Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies


Studies in the Ottoman Archives—I.

Bernard Lewis

The following studies are all based on the registers of land, population, and revenue contained in the Ottoman archives in Istanbul. They will be limited to the Arabic-speaking provinces of the Ottoman Empire, and to the first century of Ottoman rule. It is not my purpose to attempt a general study of the history of these areas in this period, nor to correlate the information derived from the archives with that obtained from other sources in a comprehensive historical monograph. My aim is rather to offer a series of studies in detail in a certain class of documents and on a few special topics; that is, to make a number of soundings in depth at selected points, rather than a surface survey of this material. The topics have, as far as possible, been chosen so as to give a wide range of variety, dealing with town and country, inland and coastal areas, mountain and plain. The first two studies deal with Palestine, which of all the countries under consideration has by far the richest documentation in outside.sources, and therefore offered the most promising field for a first experimental study. This study presents in outline the picture of Palestine in the early Ottoman period that emerges from the registers, and is intended as an introduction to the material as a whole. It will be followed by a documentary study of the quarters, population, and taxation of the towns of Palestine, and then by further studies on selected rural and urban areas in Syria and Iraq.1