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Caliphal Finances

The Finances of the Caliphate: Abbasid Fiscal Practice in Islamic Late Antiquity

Welcome!

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Welcome to the website of the Caliphal Finances project!

We are building this website up as an online space to share our upcoming events, collaborations and conversations with other researchers and research teams, and other exciting news. We will also regularly shine a spotlight on specific documents, objects, or issues that we are grappling with in the moment.

Where to start? Learn more about the content and goals of the project, about the members of the Caliphal Finances team, or scroll down to read our most recent posts!

The Paperwork of Taxation: Abbasid Fiscal Documents from Egypt

The administration of taxation in the Abbasid Caliphate generated a substantial amount of paperwork. A fraction of this documentation, in the form of pieces of papyrus and paper written in Arabic, Coptic, and Greek, has been excavated in Egypt and dispersed to various collections, predominantly located in Europe and the United States. These documents provide insight into the management of taxation on the ground. In this blog, we provide a first look at the various types of documents that were produced in the context of the Abbasid fiscal administration in Egypt.

Be Our Guest: The Caliphal Finances Team Spent Two Days with Cecilia Palombo

From May 26 to 28, the Caliphal Finances team had the pleasure of hosting Cecilia Palombo, Assistant Professor of Early Islamic History at the University of Chicago.

Research Visit: A Deep Dive into Fiscal Documents at the Austrian National Library

In April this year, two of our team members, PhD student Dalia and postdoctoral researcher Eline, visited the papyrus collection of the Austrian National Library in Vienna. We spent a week studying dozens of Arabic, Coptic, and Greek papyrus and paper documents from the fiscal administration of Abbasid Egypt.

The Caliphal Finances Team Invites Scholars to Discuss Their Research and Taxation

To share our ongoing work on the project, test hypotheses, learn more about the work of researchers on taxation and the history of the period we are studying, and compare our findings with other areas or periods, we regularly invite colleagues to join us for a few days of discussion and collaboration. Over the past years (2022-2023), we have had the great pleasure of welcoming the following scholars:

Highlights of 2023: Key Moments with the Caliphal Finances Team

In March 2023, part of our team traveled to Egypt to participate in the Ninth international Society for Arabic Papyrology (ISAP) Conference, held at Fayyum University from March 6 to March 9. Our PI Marie Legendre, who was part of the Board of Directors (and is now President of ISAP) and Dalia Hussein presented a joint paper entitled “The taxation and ownership of land in the Abbasid countryside: simple questions?” in the panel devoted to Taxes chaired by Yossi Rapoport. To see the complete programme: Click Here

Highlights of 2022: Key Moments with the Caliphal Finances Team

In 2022, the Caliphal Finances team participated in several notable events.Our journey began at the XXXth International Congress of Papyrology, held in Paris from July 25 to 30. Our Principal Investigator (PI), Marie Legendre, presented her research, “Le paiement des impôts à l’époque abbasside: L’exemple de la capitation,” on Friday, July 29, in the Arabic Papyrology session. The overall program was incredibly engaging, and we attended numerous sessions focused on taxation. For more details, you can view the program [here].

The Caliphal Finances and SCORE’s Team Organised a Workshop at the University of Edinburgh with the Balzan Seminar in September 2023

The Trouble with Taxation: Tax Revolts and Discourses against Fiscal Policies

Last September, SCORE and Caliphal Finances teamed up to organize a two-day informal workshop at the University of Edinburgh (4-5 September 2023). This event was organized with the generous support of the ‘Balzan Seminar on the Formation, Maintenance, and Failure of States in the Muslim World before 1800’, directed by Michael Cook from Princeton University, Antoine Borrut from the University of Maryland, and Marie Legendre. SCORE, ‘Social Contexts of Rebellion in the Early Islamic Period’, is a DFG research group based in Hamburg and led by Hannah-Lena Hagemann, with whom the Caliphal Finances team has been in contact since 2021.

The Caliphal Finances team at the SMM 2024

The Caliphal Finances team participates in the upcoming SMM conference in Edinburgh

The eighth conference of the Society of the Medieval Medieval Mediterranean will take place in Edinburgh from June, 24 to June, 27.

The theme of the conference will be “Being Human: Rhythms, Actions, Inter-actions in the Medieval Méditerranean”. To know more about it, please visit their website: SMM 2024

Theresa Grabmaier (LMU Munich) and Georgi Obatnin (University of Edinburgh) have organized a panel entitled “Fiscal Flows and Social Bonds: Exploring the Taxation of Medieval Islamic Egypt.” This panel will be chaired by our PI, Marie Legendre, and two members of our team will present alongside Theresa. See below for the abstract and program details of the panel. Please join us on Tuesday, June 25th, at 9 AM!

 

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