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The rise of a capital: on the development of al-Fusṭāṭ‘s relationship with its hinterland, 18/639-132/750

This thesis studies the relationship of the town al-Fusṭāṭ, located at the southern end of the Nile delta in Egypt, and its hinterland in the period between the town’s foundation in A.D. 641 and the arrival of the Abbasids in 750.

Jelle Bruning
02 April 2014
Full text available in Leiden University Repository

Non-literary sources such as papyri and inscriptions (Arabic, Coptic, and Greek) and archaeology form the main source material of this thesis. Some topics, however, cannot be addressed but via medieval historical sources. The thesis presents four case studies: on (1) the administrative relationship between al-Fusṭāṭ and Alexandria, (2) the economic development of Alexandria after the foundation of al-Fusṭāṭ, (3) al-Fusṭāṭ’s role in the military administration of Upper Egypt, and (4) al-Fusṭāṭ and the legal administration of Upper Egypt.

This thesis’s main findings are that the relationship between al-Fusṭāṭ and the rest of Egypt before 750 developed in three main steps: (1) c. 641 until c. 661, a period in which fiscal and military aspects dominated this relationship; (2) c. 661 until c. 700, a first period of centralization (civil, military, and legal administration) coinciding with the Sufyanids’ come to power; and (3) 700 until 750, a second period of centralization (civil, legal, and economic) coinciding with the Marwanid reforms. Egypt, al-Fustat, Alexandria, capital, military, economy, law, papyrology, early Islam

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