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Abbasid History Podcast

Mar 1, 2024

This episode was produced by Edmund Hayes and Jouke Heringa.

Ep1. Water History and the Pre-Modern Middle East

The cities of the medieval Middle East were some of the largest in the world, dwarfing the major cities of western Europe, for example. So how did they support large populations in relatively arid conditions? In this episode we provide an overview of the kinds of hydraulic infrastructure and social institutions that allowed pre-modern Middle Eastern cities to function.

Speakers: Maaike van Berkel and Josephine van den Bent. Interviewer: Edmund Hayes.

This episode, and this series on water history and the medieval Middle East was produced by Edmund Hayes and Jouke Heringa as part of the project, “Source of Life: Water Management in the Premodern Middle East” at Radboud University. The “Source of Life” project was funded by the Dutch NWO VICI funding scheme. Additional funding for this podcast series was supplied by the Radboud Fonds of Radboud University.

Maaike van Berkel is Professor of History at Radboud University and director of the project “Source of Life: Urban Water Management in the Premodern Middle East” funded by the Dutch NWO VICI programme.

Josephine van den Bent is a researcher on the Source of Life project at Radboud University and assistant professor of Medieval History at the University of Amsterdam.

Further reading

Maaike van Berkel, “Waqf Documents on the Provision of Water in Mamluk Egypt,” in M. van Berkel, L. Buskens and P.M. Sijpesteijn (eds.), Legal Documents as Sources for the History of Muslim Societies (Brill: Leiden, 2017).

Peter Brown and Maaike van Berkel, “Water Provision in Early Islamic Cities: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Urban Water Governance,” in E Rose, M de Bruin, and R Flierman (eds) City, Citizen & Citizenship 400–1600: A Comparative Approach (Palgrave Macmillan: London, forthcoming).

Josephine van den Bent and Peter Brown, “Constructing Hydraulic Infrastructure in the Abbasid and Tulunid Capitals: Water Conduits in Baghdad, Samarra, and Cairo between the eighth and ninth centuries,” Al-Masāq, forthcoming.

Edmund Hayes,  “A Late Umayyad Reform to the Water Distribution System in the Hinterland of Damascus,” Al-Masāq, forthcoming.

Edmund Hayes

Maaike van Berkel

Josephine van den Bent

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