An Ottoman Century

The District of Jerusalem in the 1600s

By Dror Ze'evi

Subjects: Jewish Studies
Series: SUNY series in Medieval Middle East History
Paperback : 9780791429167, 258 pages, August 1996
Hardcover : 9780791429150, 258 pages, August 1996

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Table of contents

Note on Transliteration



Chapter 1
Zooming In

The City and Its Surroundings

Chapter 2
The Rise and Fall of Local Dynasties

Chapter 3
The Sufi Connection

Jerusalem Notables in the Seventeenth Century

Chapter 4
Desert, Village and Town

A Unified Social Structure

Chapter 5
Layers of Ownership

Land and Agrarian Relations

Chapter 6
An Economy in Transition

Commerce, Crafts and Taxation

Chapter 7
Worlds Apart

Women in a Men's World





This sweeping look at the city and the District of Jerusalem in the 17th century paints a vivid picture of life in an Ottoman province.


Based on micro-level research of the District of Jerusalem, this book addresses some of the most crucial questions concerning the Ottoman empire in a time of crisis and disorientation: decline and decentralization, the rise of the notable elite, the urban-rural-pastoral nexus, agrarian relations and the encroachment of European economy. At the same time it paints a vivid picture of life in an Ottoman province. By integrating court record, petitions, chronicles and even local poetry, the book recreates a historical world that, though long vanished, has left an indelible imprint on the city of Jerusalem and its surroundings.

Dror Ze'evi is Lecturer at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.


"This is a truly outstanding book; it is very interesting, in fact, fascinating. The author effectively weaves theory with evidence from the District of Jerusalem into a smooth, convincing, and very readable narrative. The debate over the nature of the 'Islamic city' is innovative and brings the data from Jerusalem to bear on the general picture, favoring a middle-of-the-road interpretation between the 'localist' and the 'universal Islamic' views. Ze'evi's discussion of the emergence of an Ottoman-Palestinian power elite (he prefers military-governing elite) is enlightening with regard to processes that took place during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The examination of the desert-sown ecology which emerged in seventeenth-century Palestine, and the discussion of the transformation of the timar system are highly insightful and original. Another of the book's contributions is the author's review of the economic position which is very useful for debate over the peripheralization of the Ottoman Empire in the period preceding the nineteenth century." — Ehud R. Toledano, Tel-Aviv University

"Ze'evi's book is a very readable, important contribution not only to the history of Ottoman Palestine, but [also] to the understanding of the Ottoman Empire as a whole." — Mediterranean Historical Review