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The Villages of the Fayyum: A Thirteenth-Century Register of Rural, Islamic Egypt

Y. Rapoport, I. Shahar (eds.)
approx. X+600 p., 1 map, 156 x 234 mm, 2018
ISBN: 978-2-503-54277-5
Languages: English, Arabic
The publication is in production.The publication is in production. (05/2018)
Retail price: EUR 125,00 excl. tax
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Richly annotated and with a detailed introduction, this volume offers the first academic edition and translation of a first-hand account of the Egyptian countryside, offering a key insight into the rural economy of medieval Islam.

Medieval Islamic society was overwhelmingly a society of peasants, and the achievements of Islamic civilization depended, first and foremost, on agricultural production. Yet the history of the medieval Islamic countryside has been neglected or marginalized. Basic questions such as the social and religious identities of village communities, or the relationship of the peasant to the state, are either ignored or discussed from a normative point of view.

This volume addresses this lacuna in our understanding of medieval Islam by presenting a first-hand account of the Egyptian countryside. Dating from the middle of the thirteenth century, Abū ‘Uthmān al-Nābulusī’s Villages of the Fayyum is as close as we get to the tax registers of any rural province. Not unlike the Domesday Book of medieval England, al-Nābulusī’s work provides a wealth of detail for each village which far surpasses any other source for the rural economy of medieval Islam. It is a unique, comprehensive snap-shot of one rural society at one, significant, point in its history, and an insight into the way of life of the majority of the population in the medieval Islamic world. Richly annotated and with a detailed introduction, this volume offers the first academic edition of this work and the first translation into a European language. By opening up this key source to scholars, it will be an indispensable resource for historians of Egypt, of administration and rural life in the premodern world generally, and of the Middle East in particular.

Table of Contents

Part I

  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: Author and Work
  • Chapter Two: Decoding the Villages of the Fayyum
  • On the Arabic Edition
  • Measures, Weights and Monetary Units
  • Map of the Villages of the Fayyum

Part II.  Edition and Translation of the Villages of the Fayyum

  • Author’s Introduction
  • First Chapter: A general description of the Fayyum
  • Second Chapter: Account of the Fayyum's climate
  • The Third Chapter: A description of the Fayyum's air and water
  • The Fourth Chapter: Explaining the continuous flow of its water even when it is not inundated [by the Nile], and without having any river drawn into it or a canal reaching it
  • The Fifth Chapter: Account of its inhabitants and their division into Bedouins and non-tribal people (ḥaḍar)
  • The Sixth Chapter:  Account of the deterioration of its canal and the reason for that, and of the villages that have so fallen into ruin that their reconstruction could only be achieved by [investing] generous sums of money over a long period of time
  • The Seventh Chapter: List of the names of its villages, arranged by the letters of the alphabet
  • The Eighth Chapter: Account of its congregational mosques, neighbourhood mosques, monasteries and churches
  • The Ninth Chapter: Account of of its aggregate taxes in specie and in grains, and other taxes
  • The Tenth Chapter: A description of its villages and their fiscal revenues, village by village



Interest Classification:
Religion (including History of Religion) & Theology
Medieval & Renaissance History (c.400-1500)
Medieval European history (400-1500) : main subdisciplines
Social & economic history
Medieval History (400-1500) : subperiods
Central Middle Ages (c.900 -1250)
Pre-modern (but not ancient) history of other continents & subcontinents
General Mediterranean, incl North Africa & Middle East

This publication is also distributed by: ISD, Marston
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