Back to London

OmarJoseph Nasser-Khoury [Birzeit University – Palestine]  At the risk of using a cliché, I find it a bit hard to believe that a year has already passed since the start of the first phase of the project ‘Documentation of the British Museum’s Palestine Textiles Collection.’ I remember the frantic last minute proposal writing and organising efforts communicated through past–midnight e-mails fired back and forth across the world. Not much has changed; especially not the frenzy or past-midnight e-mails! Indeed, the excitement is reassuringly undiminished and chaos as always, reigns supreme. Now as I prepare for my return to London to resume the second, and possibly final, phase of the project, I reflect on last year’s experience.  In 2018, I spent more than four months at the British Museum and updated…

The Making of a Pasha: Charles Moore Watson

Dr Michael Talbot  Lecturer in the History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Middle East, University of Greenwich  BBC & AHRC New Generation Thinker  ‘My dear Watson,  Long live the Pasha! May Your Excellency enjoy every bliss, and flourish like the palm in which the doves sit and sing their love songs.’   Herbert Kitchener, cited in Stanley Lane-Poole, Watson Pasha (1919)  With this rather teasing note, Herbert Kitchener congratulated Charles Moore Watson on being awarded the rank of mirliva, or major-general, in the Egyptian army in 1885. This high office came with the Ottoman title pasha, with the result that Watson would ever be known as “Watson Pasha“. An engineer by training with an interest in surveying, Watson was keen supporter of the Royal Geographic Society. A visit to Palestine in…

The Stonemasons of Beit Jala: Making the Stones Speak

By Dan Koski [part 2 of 2] Fawzy Nastas of Beit Jala is one of the most prolific stone sculptors in the West Bank. Having first learned his trade as an apprentice to his father during the renovation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the 1960s, he is the third stonemason within four generations (his grandfather having fled the country due to mass conscriptions into the Ottoman Army). Fawzy speaks English with a soft Italian accent; a remnant of the many years in which he studied stonemasonry in Italy. His workshop is witness to over five decades of consistent work in the Holy Land and abroad; commemorative grave markers for the Christian deceased, a veritable iconostasis of stone…