When the Ruins Were New by Colin Thubron | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books.
Yet in his studies of architectural splendors, the contemporary inhabitants — peasants, caretakers, laborers —provide merely a sense of proportion and a touch of oriental romance. The torpor of the declining Ottoman empire is palpable in his rare group photographs—unreliable Ottoman mercenaries or ragged Albanian water-carriers—as it is in the empty-looking villages of Hebron or Bethany. Even the streets of Cairo appear deserted. And there are no Jews.