Reconstructing Archival Practices in Abbasid Baghdad

In: Journal of Abbasid Studies
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  • 1 University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

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The Abbasid administration relied extensively on the use of written documents. The central administrative apparatus in Baghdad, with its numerous specialised bureaus, seems to have been one of the main producers of documents and it must have possessed some of the largest archives of its era. However, only few documents issued by and written for the central administration have survived in their original form. Through an analysis of references found in narrative sources, this article seeks to provide a reconstruction of the functioning of the archives of the central administration in Baghdad during the caliphate of al-Muqtadir (r. 295/908-320/932).

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  • 5

    Herzfeld, Samarra, 271-274; Reinfandt, Administrative Papyri.

  • 17

    Ṣābiʾ, Wuzarāʾ, 208-209.

  • 18

    Ṣābiʾ, Wuzarāʾ, 209.

  • 19

    Qudāma b. Jaʿfar, Kharāj, 63; transl. Heck, Construction of Knowledge, 87, with small modifications.

  • 21

    Ṣābiʾ, Wuzarāʾ, 31, 121, 184, 341.

  • 23

    Ṣābiʾ, Wuzarāʾ, 163-164. For a more detailed description of this case, see van Berkel, Embezzlement. In some cases such a research in the records was extended by the dispatch of an official to the district in question in order to investigate the local situation; see Ṣābiʾ, Wuzarāʾ, 165; also, Løkkegaard, Taxation, 151.

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  • 29

    See also Løkkegaard, Taxation, 162-163.

  • 32

    See, for example, van Berkel et al., Crisis and Continuity, 98-99.

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