Politics and economics of the early Caliphate

Authored by: Fanny Bessard

Routledge Handbook on Early Islam

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138821187
eBook ISBN: 9781315743462
Adobe ISBN:


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Since Rebecca Foote’s pioneering thesis at Harvard in 1999 (see Foote 2000), the Islamic economic history has been the subject of increasing focus. The development of this discipline rested on the increase of archaeological digs in North Africa, the Middle East, Iran, and Central Asia over the last couple of decades. These field works led to the unearthing of remains of a highly sophisticated early Islamic economy, including advanced technologies in ceramic and glass-making (Freestone 1999), textile (Baginski 2001), flour and oil production (Blanc 2007), the regular use of coined money, and active trade networks. This evidence helped to cast doubt on the accuracy of the theory of economic and urban decline after the Muslim conquests that had been forged under French colonial rule in North Africa (le Tourneau 1957) and Syria (Sauvaget 1941). 1 Recently, the exploration of economic history also became less and less Eurocentric, and the contributions of the medieval Muslim empire in the growth of world trade (Norel 2004) a fashionable field of study.

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