Matthee R. (1994) For piety and pleasure, coffee and coffeehouses in Safavid Iran

August 1, 2009

Matthee, Rudi (1994) “Coffee in Safavid Iran: Commerce and Consumption”, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 37/1, 1-32.

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Despite the fact that it took place roughly at the same period, the spread of coffee consumption over the world appear to have occurred independently from the European commercial expansion (p.1). It spread during the early 16th century from Arabia through the Ottoman Empire and to Iran (p.2). The habit may have penetrated the Safavid realm via the heavily Arab-influenced southern shores. The constant wars and exchange of territories between the two empires can only have helped to spread this Turkish custom (p.5). Read the rest of this entry »

Web shopping: Newspaper article on Xinjiang’s economic history

July 15, 2009
"Police officers marching in Urumqi". Photo by Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

"Police officers marching in Urumqi". Photo by Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

If you want to know more about the historical and economic origins of Uighur’s unrest in China last weeks, here is a good article on Xinjiang’s history by Edward Wong, a New York Times journalist.

Panzac D. (1992) Maritime trade of the Ottoman Empire in the 1700s

March 4, 2009

Panzac, Daniel (1992) “International and Domestic Maritime trade in the Ottoman Empire during the 18th Century”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 24/2, 189-206.



“A glance at a map shows what an important role the sea played in the vast empire of the Ottomans in the 18th century, linking as it did the three continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa that made up the Old World. The Ottoman Empire dominated not only the eastern Mediterranean but also the major part of the southern shore of the western Mediterranean, the Black Sea-a “Turkish lake” until the 1780s-the Red Sea, and part of the Arab/Persian Gulf. Geography gave the sea a decisive role in the trade that took place in the Ottoman Empire both internationally and domestically” (p.189). Read the rest of this entry »

Pamuk Ş. (1997) In Absence of Domestic Currency

March 3, 2009

Pamuk, Şevket (1997) “In the Absence of Domestic Currency: Debased European Coinage in the Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Empire”, The Journal of Economic History, 57/2, 345-366.



“For almost two decades during the middle of the seventeenth century, French, Italian, and Dutch merchants minted in southern France, northern Italy, and elsewhere in Europe large amounts of European coinage whose specie content had been reduced to mostly copper with a thin silver coating. These coins were then transported across the Mediterranean and used as payment for Ottoman goods or even sold wholesale to local merchants and moneychangers. Initially they fetched prices far above their metal content, but these premiums declined over time with the increasing volume of trade that eventually involved hundreds of ships and close to 200 million pieces of coin. The gross revenues of the European merchants have been estimated […] somewhere between six to eight million Venetian gold ducats” (p.345). Read the rest of this entry »

Çizaka M. (1980) Europe and the desindustrialization of the Ottoman Empire

March 2, 2009

Çizakca, Murat (1980) “Price History and the Bursa Silk Industry: A Study in Ottoman Industrial Decline, 1550-1650”, The Journal of Economic History, 40/3, 533-550.



“The Ottoman Empire, which covered most of Eastern Europe and the Near East in the sixteenth century, did not escape the worldwide inflation that is generally known as the ‘price revolution’” (p.533). The price series of this article are based on the estimates made by the kadi of the Bursa court in numerous inheritance cases (p.535). Raw silk prices jumped from 73.8 akçes on average in 1550-70 to 290.4 on average in 1620-40, a 293% increase (±8.5% yearly inflation; p.536). Read the rest of this entry »

Bulut M. (2002) Dutch and Ottoman commercial interactions

March 1, 2009

Bulut, Mehmet (2002) “The Role of the Ottoman and Dutch in the Commercial Integration between the Levant and Atlantic in the Seventeenth Century”, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 45/2, 197-230.



Large trade volume and significant bullion transfer testify of the advanced integration between the Ottoman Empire and Europe in the early modern period (p.197). The discovery of the Cape route had gradually weakened the Ottoman position as Europe’s middleman, but by the end of the 16th century it remained significant (p.198). To replace the vanishing fiscal revenues, the Ottoman rulers granted trading privileges (the so-called capitulations) to European nations who were consequently attracted to the Levant ports. But these efforts were unable to limit the Rise of the West of which the commercial integration of the Levant and the Atlantic is a part (p.199). Read the rest of this entry »

Faroqhi S (1980) Ottoman overland transportation

February 28, 2009

Faroqhi, Suraiya (1982) “Camels, Wagons, and the Ottoman State in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 14/4, 523-539.



Earlier research on the subject of Ottoman transport history have emphasized the role of the state in the system. Less attention has been paid to the “material bases of overland transportation” (p.523). The main point is the competition between camels and wheeled-wagons pulled by oxen. Overland transportation was uniquely important in Anatolia  since most urban centers lacked an access to the sea. Even for port towns, the bulk of the international trade transited through land routes (p.524). Read the rest of this entry »