Other spelling: Al-Fustat
Incorrect spelling: Fostat
In the 9th century, Fustat reached its height, having as much as 120,000 inhabitants.
The finding of the location was simple, close to the border between the two Egypts, Upper and Lower, the Nile valley and the delta. The capital of Ancient Egypt, Memphis, was about 15 km further south and on the other side of the Nile. Fustat was established around the Byzantine fortress known as Babylon.
The name comes from an odd Arabic word for 'tent', a reflection of what kind of settlement this at first was. Fustat appears not have been the original name, rather Babylon was employed. Fustat became the common name after a few years.
The settlement quickly grew to become a sizeable city, thriving from commerce and industries in glass and ceramics. Its organization was extremely poor, no central planning was done, and fire and pestilence would ravage it from time to time. Yet, the water and sewage systems were of high standard.
It would remain the administrative capital of Egypt under the Umayyads while the Abbasids began constructing a new centre, known as al-Askar. When Fustat was conquered by Tunisian invaders, the Fatimids, Fustat's importance would dwindle even more, as Cairo was founded, north of al-Askar.
Today, much of Fustat has been excavated, but the remains are poor and not very illustrative. The main landmark, the Mosque of Amr, still stands, although altered many times through history. Many sections Fustat are today a part of larger Cairo.