Islamic Economics

Economy and Material Culture in the Early Islamic Empire
Bi-Weekly, Wednesday, 4-6 pm CEST Starting April 6, 2016

Islamic Material Culture

The Universität Bonn (Bethany Walker), the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich (Andreas Kaplony), The Bard Graduate Center in New York (Abigail Balbale), and Universität Hamburg (Stefan Heidemann) are co-operating in setting up a series of webinars in Archaeology of the Middle East, Arabic Papyrology, Islamic Arts and material Culture, and Numismatics of the Middle East.

Why Agriculture?

Why agriculture and the Early Islamic Empire in material culture? Not least Bulliet’s book about the cotton boom (2009) in the Early Empire has stimulated discourse about agriculture and elite culture of the Early Islamic Empire. The webinar tutorial explores different aspects of this agriculture boom in case studies from Central Asia to the Iberian Peninsula. We see a continuation and improvement in efficiency of established forms of irrigation from Late Antiquity to the Early Islamic Empire. The new Muslim elites turned into a landholding class establishing estates and luxurious mansions. The new imperial metropolises created an unprecedented demand in foodstuffs, which was answered by bringnig more land under cultivation and introducing more efficient ways of production. Food had to be transported, and maritime and river routes were established. While some of these developments can be explored through text, material culture and archaeology allows new ways to see this boom in detail. Guest lecturers will include Corisande Fenwick (University College London), Abigale Balbale (The Bard Graduate Center, New York), Sören Stark, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World), and Kristoffer Damgaard (Carsten Niebuhr Institute, Copenhagen), and Bethany Walker (Universität Bonn).

The webinar is part of the ‘Webinar Initiative in Islamic Material Culture’ jointly organized by the Bard Graduate Center, New York, Universität Bonn, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, and Universität Hamburg.
Prerequisites for participation

Spoken and written proficiency in English language. The course is open to all advanced students in B.A., M.A., and PhD programs of Islamic studies, historians, art historians, and archaeologists of the Middle East. All students need a computer, a reliable internet connection, and a headset. In a personal online short skype interview in early April 2016, we will check whether all technical assets are working. Students from Hamburg have to sign up in the campus system ‘Stine’ and to contact Stefan Heidemann as early as possible to register and get the necessary introduction to the technology. Students from universities other than Universität Hamburg are welcome and have to apply with a short CV and a motivation letter in English until March, 15, 2016. These will be emailed to Prof. Stefan Heidemann at: Preference is given to students from universities within the network of the webinar initiative “Islamic Material Culture”.

Andreas Kaplony, H-Mideast-Medieval, Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Arabic Papyrology Database (APD) team wishes you a happy New Year. Our present: new, handy features implemented in the APD and many, many more documents . Please, check under

(a) “Documents”. For 2,571 published documents, we provide the full text of the document and information on the document, while for another 6,281 published and unpublished documents, we give information on the document only. We are proud to offer not only records from Egypt and the Middle East, but also a quite comprehensive list of Arabic documents from Sicily and Spain: click on “Origin” and choose Sicily or Spain. Weekly updates! – For full bibliographical details, check at

(b) “Text”: This is our full text search tool. Many features, including search restricted by time, provenance, document type, etc.

(c) “Lexicon”: This site is completely new and allows you to access the lexicon of all implemented texts in several ways: Looking for a lemma, you will have an overview on all actual realizations, with hyperlinks giving you direct access. You might look for a root, a verbal stem, or a shape/morpheme type (e.g. fāʿil or faʿʿāl). Or try Word categories (functional categories) and Domains (semantic categories), independently or in combined searches.

We would be happy to have your feedback on the new features.

Best regards, Eva Youssef-Grob (, for the Arabic Papyrology Database team

Check out the new podcast by Nur Sobers-Khan on the Ottoman History Podcast Site. Here is a description of the podcast:

The legal and social environments surrounding slavery and manumission during the early modern period varied from place to place and profession to profession. In this episode, Nur Sobers-Khan presents her exciting research on the lives of a particular population of slaves in Ottoman Galata during the late eighteenth century, how they were classified and documented under Ottoman law, and the terms by which they were able to achieve their freedom.

The Princeton Geniza Project of the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University seeks to extend the methodologies available to Hebrew and Arabic scholars working with the documents found in the Geniza chamber of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo in the late 19th century. The project is dedicated to transcribing documents from film copies to computer files, creating a full text retrieval text-base of transcribed documents, developing new tools such as dictionaries, semantic categories and morphological aids to further the study of Geniza texts. The project is committed to disseminating its materials as widely as possible to the international community of scholars with an interest in the life of the medieval Middle East, as well as to all with an interest in Judaica. It is our hope that by making materials from this very esoteric field widely available that new insights can be gained into the interaction of the peoples of the Middle East in past time. Since inception in 1986, funding has been provided by Princeton University, the Department of Near Eastern Studies, and from 2000 to 2005 by the Friedberg Genizah Project.

Arabic Papyrus #1564: Receipt for agricultural tax (1/3 of a dinar: from Ushmunayn in Middle Egypt. Compete scroll with seal in fine quality light brown papyrus. 9.3 x 8.3 cm written in black ink. Recto: 6 lines. In good condition. Verso: Two lines occupying the middle of the scroll. In good condition. 249 AH/863-4 CE

The Arabic Papyrus, Parchment & Paper Collection at the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah is the largest of its kind in the United States. It contains 770 Arabic documents on papyrus and more than 1300 Arabic documents on paper, as well as several pieces on parchment.

Professor Aziz Suriyal Atiya, founder of the Middle East Center and the Middle East Library, compiled the collection. Dr. Atiya and his wife, Lola, purchased the collection over a period of several years from dealers in Egypt, Beirut, and London. The bulk of the collection originated in Egypt, in addition to a small group of fragments from the University of Chicago. A large number of pieces date to the period between 700 and 850 CE. The collection includes a significant number of documents from the pre-Ottoman period and thus offers unique source material on the political, economic, religious and intellectual life of Egypt during the first two centuries of Islamic rule and the period up to Ottoman domination.

‘Great Ruler of Sogdiana, of the Tchao-ou Race’/Alram’s ‘Imitationsgruppe V’
Yueh Chih Principality of Sogdiana AR Tetradrachm, 130 BCE – 80 CE

The Fifth Seminar in Central Asian and Middle Eastern Numismatics in Memoriam Boris Kochnev will be held at Hofstra University on Saturday, March 16, 2013.

This seminar is free and open to the public. Hofstra is located in Hempstead, NY, easily accessible from NYC by the Long Island Railroad. For directions click here or here. The seminar will be held in Breslin Hall, room 112. For more information, contact Aleksandr Naymark or Daniel Martin Varisco.

Seminar Program:

10:00 am
Daniel Varisco (Hofstra University)
Opening Remarks

Vadimir Belyaev (, Moscow) and Aleksandr Naymark (Hofstra University)
Archer Coins from South Sogdiana (1st – 3rd centuries C.E.)

10:45 pm
Pankaj Tandon (Boston University)
Notes on Alchon Coins

11:15 pm
Waleed Ziad (Yale University)
The Nezak – Turk Shahi Transition:
Evidence from the Kashmir Smast (mid 7th c. C.E.) (more…)

It is our honor, on behalf of the Harvard Arab Alumni Association, the various MENA clubs across campus, and the Arab student body, to welcome you all to the 6th Harvard Arab Weekend, taking place at Harvard University from the 8th through the 11th of November, 2012.

As the largest pan-Arab conference in North America, the Harvard Arab Weekend has prided itself on showcasing a mosaic of perspectives and insights on the most pressing issues in the Arab world. Last year, the Harvard Arab Weekend was commended by the White House as “The Premier Arab World Conference” in North America. This year, we strive to uphold our venerable tradition of engaging discourses and informative debates.

At this critical moment of modern Arab history, and in the midst of the many challenges created by the unprecedented transformations in the Arab world, Arabs, from the Gulf to the Ocean, are posing critical questions about their past, present, and future. While the entire Arab landscape is undergoing a process of re-creation, Arabs look ahead at the future, wondering whether they will be able to sustain what they have achieved after more than a century of struggle. This year’s edition of the Harvard Arab Weekend specifically aspires to tackle these challenges and discuss how Arabs can sustain the “Spring” and avoid reverting back to authoritarianism or falling into chaos. (more…)

Dirham of the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik (685-705), minted 699-741

The American Numismatic Society presents a Lecture
The Wrapped Coin: The Ritual of Coin Giving in the Early and Middle Islamic Period

by Stefan Heidemann
Wednesday 7 March 2012
5:30pm Reception
6:00pm Lecture*

The talk will focus on the cultural context of these coins and the custom of using coins, in many cases special issues, as presentation pieces.

Stefan Heidemann is curator of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and visiting professor at the Bard Graduate Center / New York. He studied history, art history and economics in Berlin, Damascus, and Cairo; Ph.D. Free University Berlin 1993; ’93 alumnus of the ANS Graduate Seminar. He became assistant and associate professor at Jena University 1994 to 2010, visiting professorships at Leipzig University 2001-2003. Fellowships include German Research Foundation; Harvard’s Center of Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington; Institute of Advanced Studies, Jerusalem, Aga-Khan Program of Islamic Architecture at MIT; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK; and others. Samir-Shamma-Prize of the Royal Numismatic Society for Islamic Numismatics 2005. Cooperation with German, British, French, and Syrian archeological missions, in al-Raqqa, Damascus, Aleppo, Masyaf and other sites. Between 2009 and 2009 he taught at The Bard Graduat Center in New York Islamic Art and Material Culture, and served as Associate Curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2010-2011. Publications include Das Aleppiner Kalifat (1994); Die Renaissance der Städte (2002); Raqqa II: Die islamische Stadt (ed. and author) (2003); He edited one Sylloge of Islamic Coins of the Oriental Coin Cabinet at Collection of Jena University and of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

Preceding the lecture
A special ceremony will be held for the donation of a rare and unusual Umayyad silver dirham to the ANS cabinet from long-time ANS Member, Hon. Robert H. Pelletreau Jr. The Hon. Pelletreau will present the coin in honor of Dr. Michael L. Bates, ANS Curator Emeritus of Islamic Coins, in recognition of his many valuable contributions to the field of Islamic numismatics. Dr. Bates will speak briefly about the historical context of the coin and its attribution.

Among his 35 years in Foreign Service, the Hon. Robert H. Pelletreau served as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from February 1994 to January 1997. Prior to that he served as U.S. Ambassador to Egypt (1991-1993), to Tunisia (1987-1991) and to Bahrain (1979-1980).

NOTE: rsvp required to (212) 571-4470 ext 117 government issued photographic i.d. required for entry

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