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Under Osman's TreeThe Ottoman Empire, Egypt, and Environmental History$
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Alan Mikhail

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226427171

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226427201.001.0001

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Silt and Empire

Silt and Empire

(p.51) 3 Silt and Empire
Under Osman's Tree

Alan Mikhail

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the history of irrigation and irrigation repairs in and around the Egyptian town of Fayyum to show how a shared reliance on natural resource management bound together extremely rural regions of the Ottoman Empire such as Fayyum with centers of power in Istanbul and Cairo. Its focus on irrigation reveals how the center-periphery model of early modern empires fails to capture the complexity of relationships that rural regions of the Ottoman Empire maintained with other provinces and towns both in the empire and beyond. Water in Fayyum grew food that forged connections of commodity movement with areas of the Mediterranean and Red Seas. Moreover, through an examination of such intraimperial and transregional ties, this chapter furthers the argument that Egyptian peasants held much of the power in these early modern relationships.

Keywords:   Fayyum, Beni Suef, Istanbul, irrigation, food production, peasants, Hijaz, center-periphery model of empire, law, imperial bureaucracy

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