István Ormos is an Arabist and Semitist. His interests include Arabic philology, the history of medicine among the Arabs, Ethiopian studies, Arabic sources on the early history of the Hungarians, and the history of Oriental Studies. In recent years he has been involved in researching the life of Max Herz Pasha (1856–1919) and his work on the conservation of Arab-Islamic and Coptic monuments in Egypt. His monograph on Herz was published by IFAO in 2009.
Built as a temporary structure and made of ephemeral materials, “Cairo Street” had a dual nature. On the one hand it was a purely scientific installation, a piece of anthropology. On the other, it became the most popular entertainment venue at the World’s Columbian Exposition of Chicago (1893), a place where “people went wild with excitement”. Far from being a copy of any actual street, it was an assemblage of authentic architectural elements put together in such a way as to conjure up the atmosphere of the Arab-Islamic metropolis, the city of the Thousand and One Nights.
Max Herz Pasha (1856-1919), chief architect to the Comité de Conservation des Monuments de l’Art Arabe for a quarter of a century (1890-1914), was in charge of the conservation of monuments of Islamic and Coptic architecture in Egypt at a period of crucial importance. We are indebted to him for the survival of many important monuments in Cairo, while in the case of those which he restored he determined their present-day shape to a considerable degree. Herz was the first director of the Arab Museum (now Museum of Islamic Art) and also an accomplished scholar.