The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire explores the serious and far-reaching impacts of Little Ice Age climate fluctuations in Ottoman lands. This study demonstrates how imperial systems of provisioning and settlement that defined Ottoman power in the 1500s came unraveled in the face of ecological pressures and extreme cold and drought, leading to the outbreak of the destructive Celali Rebellion (1595-1610). This rebellion marked a turning point in Ottoman fortunes, as a combination of ongoing Little Ice Age climate events, nomad incursions and rural disorder postponed Ottoman recovery over the following century, with enduring impacts on the region's population, land use and economy.
In one of the first ever environmental histories of the Ottoman Empire, Alan Mikhail examines relations between the empire and its most lucrative province of Egypt. Based on both the local records of various towns and villages in rural Egypt and the imperial orders of the Ottoman state, this book charts how changes in the control of natural resources fundamentally altered the nature of Ottoman imperial sovereignty in Egypt and throughout the empire. In revealing how Egyptian peasants were able to use their knowledge and experience of local environments to force the hand of the imperial state, Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt tells a story of the connections of empire stretching from canals in the Egyptian countryside to the palace in Istanbul, from the forests of Anatolia to the shores of the Red Sea, and from a plague flea's bite to the fortunes of one of the most powerful states of the early modern world.
The Ottoman Empire was one of the greatest early modern world empires, stretching from the outskirts of Vienna in the west to the Caucasus Mountains in the east and from the tip of Arabian Peninsula in the south to the Ukrainian steppes in the north, covering an area of 3.81 million square kilometres. The Ottomans were remarkable not just for their political and military success but also for their desire and ability to understand, adapt, modify and manage different environments. This edited volume is the first collective effort to take an original look at the Ottomans through the lens of environmental history. In its wide-ranging essays, environmental perspectives illuminate diverse historical processes and events in the long history of the Ottoman Empire. The essays thus offer new answers to old questions - but also ask new questions - about the ways the Ottomans related to, depended on, thought about and interacted with the natural environment. It will appeal to anyone interested in the environmental history of one of the world's largest and most durable empires, the longest-lasting in the history of the Muslim world.
From Morocco to Iran and the Black Sea to the Red, Water on Sand rewrites the history of the Middle East and North Africa from the Little Ice Age to the Cold War era. As the first holistic environmental history of the region, it shows the intimate connections between peoples and environments and how these relationships shaped political, economic, and social history in startling and unforeseen ways. Nearly all political powers in the region based their rule on the management and control of natural resources, and nearly all individuals were in constant communion with the natural world. To grasp how these multiple histories were central to the pasts of the Middle East and North Africa, the chapters in this book evidence the power of environmental history to open up new avenues of scholarly inquiry.
Since humans first emerged as a distinct species, they have eaten, fought, prayed, and moved with other animals. In this stunningly original and conceptually rich book, historian Alan Mikhail puts the history of human-animal relations at the center of transformations in the Ottoman Empire from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.Mikhail uses the history of the empire's most important province, Egypt, to explain how human interactions with livestock, dogs, and charismatic megafauna changed more in a few centuries than they had for millennia. The human world became one in which animals' social and economic functions were diminished. Without animals, humans had to remake the societies they had built around intimate and cooperative interactions between species. The political and even evolutionary consequences of this separation of people and animals were wrenching and often violent. This book's interspecies histories underscore continuities between the early modern period and the nineteenth century and help to reconcile Ottoman and Arab histories. Further, the book highlights the importance of integrating Ottoman history with issues in animal studies, economic history, early modern history, and environmental history.Carefully crafted and compellingly argued, The Animal in Ottoman Egypt tells the story of the high price humans and animals paid as they entered the modern world.
This book explores the history of natural disasters in the Ottoman Empire and the responses to them on the state, communal, and individual levels. Yaron Ayalon argues that religious boundaries between Muslims and non-Muslims were far less significant in Ottoman society than commonly believed. Furthermore, the emphasis on Islamic principles and the presence of Islamic symbols in the public domain were measures the state took to enhance its reputation and political capital - occasional discrimination of non-Muslims was only a by-product of these measures. This study sheds new light on flight and behavioral patterns in response to impending disasters by combining historical evidence with studies in social psychology and sociology. Employing an approach that mixes environmental and social history with the psychology of disasters, this work asserts that the handling of such disasters was crucial to both the rise and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, had a dream in which a tree sprouted from his navel. As the tree grew, its shade covered the earth; as Osman's empire grew, it, too, covered the earth. This is the most widely accepted foundation myth of the longest-lasting empire in the history of Islam, and offers a telling clue to its unique legacy. Underlying every aspect of the Ottoman Empire's epic history--from its founding around 1300 to its end in the twentieth century--is its successful management of natural resources. Under Osman's Tree analyzes this rich environmental history to understand the most remarkable qualities of the Ottoman Empire--its longevity, politics, economy, and society. The early modern Middle East was the world's most crucial zone of connection and interaction. Accordingly, the Ottoman Empire's many varied environments affected and were affected by global trade, climate, and disease. From down in the mud of Egypt's canals to up in the treetops of Anatolia, Alan Mikhail tackles major aspects of the Middle East's environmental history: natural resource management, climate, human and animal labor, energy, water control, disease, and politics. He also points to some of the ways in which the region's dominant religious tradition, Islam, has understood and related to the natural world. Marrying environmental and Ottoman history, Under Osman's Tree offers a bold new interpretation of the past five hundred years of Middle Eastern history.
Similarly to members of other pre-industrial and industrial societies, the subjects of the Ottoman sultans depended on the animals they raised and whether they liked it or not, certain non-domestic animals sharing their home environments had a profound impact on their lives as well. Numerous topics await discussion: quite apart from milk, yoghurt and cheese, honey was in great demand, as it was one of the principal sweeteners in a world where sweet foods were popular yet cane sugar was scarce and expensive. Bee-keeping was therefore a common activity in Anatolian, Balkan and Syrian villages. For clothing and the outfitting of dwellings, animals also were indispensable: the wool from local sheep served to make cloaks and vests of different qualities, to say nothing of the kelims and carpets that made the reputation of towns like Uşak or Gördes in western Anatolia. Animals were also the principal source of motor energy: in many places horses drove the mills where the inhabitants ground their flour. Most importantly, animals were indispensable to peasants as oxen drew the plough. Throughout Anatolia moreover, ox-drawn carts were common; and in eighteenth- and nineteenth century Istanbul, women often went to the picnic grounds surrounding the city in such conveyances, gaily decorated for the occasion. In a less peaceful vein, before the late 1700s most gunpowder was also a product of horse-driven mills. Well-to-do travellers, but also the Ottoman court and army made extensive use of horses. The sultans' rapid conquest of south-eastern and a sizeable chunk of central Europe would have been impossible without the famous cavalry of sipahis. Fine horses were a source of prestige, and expensive: to celebrate these prized possessions their owners often spent a great deal of money on saddles, saddlecloth and bridles.
Conventional scholarship on the Mediterranean portrays the Inner Sea as a timeless entity with unchanging ecological and agrarian features. But, Faruk Tabak argues, some of the "traditional" and "olden" characteristics that we attribute to it today are actually products of relatively recent developments. Locating the shifting fortunes of Mediterranean city-states and empires in patterns of long-term economic and ecological change, this study shows how the quintessential properties of the basin--the trinity of cereals, tree crops, and small livestock--were reestablished as the Mediterranean's importance in global commerce, agriculture, and politics waned. Tabak narrates this history not from the vantage point of colossal empires, but from that of the mercantile republics that played a pivotal role as empire-building city-states. His unique juxtaposition of analyses of world economic developments that flowed from the decline of these city-states and the ecological change associated with the Little Ice Age depicts large-scale, long-term social change. Integrating the story of the western and eastern Mediterranean--from Genoa and the Habsburg empire to Venice and the Ottoman and Byzantine empires--Tabak unveils the complex process of devolution and regeneration that brought about the eclipse of the Mediterranean.
The landscapes of the Middle East have captured our imaginations throughout history. Images of endless golden dunes, camel caravans, isolated desert oases, and rivers lined with palm trees have often framed written and visual representations of the region. Embedded in these portrayals is the common belief that the environment, in most places, has been deforested and desertified by centuries of misuse. It is precisely such orientalist environmental imaginaries, increasingly undermined by contemporary ecological data, that the eleven authors in this volume question. This is the first volume to critically examine culturally constructed views of the environmental history of the Middle East and suggest that they have often benefitted elites at the expense of the ecologies and the peoples of the region. The contributors expose many of the questionable policies and practices born of these environmental imaginaries and related histories that have been utilized in the region since the colonial period. They further reveal how power, in the form of development programs, notions of nationalism, and hydrological maps, for instance, relates to environmental knowledge production. Contributors: Samer Alatout, Edmund Burke III, Shaul Cohen, Diana K. Davis, Jennifer L. Derr, Leila M. Harris, Alan Mikhail, Timothy Mitchell, Priya Satia, Jeannie Sowers, and George R. Trumbull IV