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2 How to Measure Economic Growth in the Middle East? A Framework of Inquiry for the Middle Islamic Period

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Chapter Summary

In 1971, Maurice Lombard tried to establish a theoretical framework that was able to explain the economic dynamics at work in the medieval Middle East. He compared the development of a monetary economy with the growth of urban centres from the second/eighth through the fifth/eleventh centuries. The study of Bethany Walker on Mamlūk Jordan applies a different approach. Driven by research questions about Mamlūk decline, she systematically studies the rural areas of northern Jordan through an archaeological excavation in Ḥisbān, a survey of the region, chronicles and archival material. This method allows her to reconstruct the agricultural development of the region, connecting it to the regional administration, to the political center in Cairo and to the World economy at large. To measure, explain, and understand economic growth in the pre-modern period in the Middle East, it is necessary to take a systematic and multidisciplinary approach.

Keywords: Bethany Walker; economic growth; Mamlūk Jordan



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