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Dreams and Lives in Ottoman Istanbul: A Seventeenth Century Biographer’s Perspective
by Azli Niyasioglu
London: Routledge, 2016

Dreams and Lives in Ottoman Istanbul explores biography writing and dream narratives in seventeenth-century Istanbul. It focuses on the prominent biographer ‘Aṭā’ī (d. 1637) and with his help shows how learned circles narrated dreams to assess their position in the Ottoman enterprise. This book demonstrates that dreams provided biographers not only with a means to form learned communities in a politically fragile landscape but also with a medium to debate the correct career paths and social networks in late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Istanbul.


By adopting a comparative approach, this book engages with current scholarly dialogues about life-writing, dreams, and practices of remembrance in Habsburg Spain, Safavid Iran, Mughal India and Ming China. Recent studies have shown the shared rhythms between these contemporaneous dynasties and the Ottomans, and there is now a strong interest in comparative approaches to examining cultural life. This first English-language monograph on Ottoman dreamscapes addresses this interest and introduces a world where dreams changed lives, the dead appeared in broad daylight, and biographers invited their readers to the gardens of remembrance.


Globalization of Knowledge in the Post-Antique Mediterranean, 700-1500

by Sonja Brentjes, Jürgen Renn
London : Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 2016.

The contributions to this volume enter into a dialogue about the routes, modes and institutions that transferred and transformed knowledge across the late antique Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. Each contribution not only presents a different case study but also investigates a different type of question, ranging from how history-writing drew on cross-culturally constructed stories and shared sets of skills and values, to how an ancient warlord was transformed into the iconic hero of a newly created monotheistic religion. Between these two poles, the emergence of a new, knowledge-related, but market-based profession in Baghdad is discussed, alongside the long-distance transfer of texts, doctrines and values within a religious minority community from the shores of the Caspian Sea to the mountains of the southern Arabian Peninsula. The authors also investigate the outsourcing of military units and skills across religious and political boundaries, the construction of cross-cultural knowledge of the balance through networks of scholars, patrons, merchants and craftsmen, as well as differences in linguistic and pharmaceutical practices in mixed cultural environments for shared corpora of texts, drugs and plants.


Proceedings 10

The Globalization of Knowledge in the Iberian Colonial World

Helge Wendt (ed.)

The study of Islamic philosophy has entered a new and exciting phase in the last few years. Both the received canon of Islamic philosophers and the narrative of the course of Islamic philosophy are in the process of being radically questioned and revised. Most twentieth-century Western scholarship o...
Andreas WILDE

What is beyond the river?

Power, Authority, and Social Order in Transoxania 18th-19th Centuries 

ISBN 978-3-7001-7866-8
Print Edition 
ISBN 978-3-7001-8037-1
Online Edition 
Sitzungsberichte der philosophisch-historischen Klasse 877  
Veröffentlichungen zur Iranistik  80  
2016,  3 Bände mit insgesamt 1101 Seiten, 22,5x15cm, broschiert 
€  120,–   

Andreas WILDE
ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter und Assistent am Institut für Orientalistik / Lehrstuhl für Iranistik in Bamberg.  


Dieses Werk untersucht die Dialektik von Macht, Herrschaft und sozialer Ordnung in der Region Mā Warāʾ al-Nahr aus einer intrinsischen Perspektive. Die Studie basiert auf einem reichen Korpus bucharischer Primärquellen und stellt ein Stück Grundlagenforschung dar, indem es geschichtswissenschaftliche Methoden mit soziologischen Ansätzen verbindet. Das vorliegende Narrativ beginnt mit den Mongolen und Abu‘l-Khairiden und zieht sich zunächst bis ins 18. Jahrhundert und zu den späten Tuqay-Timuriden, einer Zeit, als das existierende räumlich-administrative Machtgebilde zusehends in ein Setting von usbekischen Kleinfürstentümern, tribalen Machtzentren und „Stadtstaaten“ zerfiel. Die Entwicklung findet ihren Höhepunkt mit der Konsolidierung der Dynastie der Manghiten und der kolonialen Durchdringung im 19. Jahrhundert. Der Autor erzählt die Geschichte der den zentralasiatischen Reitervölkern eigenen Weltsichten und Herrschaftspraktiken zunächst aus der Vogelperspektive. Der dynastische Fokus wird später zugunsten der Lokalgeschichte von Orten wie Nūr, Shahr-i Sabz, Tirmidh, Ḥiṣār und anderen aufgegeben, die oftmals außerhalb des tuqay-timuridischen und manghitischen Machtraumes standen und von konkurrierenden militärischen, religiösen und militärischen Netzwerken beherrscht wurden. Ein großer Teil des Buches widmet sich der semantischen Ebene der von den Chronisten verwendeten Sprache und analysiert Schlüsseltermini wie Gunst, Loyalität und Gehorsam. Letztere manifestieren sich in Patronage und Schlichtungsmechanismen sowie in der Verteilung von Geschenken. Das abschließende Kapitel basiert auf Archivdokumenten des Koshbegi-Archivs und gipfelt in einer Reihe von Mikrostudien mit Fokus auf abgelegenen Dörfern und Bewässerungssystemen. Mit dem relationalen Machtansatz trägt das Buch zum Verständnis der für die soziale Integration ausschlaggebenden Faktoren bei. Darüber hinaus verleiht es der Debatte um Macht- und Herrschaftskonzept unter Historikern und Sozialwissenschaftlern neue Impulse.

This book investigates the dialectics of power and social order in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Mā Warāʾ al-Nahr from an intrinsic perspective. Relying on a rich corpus of Bukharan primary sources, the study is a work of fundamental research that combines established traditions of social historical research and approaches borrowed from the social sciences. The resulting narrative stretches from the Mongols and Abu’l-Khairids to the eighteenth century and the late Tuqay-Timurids, when the established spatial-administrative framework crumbled into an archipelago of petty Uzbek principalities, chiefdoms and “city states,” continuing with the Manghits and finishing in the late nineteenth century with the colonial penetration. While beginning with a conventional bird’s-eye view of steppe society worldviews and established patterns of authority, the author soon abandons the sole dynastic focus and comes up with a range of local histories. The reader will be acquainted with places like Nūr, Shahr-i Sabz, Tirmidh, Ḥiṣār and other areas, which, having been dominated by competing military, religious and economic networks, remained partly outside the sphere of Tuqay-Timurid and later on Manghit authority. A large part of the book addresses the language employed in the chronicles by highlighting the semantics of key terms such as favor, loyalty or obedience. Those concepts are manifest in practices like patronage, mediation and gift exchange. Based on the materials of the Koshbegi Archive, the final part culminates in a range of micro-level studies of various socio-political domains in faraway villages and canal systems. Inspired by relational ideas of power, the analysis enhances our understanding of the factors that were decisive for social interaction in that period. Moreover, it gives fresh impulses to the debate on concepts of power and authority among historians and social scientists.




Astronomy and Calendars – The Other Chinese Mathematics 

104 BC - AD 1644 

Authors: Martzloff, Jean-Claude


Presented from the viewpoint of the history of mathematics, this book explores both epistemological aspects of Chinese traditional mathematical astronomy and lunisolar calendrical calculations. The following issues are addressed: (1) connections with non-Chinese cultural areas; (2) the possibility or impossibility of using mathematics to predict astronomical phenomena, a question that was constantly raised by the Chinese from antiquity through medieval times; (3) the modes of representation of numbers, and in particular the zero, found in the context of Chinese calendrical calculations; and (4) a detailed analysis of lunisolar calendrical calculations. Fully worked-out examples and comparisons between the results of calculations and the content of Chinese historical calendars from various periods are provided.

Traditional Chinese calendrical and mathematical astronomy consists of permanently reformed mathematical procedures designed to predict, but not explain, phenomena pertaining to astronomy and related areas. Yet, despite appearances, models of the mathematical techniques hidden behind this voluminous corpus reveal that they depend on a limited number of clear-cut mathematical structures. Although only a small fraction of these techniques have been fully studied, what is known surprisingly broadens our knowledge of the history of Chinese mathematics.

Sinologists interested in the history of Chinese science, and anyone interested in the history of Chinese mathematics, the Chinese calendar, and the history of Chinese mathematical astronomy from its origin (104 BC) to its European reform (AD 1644) will find this book very useful. The present English language edition is a fully revised and updated version of the French original. Even though this is a research monograph in sinology, no particular sinological background is required, although a basic understanding of ‘concrete mathematics’ is needed.

From the reviews of the French edition: 

This is a demanding, rigorous book to read … worth the concentrated study it requires. The rewards are not only in the details but in the general overview that …[it] provides.  Joseph Dauben, EASTM, 2011

...first Work in a Western language to turn to for anyone interested in the details of Chinese calendrical computations.  Benno Van Dalen, ISIS, 2011


Martzloff’s careful scholarship and his overall look at the calendar beyond astronomical calculations, …, make this book a most valuable contributions to a field of increasing interest. U. D’Ambrosio, Mathematical Reviews, 2013


Hussein Fancy, The Mercenary Mediterranean. Sovereignt, Religion, and Violence in the Medieval Crown of Aragon. Chicago: The University of Chacago Press, 2016.
Sometime in April 1285, five Muslim horsemen crossed from the Islamic kingdom of Granada into the realms of the Christian Crown of Aragon to meet with the king of Aragon, who showered them with gifts, including sumptuous cloth and decorative saddles, for agreeing to enter the Crown’s service.
They were not the first or only Muslim soldiers to do so. Over the course of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Christian kings of Aragon recruited thousands of foreign Muslim soldiers to serve in their armies and as members of their royal courts. Based on extensive research in Arabic, Latin, and Romance sources, The Mercenary Mediterranean explores this little-known and misunderstood history. Far from marking the triumph of toleration, Hussein Fancy argues, the alliance of Christian kings and Muslim soldiers depended on and reproduced ideas of religious difference. Their shared history represents a unique opportunity to reconsider the relation of medieval religion to politics, and to demonstrate how modern assumptions about this relationship have impeded our understanding of both past and present.
Sabine Schmidtke (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theotlogy. Oxford: OUP, 2016.
Orkan Mir-Kasimov. 2016. Words of Power: Hurufi Teachings Between Shi'ism and Sufism in Medieval Islam. London & New York: I.B. Tauris.
The Jawidan-nama-yi kabir ('Great Book of Eternity') was the magnum opus of Faḍl Allah Astarabadi (d. 796/1394) and provided the basis of the Ḥurufi movement. Today it is one of the most important known texts belonging to the mystical and messianic current that became particularly active in Iran and Anatolia following the Mongol rule. It illuminates the contemporary reconfiguration of religious and political authority along messianic and charismatic lines that took place in the Islamic East, which arguably contributed to the rise and consolidation of the Ottoman, Ṣafawid and Mughal dynasties. Words of Power is the first comprehensive study of Faḍl Allah's seminal work. Orkhan Mir-Kasimov summarises Faḍl Allah's biography, charts the history of the Ḥurufi movement, contextualises the Jawidan-nama within Islamic intellectual history, and considers its lasting impact in the Muslim world.
Johnson, Scott Fitzgerald. 2016. Literary territories: Cartographical thinking in late antiquity. Oxford University Press



Khaled El-Rouayheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century. Scholarly Currents in the Ottoman Empire and the Maghreb,  Cambridge University Press.

September 2015.

ISBN: 9781107042964


For much of the twentieth century, the intellectual life of the Ottoman and Arabic-Islamic world in the seventeenth century was ignored or mischaracterized by historians. Ottomanists typically saw the seventeenth century as marking the end of Ottoman cultural florescence, while modern Arab nationalist historians tended to see it as yet another century of intellectual darkness under Ottoman rule. This book is the first sustained effort at investigating some of the intellectual currents among Ottoman and North African scholars of the early modern period. Examining the intellectual production of the ranks of learned ulema (scholars) through close readings of various treatises, commentaries, and marginalia, Khaled El-Rouayheb argues for a more textured - and text-centered - understanding of the vibrant exchange of ideas and transmission of knowledge across a vast expanse of Ottoman-controlled territory.




Liana Saif, The Arabic Influences on Early Modern Occult Philosophy, Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic

September 2015. 

ISBN 9781137399465


The Arabic Influences on Early Modern Occult Philosophy introduces Arabic medieval astrological and magical theories formulated mainly in The Great Introduction to the Judgements of the Stars by Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi (787-886), De radiis by Ya'qub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi (801-873), and the Picatrix by Maslama al-Qurtubi (d. 964). Liana Saif investigates their influence on early modern occult philosophy, particularly the works of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494), and John Dee (1527-c. 1608). The Arabic theories of astral influences provided a naturalistic explanation of astral influences and magical efficacy based on Aristotelian notions of causality. In addition, this book explores how this causality was reconciled with astrological hermeneutics, Neoplatonic emanationism, and Platonic eschatology, thus demonstrating the complexity of early modern occult philosophy and its syncretism.




Ahmed Ragab, The Medieval Islamic Hospital. Medicine, Religion, and Charity, Cambridge University Press. September 2015.

 ISBN 9781107109605