World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Analysis of Muslim Empires - 2/2: The Mameluk Era (398) - Panel

· Date: THU, 22 / 5:00 - 7:00 pm

· Language: English

· Description:

Chair: Warren Schultz (DePaul University)

Paper presenter: Theocharis N. Grigoriadis (Graduate Student, UC Berkeley), “Islam as an Economic System: Bureaucracy and Distribution in Safavid Persia and Post-Revolutionary Iran”
Defining Islam as an economic system whose normative values advance social welfare at the expense of individual profit is essential for analyzing distributive bureaucracies in Iranian politics. The concepts of fard-al-kifayah and zakah reveal the economic rationale of Islam; this is a religion protecting the poor from the greed of the rich and treating the state as an institution that constrains social injustice. Safavid Persia and Islamic Iran suggest interesting cases for my analysis, as they form the imperial and revolutionary ends of Islamic public policy in different institutional, political and economic and therefore historical environments. The establishment of Shi’ite Islam as Iran’s state religion was facilitated by the vertical integration of the empire and the emergence of bureaucratic institutions that treated religion as a means toward economic growth and social stability. Post-revolutionary Iran has stressed the significance of public ownership when it comes to critical state resources such as energy and infrastructure. Post-revolutionary economic bureaucracies maintain a higher degree of financial and institutional autonomy than their counterparts in the Safavid period. Nevertheless, the claim for the intertemporal continuity of Islam as an economic system holds.

Paper presenter: Warren Schultz (Associate Professor, DePaul University), “Mamluk Mint Practice and the Numismatic Evidence”
This paper addresses what is known and not known about the operation of the mints in the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt and Syria, 1250-1517, and brings new evidence to bear. The paper does this in two parts. The first surveys the state of our knowledge. Unlike the case for the Ayyubid period, there are no surviving mint manuals from the Mamluk era. The existing studies to date (Ehrenkreutz, Brown, Cahen, etc.) have relied upon that previous Ayyubid material (assuming, correctly, a continuity of practice) and the occasional short discussion of minting scattered throughout Mamluk writers, especially al-Qalqashandi and al-Maqrizi. This paper complements this knowledge by drawing attention to additional passages in the sources as well. After surveying this previous scholarship, the second half of this paper uses surviving numismatic evidence to see what can be learned about the manufacture of coin blanks (flans) and the striking of coins. This numismatic material has been curiously underutilized for the study of Mamluk mint practice. Concentrating primarily on the silver dirhams of Cairo, this study makes use of the increased availability for study of Mamluk coins of a wide range of quality and appearance, in part due to the recent surge in sylloge publication which present all the coins of an institution for study, not just the best ones. This increased availability of specimens has brought to light coins that would likely not have been accessed to collections (or published) for aesthetic reasons in an earlier age. A survey of these rougher coins reveals at least three distinct methods of the production of silver coins in the Mamluk sultanate. Curiously, the dates of coins studied indicate that the methods of production often overlapped that is to say that different methods of minting were at use at the same time. The paper concludes by placing this phenomenon in the wider contexts of medieval mint practice in neighbouring parts of the Mediterranean world.

Paper presenter: Joseph Drory (Professor, Bar Ilan University), “Qarasunqur - Vicissitudes of a Mamluk Amir”
Qar'sunqur' vicissitudes of a Mamluk amir's career. The career of amir Qar'sunqur, a leading officer in the Mamluk state ca. 1280-1310 is both singular and, so runs my argument, typical. A favourite of sultan Qal'w'n, Qar'sunqur led a dynamic decade in Aleppo, building and fighting, yet urging 'due to prowess and astuteness ‘rivals’ enmity. Endeavors to topple him 'proved unsuccessful. At a certain stage in 1291 anti-Qar'sunqur defamations bore fruits. Unwillingly, the sultan removed him from office. In Egypt where he now resided he experienced extreme windings of fate. He took part in the murder of sultan al-Ashraf, his benefactor's son, spent several months in hide for fear of being penalized, finally relieved with consent of al-N'ir, the killed sultan's brother. In 1296 he earned the prestigious post of chief viceroy (n'ib al-sal'ana). A second term of prison, result of vilification by his rivals, release and a ten years tenure as a governor back in Aleppo followed suit. Most of the third chapter of his career he spent as renegade, in the Mongol court in Persia, asking shelter from the lethal wrath of sultan al-N'ir. Hit men sent to his abode in Mar'gha paid with their lives for their failure. Qar'sunqur, sustained by contra-information net, managed to carry on, as respected persona. He passed away in 1328, on his bed, at the approximate age of 70. Collating Mamluk biographical dictionaries and chronicles enables one to trace Qar'sunqur whereabouts, his opponents' ruses and the tricks he embraced to avoid capture and eventually demise. His biography, though unique, is symptomatic, almost inherent, in the Mamluk system and regime, where survival could be guaranteed not by hereditary rights or noble origin rather by perpetual cautiousness and slyness.

Paper presenter: Takenori Yoshimura (Doctoral Candidate, School Of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University), “An Analysis of Local Administrative System during 14th Century Mamluk Egypt: Establishment and Development of wālī, kāshif and nā’ib”
Mamluk Egypt (1250-1517) has succeeded many parts of administrative system from former dynasties (e.g. Ayyubid Dynasty). Although administrative customs of Nile flood control can be seen continuous, the local administrative officer w’l’, who had responsible for the maintenance of local irrigation system, were not present during the Ayyubid Dynasty. This local officer was thought that it was placed in each province iql’m in early Mamluk period. And also we can see that during the third reign of Sultan al-N’’ir Mu’ammad Ibn Qal’w’n (r. 1310-1341), some Amirs were sent to provinces in Egypt as a local officer called k’shif. Though the establishment and development of these local administrative officers has not been revealed so far. Therefore, we pay attention for the local administrative officials in 14th century Egypt, especially during the period of the third reign of al-N’’ir Mu’ammad and after his death. And analyze through the following processes: 1. Provinces of Egypt in the early Mamluk period. 2. Nile floods control and the duties of local administrators w’l’. 3. Changes and the background of the establishment of local administrative officers w’l’ and k’shif. The establishment and development of these local administrative officers or inspectors (w’l’ and k’shif) will be analyzed through the sources from early 14th century onwards. Especially the position of k’shif as a local administrator was established to collect agricultural taxes and maintain the healthy relationship between local villages and Arab tribes urb’n in both Upper and Lower Egypt, during the third reign of Sultan al-N’’ir Mua’mmad. This position later adjusted to the unstable environment created by rebellions of urb’n and epidemics including the Black Death, which played out after al-N’’ir Mu’ammad’s death between middle and late 14th Century.