Libraries, Books, and Transmission of Knowledge in Ilkhanid Baghdad

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Michal Biran The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Search for other papers by Michal Biran in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



The destruction of the Baghdadi libraries has been a powerful image connected to the Mongol conquest of 1258, often claimed to have precipitated the decline of Muslim civilization. This study, however, challenges this claim by reconstructing the state of libraries in Ilkhanid Baghdad, revealing a thriving intellectual community. Based on a close reading in Arabic biographical dictionaries and analysis of samāʿ and book lists, it elucidates the functions of libraries in Ilkhanid Baghdad, identifies channels of knowledge transmission, and offers a glimpse of the libraries’ holdings. Finally, it analyzes the Mongols’ role in invigorating local scholarship and the impact their rule had on Baghdad’s intellectual life.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 2186 396 43
Full Text Views 333 25 6
PDF Views & Downloads 505 53 7