Tel Kabri, located in the western Galilee region of modern Israel several kilometers inland from modern Acco and Nahariyya, was the center of a Canaanite polity during the Middle Bronze Age (MB). Initial excavations conducted at the site from 1986 to 1993 revealed the remains of a palace dating primarily to the Middle Bronze Age II period, during the first half of the second millennium BCE. Excavations were resumed at the site in 2005 under the co-direction of the present editors, Assaf Yasur-Landau and Eric H. Cline. This volume presents the results of the work done at Tel Kabri from 2005 to 2011.
Psalm 91 and Demonic Menace Gerrit Vreugdenhil offers a thorough analysis of the text, structure and genre of Psalm 91. Already in its earliest interpretations, Psalm 91 has been associated with the demonic realm. The use of this psalm on ancient amulets and in magic texts calls for an explanation. Examining the psalms images of threat from a cognitive science perspective, Vreugdenhil shows that many of these terms carry associations with sorcery and magic, incantations and curses, diseases and demonic threat. The psalm takes demonic threat seriously, but also draws attention to the protection offered by JHWH. Finally, the author proposes an outline of the situational context in which Psalm 91 might have functioned.
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.
Although ostensibly gendered as men and frequently maintaining independent, patriarchal households, enslaved eunuchs (khwājasarās) in pre- and early colonial regimes in South Asia were often mocked for their supposed effeminacy, bodily difference, and pretensions to normative masculinity. In the Mughal successor state of Awadh (1722-1856), such mockery grew more pronounced in the wake of growing financial demands from the British East India Company and attempts by eunuchs to alienate property with wills and testamentary bequests. Through examples of verbal derision directed at eunuchs, this essay shows that not only did ideas of normative masculinity serve as a vehicle for Awadh’s rulers to defend their sovereign authority from colonial encroachment, but that notions of normative manhood continued to inform eunuchs’ own self-perception into the nineteenth century.
This article will focus on the incorporation of the Lingnan region into the territory of the Qin and Han Empire and will provide a deeper exploration of the role of “transportation networks” in expansionist politics and its effect on local socioeconomics. Through the study of historical and archaeological categories of evidence, the formation of the Lingnan transportation network and the specifics of Qin-Han frontier politics in the south will be discussed. It is argued that expansion and transport building were inspired by the same determinants, and transformed a selection of traffic “hot-spots” into socially-complex urban landscapes.
The aim of this paper is to offer a glimpse into the Bahaʾi mercantile community in Iran during the second half of the nineteenth century and its reformist and modernist attitudes through the accounts of one of its leading merchants, Hājī Mīrzā Sayyīd Muhammad-Taqī Shīrāzī (Afnān).
This article explores mining as the motor of temporary and permanent migration into the Far Southwest of Ming and Qing China. It focuses on the workforce of borderland silver mines, specifically on travel routes and the geography of recruitment. Durations and costs of the journeys reflect the existence of efficiently organized networks. The men who set out for the mines did so in the expectation of making money and returning home with handsome gains. This provides insights into the sizeable and profitable non-agrarian sector in the late imperial economy.
Focusing on the province of Damascus, this study shows that individuals of the ʿaskarī class were obligated to pay village taxes in proportion to the amount of property they owned, and that it was the village cultivators who had the primary authority for individuating and collecting these taxes. Providing a detailed picture of the relations between the ʿaskarī class and peasant communities before the rise of the a’yān in the eighteenth century, the study explores how peasants sought to enforce their decisions on these powerful individuals and to what extent they were successful in doing so.
Ponnāni was a port in southwestern India that resisted the Portuguese incursions in the sixteenth century through the active involvement of religious, mercantile and military elites. In the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Ponnāni was the only place where the Dutch East India Company had commercial access into the kingdom of the Zamorins of Calicut. When the Dutch gained prominence in the coastal belt, this port town became the main centre for their commercial, diplomatic, and political transactions. But as a religious centre it began to recede into oblivion in the larger Indian Ocean and Islamic scholarly networks. The present article examines this dual process and suggests important reasons for the transformations. It argues that the port town became crucial for diplomatic and economic interests of the Dutch East India Company and the Zamorins, whereas its Muslim population became more parochial as they engaged with themselves than with the larger socio-political and scholarly networks.
How far, if at all, did the intellectual legacy of early 20th-century Muslim reformism inform the transformative process which Islam underwent in Soviet Central Asia, especially after WWII? Little has been done so far to analyze the output of Muslim scholars (ʿulamāʾ) operating under Soviet rule from the perspective of earlier Islamic intellectual traditions. The present essay addresses this problem and sheds light on manifestations of continuity among Islamic intellectual practices—mostly puritanical—from the period immediately before the October Revolution to the 1950s. Such a continuity, we argue, profoundly informed the activity of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Central Asia and Kazakhstan (SADUM) established in Tashkent in 1943 and, more specifically, the latter’s attack against manifestations of religiosity deemed “popular,” which were connected to the cult of saints. Thus, this essay posits that the juristic output of Soviet ʻulamā’ in Central Asia originates from and further develops an Islamic reformist thinking, which manifested itself in the region in the late 19th- and early 20th-century. By establishing such an intellectual genealogy, we seek in this article to revise a historiographical narrative which has hitherto tended to decouple scripturalist sensibilities from Islamic reformism and modernism.
The present article shows that, according to archaeological and literary evidence, an expansion in mining occurred in the early Islamic world as a result of changes in mining technology at the end of Late Antiquity. The production of gold, silver, copper, iron, and other minerals is shown to have peaked in the eighth and ninth centuries and then to have declined during the tenth and eleventh centuries due to insecurity and/or exhaustion of the mines. Mining development was financed privately, and mines were usually private property.
Beginning in the 1850s, the Ottoman Empire’s educational landscape expanded and diversified. During this era of imperial reforms, discourses around education increasingly focused on the importance of female education. This article uses census material from Tripoli in today’s Lebanon to explore the experiences of students in the wake of these shifts. It examines literacy rates across different social and religious groups and the extent to which educational decisions parents made were biased by gender and class. The analysis reveals that the rate of Muslim boys’ literacy was high even before new schools opened starting in the 1850s. As for the post-reform developments, it shows that although around a quarter of propertied families decided to send their sons and daughters to school, a considerable proportion of Muslim and Christian families privileged sons alone. Still, reforms allowed a number of groups in the generations between 1860 and 1910 to achieve higher rates of literacy, including Muslim and Christian girls as well as the children of artisans.
Egyptian land tenure in the Fāṭimid period (969-1171) is often assumed to have been based on state ownership of agricultural land and tax-farming, as was in general the case in the Mamlūk period which followed it, and as many Islamic legal theorists rather schematically thought. This article aims to show that this was not the case; Arabic paper and parchment documents show that private landowning was normal in Egypt into the late eleventh century and later. Egypt emerges as more similar to other Mediterranean regions than is sometimes thought. The article discusses the evidence for this, and the evidence for what changed after 1100 or so, and, more tentatively, why it changed.
This article uses two manuscripts, comprising collections (majmūʿa) of firmans, petitions, and letters from Qajar Iran, as a lens through which to explore Qajar governance. It begins by introducing the manuscripts, and then discusses who copied them and why, how the contents of the collections circulated in Qajar Iran prior to their compilation, what that circulation says about Qajar Iran, and finally, how collections how such manuscript compilations such as these open new avenues of research in Qajar political history.
In late-nineteenth-century Hyderabad, the Persian administrative idiom gave way to bilingual English/Urdu conduct of governance, along with rising prominence of other languages, networks, and political ideologies. Before and after this shift, state bureaucrat-intellectuals published exhaustive accounts of Hyderabad’s administrative and political structure and history in Persian, Urdu, and English. This article considers several documentary texts and their authors’ social trajectories in the context of multiple scales of governance. It identifies a reorientation to a shifting global context in Hyderabadi documentary culture, and a productive engagement with British rule and colonial knowledge forms amidst other social and political possibilities.
While scholarship on the Ottoman Empire has explored its rich archives with great enthusiasm, there has been little work on the circulation of documents among the Empire’s subjects. This paper explores the archive of a Franciscan monastery in Ottoman Bosnia by following a single document in Ottoman Turkish from its issuance in the mid-sixteenth century to its interpretation within a historical monograph in the early twentieth. I address the ways in which the document circulated beyond the imperial offices and how the Franciscans transformed it through strategies including storing, marking, interpreting, cataloging, and silencing. The paper sheds light on the convergence between the deployment of the Ottoman documents and the rise of the Franciscan authority, indicating how Franciscan usage of the archive produced useful narratives beyond the confines and control of the Empire.
In 1880, the British Government of India passed an act for appointing individuals to the office of qazi to perform and record Muslim marriages. The act, a product of legislative collaboration, framed marriage registration as a solution to countless problems related to marriage. As a result, qazis and their assistants (nāʾibs) in places like Meerut recorded thousands of marriages using enumerative categories mirroring those found in colonial records. Yet rather than solving the problems surrounding Muslim marriages, as the act intended, these registers turned marital events into administrative facts and invited further management of Muslim marriages in the twentieth century.
This essay argues that recent theoretical literature on the archive contains critical insights for studies of Islamic documents, while also pushing to move beyond some of the core assumptions of that same literature. There is no question that the fundamental concerns of an “archival turn” are every bit as relevant to studies of Islamic societies, past and present, as they are to European-dominated ones. Yet investigating Islamic “archives” presents the challenge of coming to terms with a concept—the archive—and an attending set of assumptions and theoretical baggage derived almost exclusively from European history. To address this challenge, we propose that employing the term “cultures of documentation” offers a way of having one’s cake and eating it too. In deploying this expression, we signal that there existed multitudes of textual practices and record-keeping activities in the pre-industrial Islamic world, and that it is possible to move away from “archive” as a term without abandoning the core insights and questions of the historical literature built around it.
The article examines multiple approaches to archived documents and documentary depositories in the Ottoman Empire. By exploring a range of views that reflect a sense of archival consciousness among different groups and individuals throughout the Ottoman lands, the essay seeks to better contextualize the Ottoman quite successful attempts to regulate the imperial paper trail and to promote a specific view of the archive. More generally, by tracing the emergence of a particular form of archival consciousness among members of the imperial administrative and judicial elites as well as Ottoman subjects, the article intends to offer a framework for a comparative study of the archival practices throughout the eastern Islamic lands.
The mis̱āl, a type of administrative decree associated with the most important religious official in Safavid Iran (1501-1736), the ṣadr, has received little scholarly attention. This article attempts to lay the preliminary groundwork for a more comprehensive future study on the mis̱āls of the Safavid ṣadrs. In the first part, we introduce the ṣadr and his department, the dīwān al-ṣadāra. In the second part, we study how the scribal and archival practices of the mis̱āl construct the religious and administrative authority of the ṣadr and the dīwān al-ṣadāra. We focus on an unpublished mis̱āl relating to the endowment (waqf) of the shrine of a prominent Sufi shaykh of the Ṭayfūriyya tradition in Basṭām, Shaykh Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad b. ʿAlī Dāstānī (d. 417/1026). The appendix includes the text, translation, and a facsimile of the document.
This article evaluates provincial documentary culture in the Deccan (south-central India) prior to the incorporation of this region into Mughal Hindustan in 1687. It investigates the production and content of ʿarz-o-chehrah (muster rolls), one among many documentary genres that verified the Mughal soldier and his horse circulating on the front lines of uncertain conquest. From these materials, a previous generation of scholars distilled a taxonomy of self-contained “sub-national or ethnic” or “racial” groups (“Irani,” “Turani,” “Afghan,” “Rajput,” “Deccani,” “Indian Muslim,” and “Miscellaneous”) that confirmed narratives about the Mughal nobility found in chronicle histories. However, these modern construals of “ethnicity” remain difficult to map onto the actual ones found on descriptive rolls nor do they tell us how everyday interactions between provincial scribes and the soldier-subject transformed these categories. Social identifications underwent changes when imperial officials, scribes, and soldiers shared a war front with the armies of the regional, independent Deccan sultanates. Finer degrees of specificity characterized “northern” soldiers’ labels while “southern” cavalry were defined through broad, essentialized groupings, reflecting the changing profiles of cavalry recruitment. By analyzing social identifications, this article charts the making of a pan-subcontinent system of soldier recruitment wherein the state-making processes of northern and southern India began to mirror each other, widening the ways of defining and seeing the ‘Mughal’ soldier. This unique piece of paper bound two individual creatures, man and horse, whose identities were both separate and united, into a mutually-dependent relationship. These double portraits of man and horse functioned as proxies for pay slips and not simply as pre-modern identification cards. In doing so, they also provide a window into one instance of the uneven, ambiguous professionalization of mercenary-soldiers taking place across the early modern world.
This article analyses the drafting process and underlying principles of early Soviet legislation on water rights and taxation on water in Central Asia. While the new Bolshevik ideology provided an ideal justification to enact the State-centric, technocratic principles implicit in the Tsarist Turkestan “water law” of 1916, it took a very long time for the Soviet regime to produce a comprehensive legislation that would explicitly replace the local pre-existing customs which had survived in the colonial period. This is surprising especially in the light of the continuity in personnel in the government agencies that governed land and water resources across the 1917 revolution. Two possible reasons for this slowness were the early Soviet “decolonisation” imperative and the inertial persuasion that the legislator could not fully grasp the intricacies of water-related rights and duties.
The article addresses the managing of Aral Sea fisheries by the Tsarist administration, and the making of a colonial frontier inhabited by exiled Ural Cossack, Qaraqalpaq, Qazaq, Russian, and Ukrainian fishermen. By comparing the different power relations between Cossacks and the local population on the Ural River and in the Aral Sea region, it shows how they shaped fisheries management regulations and their effectiveness. It also investigates the conditions of production of scientific knowledge on the Aral Sea ecosystem and what role it played in governance decision-making. By drafting a series of fishing regulations and by examining the balance between humans and aquatic animals, scientists oriented the Tsarist government’s decisions on how to manage both the fisheries and the populations that exploited them. At the same time, members of a specific social group, the exiled Ural Cossacks, functioned as mediators between the imperial state and an ecosystem undergoing colonization.
Since the late imperial era, Yellow River floods have endangered the environmental equilibrium of North China, including parts of the Grand Canal. The Republican government’s response to water disasters reflected the influence of global networks and institutions of expertise. By turning to an American company for infrastructure work on the Grand Canal, Chinese government officials placed their faith in global science and finance to renew a domestic symbol of state power. The project failed; nonetheless the efforts to restore the waterways and provide relief reveal the entangled humanitarian, corporate, and educational interests of modern China’s state building and environmental management.
This is a paper about the speed and intensity with which new and intensive human land use in a semi-arid environment can bring about large-scale environmental change. In particular, this paper pinpoints how and why it was that the Yellow River shifted from a long-term condition of relative stability to a later state of frequent floods and course changes in the eleventh century. It is possible to trace the environmental history of this dramatic and sudden change of state with precision and confidence. Historical sources that record the dates and characteristics of flood events downstream align well with those that note the locations and dates of human activity upstream. More important, each aligns well not only with one another, but also with information from environmental science: sediment cores that preserve soil and pollen evidence for the timing and processes of systematic change.
How local government worked in late-Qing and early Republican Xinjiang (1877-1918) in Turkic Muslim-majority areas remains largely a mystery, since the few available official records obscure the very relationships between Chinese magistrates and local powerholders that made government possible. This article uses documents from a brief period in the early Republic when the provincial government actively intervened in local disputes over water resources to explore the expectations of Muslim commoners and practices of Chinese officials. It argues that the boundaries established within the provincial system and the unsuccessful transformation of structures of authority and communication disrupted preexisting long-distance arrangements for water distribution.