Caravan Trade in the Late Ottoman Empire: the ʿAqīl Network and the Institutionalization of Overland Trade

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Philippe Pétriat Panthéon-Sorbonne University

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Building on recent works on Central Asia and using Ottoman, Arabic and European sources, this article challenges the idea that caravan trade was declining in the 19th and 20th-century Ottoman Middle East. It explores the caravan trade’s economic and political dimensions from the Gulf to Syria. This trade’s resurgence was simultaneous with the reassertion of imperial control over the steppe. In that changing context, the institutionalization of caravan trade by groups such as the ʿAqīl traders kept overland trade lively and arguably competitive.

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