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6 On Archives and Archaeology: Reassessing Mamlūk Rule from Documentary Sources and Jordanian Fieldwork

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is an archaeological perspective on written sources relevant to the Mamlūk period, using Jordan as the primary point of reference. It suggests ways in which textual - both documentary and narrative - research and archaeological fieldwork, can contribute to a deeper understanding of the Mamlūks' program in Jordan, of relations between state and local society, and of the general settlement history of the region. The texts examined include Mamlūk-era waqfiyyas, sharīʿa court documents, and price lists, as well as the more familiar narrative genres of the period. Waqf, the endowment of revenues from an income-producing property, most often ultimately earmarked for charitable purposes, was a key financial institution in medieval Islam. Documents generally paint a more accurate picture of the socio-economic contexts of finds, however divorced those contexts are in the texts from the broader political history and the important events of the time.

Keywords: Mamlūks' program; sharīʿa court documents; Waqf



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