Egypt in the Early 1900s: Rare Brooklyn Museum Slides

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Vintage photographic lantern slides show off the beautiful Egypt of the past that protests and instability have obscured

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The lantern slide—a transparent image on glass that was magnified and projected onto a surface using a sciopticon "magic lantern"—came of age shortly after it was first introduced by Philadelphia daguerreotypists William and Frederick Langenheim in 1849. The lantern slide greatly broadened the audience for photography, then still a young art, introducing it into academia and the cultural institutions of the day by allowing teachers and museum curators to illustrate their lectures and presentations with projected images.

We've seen an heard a lot about Egypt this year, in light of the recent political turmoil. We've even had some remix fun with it. (In a no-laughing-matter kind of way, of course.) But beneath what has turned into a highly politicized media talking point lies a remarkable, dignified country full of beauty and tradition. Much like last week's rare and fascinating look at vintage Japan aimed to rekindle the respect for and fascination with a culture consumed by the recent tragedy and subsequent media coverage, today's look at these breathtaking vintage lantern slides from Egypt is very much an invitation to take a look beyond the veil of immediacy and revel in the inherent beauty of this land, courtesy of Brooklyn Museum's fantastic archive.

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Egypt: Partly submerged palms above Nile dam, Upper Egypt Copyright, 1908, by Stereo-Travel Co. Brooklyn Museum Archives


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Egypt: Donkey and Cart, Kasr-en-Nil T. H. McAllister, Manufacturing Optician. 49 Nassau Street, New York. Brooklyn Museum Archives


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Egypt: Policeman, Cairo Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection


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Egypt: Arab porters, Alexandria Brooklyn Museum Archives


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Egypt: Donkey Boy, Cairo. This slide colored by Joseph Hawkes. Brooklyn Museum Archives


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Egypt: Buffalo Market, Gizeh T. H. McAllister, Manufacturing Optician. 49 Nassau Street, New York. Brooklyn Museum Archives


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Egypt: Arabian Horse and Sais, Cairo. This slide colored by Joseph Hawkes. Hooper. Brooklyn Museum Archives


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Egypt: Pyramids of Dashur from Sakkara T. H. McAllister, Manufacturing Optician. 49 Nassau Street. Hooper. Brooklyn Museum Archives


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Egypt: Sunset on the Nile. Brooklyn Museum Archives


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Egypt: Arabic Window and Native Bazaar, Cair T. H. McAllister, Manufacturing Optician. 49 Nassau Street. Brooklyn Museum Archives


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Egypt: Pompey's Pillar, Alexandria T. H. McAllister, Manufacturing Optician. 49 Nassau Street. Brooklyn Museum Archives


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Egypt: Arab water-carrier girls. Brooklyn Museum Archives


For another perspective-shift on this fascinating culture, don't forget last week's Cultural Connectives—an inspired effort to better understand Arab culture through typography.


This post also appears on Brain Pickings.

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Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

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