and quarters, its traditions, customs and everyday life of the people. A Turkish traveler, Evliya Tshelibi [18], visited Nablus during his 1671 tour of Palestine. Many researchers depend on information taken from his travelogue: «It is a very beautiful city which is located between two mountains and it has a lot of gardens and orchards […] and all the government buildings and the large houses are characterized by having running water, a pool and fresh springs» [19].

The Sheikh Abd al-Ghani an-Nābulsi [20] described Nablus in 1689, saying, «Then we carried on walking until we reached the guarded city of Nablus. When we approached the blessed valley the breeze blew, and, coming close to the mill which is surrounded by water and orchards, a group of its people who were waiting gave us a warm welcome» [21]. Sheikh Mustafā al-Luqaymi also wrote about Nablus in 1730, saying, «It has plentiful water and springs, many fruits and shady boughs, and its people are kind and generous» [22].

 

2. First Period: After the First Intifadah (1994-1999). Beginning of Restoration Works in the Old City of Nablus

Last century’s political instability has deeply affected Nablus. The Israeli occupation, which started in 1967, had a strong impact on the city. The export of soap was banned and the local industry and economy broke down. During the first Intifadah (1987-1994), many people left their houses in the Old City; nonetheless, the historic fabric of the city survived and people have become more aware of its importance [23].

After the first Intifadah, Nablus Municipality started a number of restoration projects in the Old City. Works began in 1995 with the establishment of a Conservation department, specialized in restoration affairs and supervised by the engineering section and the Municipality board.

One of the projects concerned the restoration of the overhanging arches rising above the streets in the Old City, which are considered features of the city’s traditional architecture. The arches are formed by rooms straddling properties on either side of the streets. There are about 42 cross vaulted arches above the streets of the Old City. The Municipality was persuaded to restore them and allocated 100,000 Jordanian dinars for the first phase of the project.

Another project concerned the restoration of the Old City’s streets, paved with traditional stone tiles. The Japanese Government helped the Municipality of Nablus carry out repair work on the pavement and the side-walks through a project designed to create work opportunities.

Upon completion of the repair work in public areas, the Municipality of Nablus decided to cover the two main Old City thoroughfares with transparent fiberglass. The execution of the project depended on participation of the public sector, represented by the Municipality, and the private sector represented by the owners of commercial shops. The Municipality paid half of the expenses and the owners of the shops the other half.

This project was considered as a pioneering one since it depended only on local financing. Moreover, contributing to the expenses gave the beneficiaries a sense of ownership and responsibility for the project.

It is worth noticing that these projects led to the achievement of many important objectives:

- the creation of a sense of security and cleanliness in the Old City;

- the improvement of the drainage system thanks to the excavation works carried out in the streets;

- the creation of work opportunities for the unemployed. The main conditions of the grant were those of creating jobs and supporting the local economy; hence, the project did satisfy the first stage requirements as stone cutting, transforming and polishing were all done by local hands;

- the works of revival in the Old City, and this project in particular, naturally raised the residential and commercial property prices in the areas where the pavement was restored.

Despite these positive aspects, projects were faced with a number of challenges. One of these was the traffic control inside the Old City. The Municipality did not succeed in limiting access of vehicles, especially heavy ones, to the Old City. This caused a high proportion of the restored pavement tiles to be damaged.

As for the project of roofing the streets, it was carried out using modern structures and techniques, which appeared inconsistent with older construction principles. As a consequence, the original aesthetic appeal, which had been achieved using heterogeneous materials and traditional techniques, was lost. Moreover, the top apertures didn’t allow adequate airflow, especially in summer time; the poultry sellers’ complaints were a good indication of the poor ventilation in the main street. Also an unexpected problem arose, that of the excessive noise in large covered area, especially in the vegetables markets of the eastern quarter.

 

3. Second Period: Israeli Invasion of the City of Nablus

All the projects initiated after the First Intifadah were stopped when the Israeli army physically re-occupied the city in 2002. The city of Nablus faced several attacks, the first of which took place on April 3, 2002. The massive shelling of buildings lasted 15 days. Attacks on the Old City have continued for six years. Israeli forces have also employed explosives to destroy facades as well as walls between buildings, in order to create routes for the army straight through the Old City. In addition to the loss of lives, destructive acts led to the total demolition of about 100 houses, damage to a large number of historical buildings, shops, streets, water supply networks and electricity networks[Fig. 6 - Fig. 7]. Many heritage sites were wholly or partially destroyed, among them the Al-Khadra Mosque, that was originally a crusader church; the Shaikh Mosallam shrine, that is part of a crusader hospital in the northern part of the city; the Al-Shifa Turkish bath house; the historic Abdulhadi family mansion, which was partly utilized by a kindergarten and is a unique example of castle-like dwelling. The Greek-Orthodox Church was badly affected by the demolition of the soap factories in the western part of the city. The soap factories and adjacent houses were destroyed the night before the Israelis evacuated the Old City in April 2002.

In the beginning, the project of restoration of the city seemed unattainable. Activities concentrated on relief work and rebuilding of what had been demolished. However, as a result of the on-going works of restoration carried out by the Municipality and other institutions, citizens had become more aware of the importance of their cultural heritage and local traditions. They kept on living in their old houses, regardless of the extent of the damage they had suffered.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any attempt to raise the level of public awareness on the importance of restoration. Works were limited to building aspects only, with the exception of one project that aimed at making people aware of the importance of traditional techniques and materials.

The Municipality sponsored projects were meant to provide employment to the jobless. The focus was not on providing the workers with sustainable vocational skills. Had the workers acquired building skills or skills in refined traditional techniques, that would have helped them improve their standard of living later on. In fact, many restoration related trades were not utilized and so failed to turn into professions likely to enhance both the quality of the work and the working conditions in the future (e.g. building vaults in the roofs and lime whitewashing plastering, reconstruction, pointing of tiles).

Doors and windows and other building elements were replaced by modern and sometimes imported products, as happened with the traditional wooden windows, which were replaced by aluminum windows. Using traditional techniques would instead have helped not only in providing jobs for the unemployed but also in providing the local market with professions, which are at risk of extinction.

A new problem arose with the reuse of some building materials, such as stone. Instead of being allowed to repair or replace the crumbling lime plaster in the inner environment of houses with the same material, the tradesmen were required to use modern cement plastering materials, which were not compatible with the stonework. The resulting finishes were expensive, looked un-professional and were subject to deterioration.

The priority during that period was to provide aid and re-housing to those people whose shelters had been demolished. This need was so great that all attempts to impose scientific conservation took second place.

 

4. Third Period: Restoration Works of the Great Salāhi Mosque; Repair of the Houses of the Poor; Restoration Works of Arafāt Soap Factory

During the period of security and political stability in the city several projects had been completed. They included the center for revival and development of the Palestinian Cultural Heritage in the Arafāt Soap Factory and the Great Mosque. These projects were carried out to a standard close to the required professional level. This was achieved by using suitable building materials and trained builders. The workers acquired vocational skills and a high level of professionalism that could possibly be of use in the future.

 

Restoration Works of the Great Salāhi Mosque

The Great Salāhi Mosque lies in the eastern end of the Old City of Nablus; it is considered one of the most important historical mosques of the city. Its original layout is rectangular, with the inner praying hall consisting of three porticos extending in the east-west direction. In the eastern part of this hall, there are 14 square pillars, two pillars with two pairs of circular columns. The western part rests on 8 cylindrical columns crowned with decorated capitals, and on two pillars each consisting of two pairs of circular columns. Access to this hall is through a large main entrance in the eastern side. There are two other entrances both in the northern side; one is located at the western end of that side and the other in the middle. The ceiling of the praying hall consists of seven vaults in the eastern side and six lower vaults in the western side.

There are also two open courtyards, one near the eastern entrance, and the other in the northwestern end of the praying hall. Near this courtyard there is a room, with a water fountain in front, which has metal tabs drawing water from the nearby Al-kaas water fountain. The octagon-shaped minaret of the mosque is situated above the entrance in the middle of the northern front, with a balcony supported by beautiful chevron moldings (muqarnasaat).

Many attempts at restoration (by non-professionals) have taken place through the history of the Mosque. Comprehensive restoration of the Great Mosque began in 2010.

The original proposal put forward by the Municipality of Nablus was to carpet the Mosque. The idea was later extended to include cleaning of the ceiling and walls. This required fixing the recess of the mihrab niche which necessitated removal of some paint layers from the recess and finally the total restoration of the mosque [Figgs. 8  - 9  - 10 - 11- 12 - 13 - 14].

The restoration works uncovered two marble columns beneath one of the external courtyards, which indicates that the area of the Mosque was greater than the present one. A marble column was uncovered inside one of the square supports in the eastern part of the Mosque. The original entrance of the pre-existing church was also uncovered in the western front of the Mosque. The stones forming the square support in the middle of the mosque all bore various symbols each representing the signature of the worker who engraved the stones during the crusaders period.

The most important discovery is related to the niche area. The foundation layer of the Great Mosque is more than 3 meters below the level of the road to the south of the Mosque. This means that the niche of the present Mosque lies beneath the southern road. When the workers removed the stones from above the niche, the niche was shown to be a part of a large gate. The stones with which the niche was built are relatively recent compared with those of the large gate.

It was thus shown that the southern road was the same level of the original foundation of the Mosque. However, the accumulation of rubble due to continuous earthquakes, that struck the city over the past centuries, raised the original level of the road to the point where passers-by are able to see the worshippers through the Mosque’s high windows.

A new theory was formed regarding the Roman design of the city based on this piece of information and the Roman mosaic map in the church of Madaba. A straight line could be drawn connecting the large gate of the Mosque in the left front (the site of the current niche) to the gate of the Roman amphitheatre in the area of Kshaika street outside the walls of the Old City. The hypothesis is that there might have been an old road connecting the Roman amphitheatre and the Mosque which was originally a Roman temple. This matches the Roman city planning principle with two intersecting streets cardo and decumanus around which the Roman city spreads. Through restoration the marble columns were installed in their original place in the outside courtyard, and thus the southern entrance was restored as it was designed for the Roman temple.

This restoration project was particularly important because the Great Mosque had not been restored for many centuries. It also helped preserve its archeological value, while at the same time solving problems of humidity and decay of stones that were affecting the worshippers.

The process of restoration included also removing several layers of paint from the marble columns. The most important accomplishment was, perhaps, the removal of the inner and outer kuhlah, pointing between stones of the building. For that purpose, the Municipality of Nablus donated about 16,000 dollars.

The enthusiastic participation of the local Muslim community, through their generous donations, was the main driver for the restoration of the Mosque. The restoration costs (140,000 $) were entirely covered by the citizens, establishments and visitors to Nablus. The restoration works lasted nine months [Fig. 15].

 

Repair of the Houses of the Poor

This project came about because the various entities dealing with restoration works generally disregard the needs of the poor. In some cases the living conditions and the health of the affected families were made worse. The project came into existence to assist the beneficiaries not only in improving their living conditions but also in protecting them from diseases.

Sewage draining and humidity are the main problems facing the houses of the poor. The project’s three main goals were: make the houses safer; remove humidity and store rain water; improve the main health conditions in the kitchen, the bathroom and the toilet with better water drainage.

The priorities included many criteria and rules. In the selection of the recipients’ households, an elaborate evaluation methodology was adopted, which included a survey of the welfare situation of the prospective recipients, field visits, and a one to one evaluation to determine the state of the building. Finally an engineering evaluation was developed, containing a statement of work to be carried out.

Priority was given to families who had lost their breadwinner or whose breadwinners or sons were detained in the occupation prisons. The project was especially focused on families mostly composed of children or the aged. It also focused on families whose members were ill or disabled. Special preference was given to buildings that ran the risk of demolition during the Israeli invasion and whose owner was deemed in need.

Although the work was to be performed by the beneficiaries themselves, its scope and complexity required it to be carried out in different stages. Initial payments were paid by cheque to the beneficiaries. The owner of the house started working upon receipt of this first installment. The next installment was disbursed only after a site inspection to determine the progress of the project; the third installment was paid on successful completion of the work.

The project took the limited financial resources of the people into account. It also encouraged contributions from the well-to-do relatives of the beneficiaries. There was a praiseworthy case when one rich man granted a house to his poor relative; consequently, the sum allotted in this case was utilized by another family.

The project helped solve problems related to the houses’ interiors for example by building extensions, which, among other things, allow male and female children to have their own rooms, or by installing new windows to improve ventilation.

The housing needs of the disable were taken into consideration with a focus on accessibility to allow the disable person to move into and around the home with his/her wheelchair. The Governorate of Nablus provided the wheelchairs, and additional ones were purchased for other families as well.

The project also provided high achieving and gifted children with opportunities to confidently progress in their academic development.

Undoubtedly poverty in Nablus is a highly problematic issue with many ramifications and in need of a concerted response. A large number of highly capable young people are unemployed. There is, in fact, a dire need to teach financial management skills and family planning to lower income households. Poor families are having a higher birth rate, which, in turn, creates more financial and sanitary problems.

 

The Arafat Soap Factory Conservation Project

The Arafat Compound, where the soap factory is located, is an example of a private housing compound. It consists of the owner’s residence and a reception area (Diwan) with its own independent entrance. It also has a small soap factory where the owner used to supervise the work. The building, in the center of the Old City, has a strong cultural importance. It is considered a unique example of the Palestinian traditional housing-industrial compounds.

 

The concept design is to make the most of the 914 sq. meters by incorporating facilities and creating usable spaces for cultural activities. At the same time we will endeavor to create a museum to demonstrate the soap manufacturing process[Fig. 16] .

Through this project the Sheikh Amr Arafat Foundation, one of the important community-based organizations, has the opportunity to use the premises to carry out its various initiatives. The project thus provides a cultural and spiritual benefit to the local community in that it helps regenerate old societal fabric and encourage similar community organizations to move into the Old City. This will help keep the city centre alive.

The Old City of Nablus lacks a suitable space that can host cultural activities and open spaces for children to play. Due to the high density and overlapping of its buildings there is no possibility to build new buildings that can provide such services. This is why old, abandoned buildings need to be re-used. The Arafat soap factory is part of an historic compound comprising a major hall suitable for such re-use and surrounded by two courtyards.

After renovation the site will be organized as follows:

- On the Ground Floor

1. The main entrance hall (the open courtyard). This will function as a club for ceramics during the day and as an open space for public lectures in the evening [Fig. 17].

2. The main office and the adjacent accountant office of the soap factory will be used for administrative purposes.

3. The main area, where originally the soap was manufactured, will remain as a small museum where traditional manufacturing instruments can also be exhibited, and traditional soap can be sold.

4. The internal storage spaces will be used as a permanent art gallery and a major hall for organizing art workshops [Fig. 18].

5. Another major hall will be used as a meeting place for staff and board of trustees, and as a public lecture hall.

- On the First Floor

The first floor [Fig. 19] will serve both as a specialized children library and as a study area for cultural heritage researchers. It is divided into three major sections.

1. The entrance hall will be used for group meetings.

2. The two internal spaces will be individual reading areas.

3. The third area has eight computers for Internet access, typing and printing.

To provide a safe playground for the children of the Old City, the internal courtyard will house toys so that children can play with minimal parental supervision.

Visitors can enjoy the restored building that constitutes a unique example of cultural architectural heritage of old Nablus. Families can have a complete space for “cultural integrity” to enjoy together.

 

 

[Fig. 1] Nablus, general view of the Old City. An-Nasr mosque with the green dome in the middle of the Old City.

[Fig. 2]  Nablus, an overview of the Roman Theatre.

[Fig. 3]  Nablus, Roman tombs found in the eastern part of the city.

[Fig. 4]  Nablus, main façade of Jacob’s Well Church.

[Fig. 5]  General view of Nablus in 1878 (Archivio IRCICA).

[Fig. 6]  Nablus, Abu Zant’s house hit by a missile, before reconstruction.

[Fig. 7]  Nablus, Abu Zant’s house after reconstruction, the main façade.

[Fig. 8]  Nablus, Kabir Mosque, main praying hall before restoration.

[Fig. 9]  Nablus, Kabir Mosque, main praying hall after restoration.

[Fig. 10]  Nablus, Kabir Mosque, main praying hall after restoration.

[Fig. 11]  Nablus, Kabir Mosque, main door before restoration.

[Fig. 12]  Nablus, Kabir Mosque, main door after restoration.

[Fig. 13]  Nablus, Kabir Mosque, mihrab during restoration.

[Fig. 14]  Nablus, Kabir Mosque, mihrab after restoration.

[Fig. 15]  Nablus, public awareness with children at Kabir Mosque.

[Fig. 16]  Nablus, main core of the Soap Factory manufacturing corner.

[Fig. 17]  Nablus, Soap Factory, main entrance to the ceramic workshop.

[Fig. 18]  Nablus, Soap Factory, upper floor, main hall during Afaf Arafat’s painting exhibition.

[Fig. 19]  Nablus, Soap Factory, upper floor, main stairs that were leading to the owner’s house.

 

 

NOTE
[1]
Demographic Reports, PCBS, Ramallah, 2012.
[2]G.E. Wright, Shechem: The Biography of A Biblical City, New York, 1965, p. 61.
[3]M.M. ad-Dabbagh, Bilāduna Falastīn (Palestine our Homeland), Beirut, 1988, vol. 6, p. 100;Encyclopaedia of Palestinian Cities, The Cultural Department, The Palestinian Liberation Organization, Tunis, 1990.
[4]D. ar-Rāhib, The Journey of the Russian Hajj: Danial ar-Rāhib, Amman, 1992, p. 118.
[5] A.S. Kalbouneh, The History of the City of Nablus. 2500 B.C.-1918 A.D., Nablus, 1992, p. 30..
[6]D. Pringle, Secular Buildings in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Cambridge, 1998, p. 118.
[7]Personal interview, March 14, 2003. It is worth mentioning that FatherUstenus is continuing the rebuilding of the church. The cornerstone was laid on May 17, 1998. The restoration of the roof in the old Byzantine style has been completed. Other restorations have been held up by the refusal of the Israelis to allow a shipment of tiles from Greece to enter Nablus.
[8]M. ad-Dominikāni, Buldāniyyat Filistīn al-’Arabiyyah, Beirut, 1948, p. 271. The story of Jacob at the well is from Genesis chapter 29 verses 1-10, that of Christ and the Samaritan woman from John’s Gospel chapter 4 verses 5-30.
[9]Holy Quran, Joseph’s Sura, verses 9-14.
[10]Ad-Dabbagh, Bilāduna Falastīn, cit., p. 105.
[11]Ad-Dominikāni, Buldāniyyat Filistīn, cit., p. 227.
[12]Ad-Dabbagh, Bilāduna Falastīn, cit., p. 112.
[13]
Hadrah is a difficult term to translate, but the approximate meaning is “respect” or “honour”.
[14]A. al-Maqrīzī, as-Sulūk lima’rifat Duwal al-Mulūk, Cairo, 1957, chapter 1, part 3, p. 381.
[15]Ad-Dominikāni, Buldāniyyat Filistīn, cit., p. 227.
[16]
I. as-Sāmiri, Thāher al-’umar an Independent Palestinian Leader, Nicosia, 1986, p. 48.
[17]
The sunjuk (in Turkish: Sancak) is the administrative division of the states in the Ottoman Empire, so that the state is composed of several sunjuks.
[18]He was a Turkish traveler who worked as a curator at Aya Sofya mosque in Istanbul and began his voyages after his service in the Turkish army. These travelers’ reports are known as Sayahitnamat si (Turkish), and are an important source on Palestinian history. Their translation by Astafan Hanna Astafan was published in the «Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine», vols. IV, V, VII, IX, 1934-1939.[19]E. Tshelebi, Travels in Palestine (1648-1650), Jerusalem, 1980, p. 50.
[20]Sheikh Abd al-Ghani an-Nābulsi was a mystic Syrian sheikh who came to Nablus during a journey through Palestine which started in 1690. His manuscript Trip to Jerusalem (Al-Hadra al-Unsiyah fi ar-Rihlah al-Qudsiyyah) is one of the most important sources documenting religious places. The tales about this traveler’s origin contradict each other: was he Syrian or from Jamm’īn, a village near Nablus? Nabulsi means native of Nablus. It is also the surname of a prominent family in the region and in other areas of the Arab world.
[21]
‘A. An-Nābulsi, Al-Hadrah l-Unsiyyah fi ar-Rihlah al-Qudsiyyah, Jerusalem, 1690, p. 103.
[22]Ad-Dabbagh, Bilāduna Falastīn, cit., p. 157.
[23]
See N. Arafat, M. Willemsen, “Cultural Emergency Response” and other Actions for the Cultural Heritage of Nablus, in Tutela, conservazione e valorizzazione del patrimonio culturale della Palestina, a cura di F. Maniscalco, Napoli, 2005, pp. 129-134.