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Lecture | Studium Generale

Leiden Papyri and the Economic History of the Early Medieval Islamic World

Tuesday 16 April 2024
Lecture in Dutch
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
019 and online

Around 900 AD, the Islamic empire, which extended from the Hindu Kush in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, experienced significant economic prosperity. Goods were shipped to the major cities from both within and outside the empire; and agriculture not only provided food for the population but also generated tax revenue for the caliph and his governors to finance the government apparatus and the army. Leiden University Libraries holds a small treasure trove of texts that offer a unique insight into trade during this time: original letters and legal documents written by or for interregional traders, craftsmen, and local farmers in ninth- and tenth-century Egypt. These texts, written in Arabic on papyrus, provide unparalleled detail into the organization of local and interregional trade and the operations of farming enterprises. Using these Arabic papyrus documents, this lecture examines how the work of individual farmers and traders at the local or regional level contributed to larger economic developments.

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