Anatolian Timber and Egyptian Grain: Things That Made The Ottoman Empire

Alan Mikhail

The Ottoman Empire captured Egypt and much of the Arab Middle East from the Mamluks in 1517.1 With this conquest came many spoils: a near doubling of the empire’s territory; the inclusion of Islam’s holiest sites into Ottoman domains; access to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean; strategic control of most of the eastern Mediterranean; sovereignty over some of the largest cities in the Middle East (Cairo, Aleppo, and Jerusalem); and a massive influx of money, people, and resources from these newly conquered lands. All this notwithstanding, the conquest also presented the Ottomans with many logistical and administrative challenges. The most pressing from an imperial perspective was how to rule and collect taxes over such a large and widespread area, one with many already-ensconced bureaucratic and legal traditions.2 This was a problem that the Ottomans — like all imperial states — regularly faced after the conquest and attempted absorption of new territories.

These rather conventional and routine administrative challenges aside, the Ottomans’ territorial expansion of 1517 also brought them face to face with many novel challenges they had never before encountered. One of the most important of these was a logistical problem involving the movement of two strategic goods that would prove crucial in shaping much of the empire’s rule after 1517 — wood and grain.3 Concerns surrounding these goods, especially the wood, were largely a byproduct of the Ottomans’ entrance into the Red Sea and Indian Ocean worlds.4 To benefit from — never mind to attempt to control - the lucrative commerce of the Red Sea, to challenge Portuguese power in the Indian Ocean, and to provision the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, the Ottomans needed ships in the Red Sea. To build these ships, the Ottomans needed wood? Herein lies the main problem. In and around the major Ottoman Red Sea port of Suez, there was a vital lack of useable wood supplies. For all its agricultural wealth and rich soils, Egypt simply did not have adequate domestic wood supplies to feed the growing Ottoman need for shipbuilding timbers in Suez.6 This wood thus had to be brought from elsewhere.7

This chapter tells the story of the enormous logistical and bureaucratic effort and organization the Ottomans undertook to overcome the problem of wood supply in Ottoman Suez by bringing lumber from Anatolia. To trace this story, we must follow the wood. The wood tracked in this chapter is a group of timbers that were first harvested in the forests of southwestern Anatolia and ended up being bent to shape the hulls of three ships in Suez in 1725. These vessels would eventually sail from Egypt to the Hijaz (the region on the western coast of what is today Saudi Arabia housing the cities of Mecca and Medina) carrying massive quantities of grain to feed people across the Red Sea.8 This is thus a story of provisioning — of what lengths the Ottomans were forced to go to make possible the movement of grain from Egypt to people in the Hijaz. The path taken by this amount of wood is important for what it illuminates about the economic history of the Ottoman Empire. The domestic markets of Egypt, Anatolia, Istanbul, or Suez alone were unable to either meet the demands for certain raw materials or undertake a massively complex and expensive logistical project like moving parts of a forest across the Mediterranean to Egypt and then overland to Suez. This sort of work could only be done by a political and organizational entity like the imperial administration of the Ottoman Empire. The example of these ships’ construction thus illuminates how the early modern Ottoman Empire occasionally intervened in economic affairs and market relations in different parts of the empire to affect a desired outcome such as the undertaking of a massive infrastructural or construction project.

Grain needs ships

Most of the current scholarship on Ottoman shipbuilding and timber provisioning in the Red Sea focuses on the sixteenth century.9 This was the period when the Ottomans first expanded into the Red Sea and captured parts of Yemen, Bahrain, and other sites on the Arabian Peninsula.10 This was also, and perhaps more importantly from the perspective of modern scholarship, the heyday of Ottoman-Portuguese rivalry in the Indian Ocean. Our story of wood supplying, however, comes from the first half of the eighteenth century, a full 150 years after the Ottomans supposedly lost interest in the Red Sea. As we will see, however, Ottoman stakes in the Red Sea remained quite high into the eighteenth century and focused mostly on commerce and provisioning between Egypt and the Hijaz.11

Despite Ottoman-Portuguese high-seas imperial rivalries in the sixteenth century, the most consistent, longer-lasting, and historically more significant reason the Ottomans brought wood to Suez to build ships in the early modern period was to feed people in the Hijaz and to support transport and commerce in the region. The Hijaz was of symbolic value to the Ottomans because custodianship of the holy cities allowed them to make universalistic claims of authority, leadership, and sovereignty in the Muslim world.12 With this symbolic power and religious status also came responsibilities. The yearly Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina was surely the largest annual gathering of people anywhere in the early modern world. It was an enormous undertaking in terms of logistics, transportation, and provisioning, which had to function smoothly if the Ottomans wanted to ensure respect and pliancy from the thousands of pilgrims who came to the Hijaz every year and who would then return to their homes in Hyderabad, Tehran, and Sofia with accounts of their experiences.

A crucial aspect of this maintenance of the yearly pilgrimage was providing pilgrims with adequate food supplies. Such provisioning was the historic duty of a pious and proper Muslim sovereign and was also in the practical interests of the Ottoman state so as to ensure the health and well-being of its visitors.13 Egypt came to play a central role in this system of Ottoman provisioning.14 Not only was it the largest grain-producing region in the Ottoman Empire but it was also, quite conveniently, right across the slender Red Sea from the Hijaz. Thus, throughout the imperial record of the Ottoman state, we have copious materials evidencing imperial interests in maintaining food supplies from Egypt for the yearly pilgrimage.1’ Indeed, after Istanbul, the Hijaz was the most common destination for Egyptian grains in the Ottoman period.16 Ottoman concern for food production in Egypt often took the form of imperial orders to maintain and repair irrigation works in rural Egypt, since water was obviously the key to food production in Egypt.17 For example, a series of orders sent to Egypt between 1709 and 1711 about the repair of a very important set of dams and dikes in the region of Fayyum made the point over and over again that grains grown in Egypt were to be sent to feed pilgrims in the Hijaz and that it was therefore imperative that these irrigation works function properly to grow the needed amounts of food.18 Like other regions of Egypt, almost all of Fayyum’s surplus grain supplies went to the Hijaz. Additionally, Fayyum also maintained its status as a major exporter of grain to the Hijaz because of the many pious endowments (awqaf) for the holy cities established in the region and throughout Upper Egypt more generally. The chief function of these Upper Egyptian endowments attached to the Hijaz was to provide grains for both the pilgrimage caravan and for the people of Mecca and Medina.19

The food grown in Fayyum and in numerous other regions in Egypt would eventually make its way to Suez to await shipment to the Hijaz. While Fayyum had always sent the majority of its export grain to Suez rather than to any other port, during the fifteenth century, just a few years before the Ottomans conquered Egypt, Suez became even more important than Egypt’s southern ports (Qusayr and Aydab most prominently) as the main hub of export from the province to the Hijaz. This was chiefly due to shifts in agricultural cultivation in the period that saw the Delta emerge as Egypt’s richest area of food production.20 Whether grown in soils in Fayyum or elsewhere in rural Egypt, once food was in Suez, it could only, quite obviously, continue its journey across the sea by ship. And for much of the Ottoman period, ships were readily available. Quite often, though, there were none to be had in Suez either because of disrepair, shipwreck, or needs elsewhere.21 Such was the case in the spring of 1725 when the Ottomans had plenty of food in Suez to send to the Hijaz, but no ships to get it there.

Ships need wood

A series of cases from the archival record of Ottoman Egypt brings to life the complicated procedures involved in delivering wood to Egypt from forests in southwestern Anatolia to build three galettas (kalite) in Suez (Figure 14.1).“ Wood was a strategic asset for the empire.23 This was partly a function of the fact that it was available only in a few specific regions within the empire’s borders (on parts of the southern Anatolian coast, around sections of the Black Sea littoral, and in Greater Syria).24 The Ottoman Empire therefore came to manage wood supplies and their distribution and movement very closely.25 Trees in the Ottoman Empire thus came to be controlled by the logic of the state rather than by the market. Wood - and for that matter food as well - entered into an imperial chain of demand, need, and availability in which the deficiencies of one region were met by the excesses of others. In the same way that the Hijaz relied on Egypt for food, Egypt relied on other parts of the Ottoman Empire for wood. The rather complicated procedures for bringing wood to Egypt were thus Ottoman attempts to project imperial sovereignty through the management of an essential resource needed to move excess amounts of caloric energy stored in grain to be consumed elsewhere by - in this case — pilgrims from all over the Muslim world. Integral to this resource management was the fact that within the Ottoman world, it was only the imperial state itself that could undertake such a project.

Wood in the Ottoman Empire was harvested in the forests of southwestern Anatolia and parts of the southern Black Sea coast every three to four years by peasants in those areas who were hired by the Ottoman state as temporary laborers. They worked for an entire season to cut trees and to transport them to imperial storage facilities in Istanbul.26 The organization of this labor was overseen by the kereste emini (timber superintendent), who was an official in the department of the Imperial Dockyards (Tersane-i Amire), the official body responsible for the collection of wood in the empire and the institution that would store the timber for later use and distribution.27 The kereste enuni managed a veritable army of laborers (atnele) in the work of cutting and moving trees.28 Various military cadres (yaya, miisellem, yortik, canbaz) and specialized craftsmen (neccar, teksinarci, kalajatfi) worked to turn trees into useable wood supplies.29 Both southwestern Anatolia and the Black Sea coast were particularly good regions for timber harvest because of their extensive forest cover and proximity to coastlines.30 Since these trees were primarily harvested for the construction of Ottoman naval ships, it made sense that the administration of the Ottoman Imperial Dockyards oversaw forest management in the empire.

Often, these trees were moved to Istanbul on merchant ships rented by the state. In the case of southwestern Anatolia, for example, numerous orders were sent to the imperial governor of the island of Rhodes to organize the renting of these ships, as this region was under his administrative purview (Figure 14.2). Given the relatively high number of orders sent to this imperial

Map of timber transport traced in this chapter

Figure 14.1 Map of timber transport traced in this chapter.

Source: Made by Stacey D. Maples, 2012.

Anatolian timber and Egyptian grain 349

Ottoman Rhodes

Figure 14.2 Ottoman Rhodes.

Source: “Ottoman Rhodes,” Piri Reis, Kitabi Bahriye (Istanbul: Devlet Basimevi, 1935).

governor in the late 1710s and early 1720s, it seems likely that most of the trees going to Istanbul’s timber storage facilities in these years were coming from southwestern Anatolia.31 The important point about the empire’s timber storage facilities is that they represented an attempt to monopolize the supply and control of wood as a strategic good. Other efforts at forest

Anatolian timber and Egyptian grain 351 management included designating the vast majority of forests in the Ottoman Empire as having official (miri) status and promulgating numerous regulations forbidding the cutting of their trees and grazing, building, or hunting in imperial woodlands without the proper permissions.32 By attempting to control the use of forests and by centralizing the distribution of the empire’s trees in the Imperial Dockyards, an institution literally at the base of the palace, the Sultan could control how this wood was used and what projects it supported.33

In the cases from 1725, the palace directed that wood - again, wood mostly likely originating in southwestern Anatolia — be sent from the central Ottoman timber distribution facility in Istanbul to Alexandria on the Egyptian Mediterranean coast.34 As in many instances of moving wood from parts of the Anatolian coast to Istanbul, merchant galleys (tiiccar sefineleri) were rented to assist a group of imperial {miri) ships in moving this wood from the capital to Alexandria.35 Alexandria was central to Ottoman interests in the early modern eastern Mediterranean.36 It was used as an Ottoman naval base for various operations around the sea. Ships from Alexandria, for example, supported Ottoman military expeditions to Chios in 1566, Malta in 1575, and Crete in 1666 and 1715. The port was also crucial as a controlling hinge of trade between the Mediterranean and Red Sea and Indian Ocean.37 An enormous amount of the goods coming from the Indian Ocean via ship eventually made their way to Alexandria overland from Suez to be put on ships sailing to points across the Mediterranean world (essentially the opposite direction of the wood in our case).38 Because of its military and economic importance, the Ottomans paid particularly close attention to the administration of Alexandria through a customs regime, legal and economic regulations, and a military presence.

The leg of the wood’s journey from Istanbul to Alexandria was the longest (in terms of distance) of its entire itinerary from seed to ship hull.39 It was also the most dangerous because of the Mediterranean’s rough waters, threats of piracy, and various other possibilities for damage to the precious cargo. Piracy was a foremost concern of the Ottomans in the Mediterranean, and they undertook various measures over the years to try to combat it.40 However difficult it might be for us to imagine, we must not underestimate the scale of moving such an amount of wood across the Mediterranean. Likely hundreds of very large logs that each required a dozen or so men to move were put on enormous ships and then sailed for hundreds of miles over the course of a fortnight or so, only to be taken off of those ships in another gigantic operation. There is indeed evidence of a floating crane in use in the port of Alexandria in the first half of the eighteenth century to aid in the loading and unloading of cargo and also to help in the repair of ships in port.41 The merchant galleys that were rented to move this wood across the Mediterranean were obviously very large ships and had to be stable enough to deal with the treacheries of open sea. These ships and their captains were accustomed to this journey, as they were the ones who most often moved grains, textiles, finished goods, foodstuffs, and other products between the empire’s most lucrative province and its capital. And like these other items, the wood in 1725 was entered into the customs registers of Alexandria, a requirement of all cargo entering Egypt from the Mediterranean.42

Once this wood had made it safely to Alexandria and had been adequately registered by the state, it had to be moved to yet another set of ships. This transfer was necessitated by concerns of both geography and technology. Getting to Suez from Alexandria — there was of course no Suez Canal in 1725 — required sailing down the Nile into the interior of Egypt.43 In the early eighteenth century, however, there was no internal waterway connecting Alexandria to the Nile.44 Thus, from Alexandria, ships had to sail east along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast to enter the Nile system either at Rosetta or Damietta, the two branches of the river forming the Nile Delta. Unless prevented by rough waters, a storm, shipwreck, or some other impediment, almost all ships from Alexandria entered the Nile through the Rosetta branch because of its proximity to Egypt’s second city. Although the enormous galleys that brought the massive load of wood from Istanbul to Egypt were extremely good at navigating the Mediterranean’s rough seas, they were less well suited to sailing on smaller, narrower, and curvier bodies of water like the Nile. Thus, to overcome this navigational limitation, the wood in our case, like all cargo following this path, was transferred to a set of smaller, more compact and more nimble ships known as cerint.43 As with each of the transfers in this wood’s journey, this one required great care, patience, and effort to move the wood and to protect it against damage and theft. Furthermore, as with some of the galleys that crossed the Mediterranean, these smaller ships were also rented by the Ottoman administration from merchants in the area.46

Now on the appropriate type of vessel, the wood sailed east, hugging the Egyptian coast, toward the mouth of the Rosetta branch of the Nile. Late summer and early fall were especially difficult times to enter the Rosetta mouth because of prevailing winds blowing out to sea and because of the force of the Nile’s water near the end of the flood season pushing out to sea.47 The certm ships in our case were, however, sailing in spring, so they had little trouble entering the mouth of the river’s western branch. The wood’s next stop was, perhaps not surprisingly, Cairo, specifically the area just to the north of the city known as Bulaq, Cairo’s main economic port and commercial district.48 Because of the unique economic status of wood as a commodity in the Ottoman Empire and because the timber in our case had already been earmarked by the state for a specific purpose, it did not enter into the business transactions that made Bulaq a hub of economic life in Egypt and the Mediterranean. The wood was noted but not traded. Instead, as before, it was transferred one last time to complete its journey to Suez.

This transfer was once again affected by Egypt’s geography. For the entire journey until Cairo - from the forests to Istanbul, Istanbul to Alexandria, and Alexandria to Bulaq — the wood moved on water. Indeed, it was of the

Anatolian timber and Egyptian grain 353 utmost importance to maximize the geographic distance traversed on water since this was clearly the easiest, cheapest, and most efficient means of moving such a heavy, unwieldy, and large quantity of wood. Between Bulaq and Suez, however, there was no waterway, only 80 miles of desert. Faced with no other option to get the wood to Suez (again, here as well, there was no canal), Ottoman authorities overseeing the project and the Egyptians they enlisted to help them arranged for the trickiest, most expensive, most complex, and most arduous part of the wood’s journey. In Bulaq, they hired a convoy of camels to pull the wood through the desert.49 Without the possibility of using ships to take advantage of water and wind power, camels were harnessed as the next best energy source affording the necessary power and stamina to move this load overland.50

The use of these camels, however, did not come cheap. The cost of renting the animals and of paying those who would load and unload the wood and lead the animals through the desert was the significant sum of 800 nisf fidda (or para) — 450 para for the men and 350 para for the camels.51 As further evidence of the cost of animal labor in transport, consider that in a list of 46 expenses related to the pilgrimage of the year 1696 (the closest year to 1725 for which we have such figures), we find that animal labor represented nearly 10 per cent of the total expended from the treasury of Egypt on the pilgrimage in that year - the impressive sum of 1 million para.52 In the same way that historians have given much attention to the use of ships, navigation tools, and knowledge in the maritime commerce of the early modern period, so too must we recognize the importance of animals as means of transport, power, communication, commerce, and travel in the early modern world. The power, speed, and stamina provided by camels, water buf-faloes, donkeys, and other animals in the Ottoman Empire made possible commercial relations, imperial governance, and agricultural production.53 As the camels in this case show, animals — like wood — were vital commodities that allowed the state to accomplish and undertake tasks it could not do otherwise.54 Historians estimate that camels in the Ottoman Empire could carry a quarter-ton of weight for about 15 miles a day, 20 per cent more than horses and mules and over three times more than donkeys.33 Accepting this estimate and giving some leeway to the enormous load of wood in our case, it likely took the camels and their handlers about a week to cross the desert from Cairo to Suez.

The wood had finally reached Suez. Now that it had moved from Istanbul across the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, the work of actually building the ships needed to move food from Egypt to the Hijaz — the ultimate goal of this project, lest we have forgotten — could finally begin.36 The journey of this wood from southwestern Anatolia, to Istanbul, to Suez, through Alexandria, Rosetta, and Cairo was long, inefficient, and difficult for numerous reasons. Even if the construction of ships in Suez was an urgent matter, it would surely take at least several weeks as in this case (or perhaps longer) before the construction materials even arrived. And, of course, this was only the first step, since it would take anywhere from another six months to two years to complete construction of the ships in port, depending on the size of the ships, the number of available laborers, unforeseen problems with the work, and other contingencies.

Another obvious problem with the wood’s transport was the multiple transfers it required. Wood was packed from the royal dockyards onto ships in Istanbul, sailed to Alexandria, was then transferred to another kind of ship, sailed to Cairo via Rosetta, was packed onto the backs of camels, dragged through the desert, and was only then finally unloaded in Suez to be used for its ultimate purpose of ship construction. All of these transfers, especially the overland leg between Bulaq and Suez, exposed this lumber to damage and theft. The wood could have been dropped, lost, chipped, stolen, or damaged in any number of ways. And, of course, the wood’s transport involved great financial expense: the price of ships and sailors, customs duties, camels and camel drivers, food for sailors, and so on. Despite these difficulties and costs, however, the Ottoman imperial bureaucracy had few alternatives.57 If the goal was the construction of ships in Suez, then wood was needed, and since Egypt had no wood, it had to be brought from elsewhere. These were the realities and costs of the absence of forests in Egypt.

Economy needs state

The story of the construction of these three ships in Suez in 1725 reveals an important dimension of how certain kinds of economic resources were utilized in the Ottoman Empire. No individual, collective organization, or corporate entity in the empire could have built these ships; only the state was capable of undertaking such a project. When I use the word ‘state’ in this context, I do not mean merely the Sultan’s imperial divan. Rather, I understand the state to be the entire bureaucratic apparatus of the imperial administration, which included merchants who rented their ships to the empire, temporary forest workers hired by the Imperial Dockyards, camels used to pull wood through the desert, and shipbuilders in Suez. A project of the scale and cost involved in this case, employing so many different kinds of people in such disparate parts of the empire, could only be coordinated through imperial mechanisms — a centralized wood depot, a court system that facilitated communication across the Mediterranean, a bureaucracy with access to large amounts of cash and capital, and a network of merchants and craftsmen who knew that their goods and labor would be compensated.

By understanding what the empire could do that nothing else could, we gain a clearer understanding of what an often-vague notion of ‘the empire’ was at the most basic level on the ground in a place like Egypt. The Ottoman Empire was an economic mechanism for coordinating resource management that provided the materials, finances, and organization to, among other things, build ships in Suez. Again, without this political and economic administration, no other entity in Egypt, or anywhere else in the empire, could have effected the construction of these ships. This fact stands in the face of several important assumptions about the empire in this period and thus helps us understand something of Ottoman imperial governance in the first half of the eighteenth century.

First, it has long been assumed that after the seventeenth century, the Ottoman imperial administration largely gave up any attempts to control economic affairs or to directly intervene in the economy?8 Price ceilings (narh) are the classic example cited in this regard. The empire did away with them at the end of the sixteenth century, and they reemerged only much later in the last two decades of the eighteenth century. The present case of the three ships, however, shows the intense involvement of the state - again, in its most capacious meaning — in market relations, resource management, and transportation networks. This shipbuilding in 1725 was, in other words, an instance of Ottoman economic interventionism. The physical resources of the market, its transportation capacities, and its available labor could not provide the wood and muscle needed to build the three ships. Thus, the state had to intervene to provide and then manage these resources.59

This case also shows us that the Ottoman state in the first half of the eighteenth century was still able to influence, impact, and administer areas at some distance from the capital. Historians of Egypt and of elsewhere in the empire have traditionally assumed that Istanbul largely pulled back from the provinces in the eighteenth century and was not able to provision its army and other vital organs of the state.60 In the present case, by contrast, the state clearly comes through as an actor of enormous economic and organizational wherewithal. Importantly, as well, much of the administration of resources that took place in this case was at the very edges of the empire — not in the empire’s largest cities and, indeed, at some of the furthest points from imperial nodes of power like Istanbul and Cairo. According to much of the existing literature, southwestern Anatolia and Suez would have been the kinds of places where one might expect the imperial presence in the eighteenth century to have been rather weak, but, again, just the opposite seems to have been the case. Commodity histories thus open up new possibilities for understanding the geography and function of Ottoman imperial governance. As the cases of wood and grain show, commodity acquisition, transport, and utilization created multiple kinds of linkages and connections that are otherwise difficult to trace. Following a material object, in other words, usefully allows us to push beyond established ways of thinking about the inner workings of early modern polities like the Ottoman Empire.

Finally, the building of these three ships is a wonderful example of the involvement of local actors in the day-to-day governance and operation of the empire. At every point in the journeys of both the grain and the wood to Suez, and then eventually to the Hijaz, it was peasants, small-scale actors, and local merchants, sailors, and laborers who directed the state how best to successfully meet its goals. Lumberjacks in the mountains of southwestern Anatolia knew the forests in their area better than anyone else and provided the expertise, knowledge, and experience the state needed to effectively manage and harvest wood. Likewise, sailors on the Mediterranean, who knew the best sea lanes and how to control their ships, brought the wood to Egypt. Camel drivers and their animals moved the wood across the desert, and established local shipbuilders in Suez were the ones who finally put the boats together. It was the unity and coordination of the Ottoman state that brought all these disparate actors together for the goal of building the ships. At no point in this process, however, were Ottoman imperial bureaucrats the ones actually carrying the wood, hammering the nails, and pulling the camels. Indeed, clearly, the imperial administration could not have done any of this without the participation of local actors in the workings of the state.

This fact was in large part a function of the necessities and difficulties of managing and utilizing local environments and resources - forests, soils, the heat of the desert, and the flow of the river. Each of these particular environments and ecological forces demanded specific local knowledge, experience, and expertise, and the Ottomans relied on locals to help them operate in and use these natural environments, since this was the most expedient, sustainable, and efficient means of harnessing environmental resources and expertise. Thus, it was the collective knowledge and experience of local actors all across the empire that allowed the imperial state to function. At the same time, though, it was the connective administrative and economic links of the empire that tied the labor of lumberjacks in southwestern Anatolia to that of camel drivers in eastern Egypt. Neither the knowhow and experience of local actors nor the administrative acumen and integrative powers of the Ottoman administration alone, without the participation of the other, could have moved wood to Suez or, more generally, managed natural resources in the empire. This was thus a commodity utilization chain of local labor and knowledge, linked together across the Mediterranean, from one continent to another, by the Ottoman imperial administration.

State needs nature

Wood was not like any other commodity in the empire. Its scarcity and strategic value dictated much of the way the state came to manage it, and many of the economic relationships forged around it. The only useable supplies of forest in the empire were in areas of southern Anatolia, around the Black Sea coast, and in Greater Syria, and the state, as already mentioned, put in place a very sophisticated forestry management system to maintain these woodlands. As with almost all natural resources, much of wood’s value in the Ottoman Empire came not from human labor but from the solar energy of the sun, nutrients in the soil, and copious amounts of water. Thus, in contrast to the traditional labor theory of value, which posits that the value of most goods is a reflection of the work humans do to produce objects for the market, much (or perhaps most) of the utility and value of the Ottoman Empire’s wood came from nonhuman nature. Clearly, human labor and energy went into the

Anatolian timber and Egyptian grain 357 cutting, transport, and readying of wood for use in Suez over 500 miles away from its original growth site, but no amount of human labor, knowledge, or effort in Anatolia could produce the strong, durable, and desirable lumber that trees provided in Egypt. As William Cronon writes in reference to the American West:

the fertility of the prairie soils and the abundance of the northern forests had far less to do with human labor than with autonomous ecological processes that people exploited on behalf of the human realm - a realm less of production than of consumption.1'1

One could make similar arguments about other natural commodities - grains or animals for example — but the case of wood nevertheless still stands out. Unlike, say, a field of wheat, a region of old growth forests would take decades, if not centuries, to reproduce itself once harvested. This is a timescale unsuited to most human endeavors.

Thus, because the use of wood was essentially a process of the relatively irreversible consumption of natural resources, the Ottoman Empire was in many ways forced to centrally manage its forest supplies if it wanted to maintain them in any kind of long-term fashion. In other words, were market forces and personal interest allowed to have free reign in how forests were used, trees would be consumed very quickly, to the detriment of populations around the empire and future populations alike. This is exactly what happened in the Great Lakes region of North America studied by Cronon. Other evidence from Ottoman Egypt further suggests the uniqueness of wood as a commodity. For example, an examination of estate inventories from the period shows that wood products were some of the most expensive items individuals owned in rural Egypt.62 This high value of wood was again a reflection of its scarcity in Egypt.


Egyptian shipbuilders, camel drivers, and peasant cultivators, along with religious pilgrims from across the early modern Muslim world - all of whom had never seen Anatolia nor likely ever heard of the place — affected its history in massively important ways. As forests were cut, ecosystems were altered or destroyed, soil fertilities depleted, and animal habitats forever transformed. What do these connections between Egyptians, pious pilgrims in the Hijaz, and Anatolian forests mean for our understanding both of the environmental history of the Ottoman Empire and of the ways that the specific characteristics of certain commodities shaped that history?

First, they suggest that the imperial calculus of the Ottoman state deemed certain natural resources and environments to be more important than others. Egypt, a place of great agricultural potential — one that helped maintain food supplies and Ottoman legitimacy in the Hijaz and elsewhere — was clearly, from both an Ottoman and a local Egyptian perspective, worth the alteration and consumption of other natural landscapes to provide the Nile valley with the materials needed to achieve this rich agricultural potential and to move the products of this potential to other parts of the empire. Thus, knowingly or not — most likely not - Egyptians participated in the consumption of large sections of Anatolian forest as they worked to construct ships to move food from Egypt to the Hijaz. These histories of Anatolian forests, of the Egyptian countryside, of the sustenance of pilgrims in the Hijaz, and of Ottoman imperial administration must therefore all be taken together as parts of a single process of the coordinated and connected consumption and use of nature.

Furthermore, from the imperial perspective of the Ottoman government in Istanbul and Cairo, connecting Anatolia to Egypt made perfect sense. These connections allowed the Ottoman Empire to shift a region’s excess resources to places where that excess could fill a vital need that would eventually allow Egypt to grow food to feed people in yet other places. One can easily conceive of a process, then, whereby the Ottoman bureaucracy surveyed the empire, moving different pieces around to achieve an optimal configuration of rule. Lumber went to Egypt both for shipbuilding and irrigation purposes, thereby making possible the movement of grains and other foodstuffs to Mecca and Medina (and also Istanbul and other population centers in the empire). The imperial administration was thus essentially turning Anatolian trees into caloric energy for human stomachs in the Hijaz. By concentrating the labor, skill, and expertise found in certain areas of the empire on the production (or consumption) of natural resource commodities like lumber or grain, the Ottoman Empire was consequently able to increase its overall levels of agricultural and economic productivity. For this system to work most efficiently, transportation networks - as we have seen in some detail - had to move goods quickly and with a minimal amount of energy loss. The imperial system also had to rely upon and connect the actions and expertise of hundreds of actors across three continents and two seas. Above all, this system of environmental comparative advantage and natural resource management was governed through an imperial administration that coordinated a vast system of local knowledge, autonomy, and action.


1 On the Ottoman—Mamluk confrontation and the conquest of Egypt, see Andrew C. Hess, ‘The Ottoman Conquest of Egypt (1517) and the Beginning of the Sixteenth-Century World War,’ International Journal of Middle East Studies 4 (1973): 55—76; Emire Cihan Muslu, ‘Ottoman—Mamluk Relations: Diplomacy and Perceptions’ (PhD diss., Harvard University, 2007); Jean-Louis Bacqué-Grammont and Anne Kroell, Mamlouks, ottomans et portugais en Mer Rouge: l’affaire de Djedda en 1517 (Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 1988); Michel M. Mazzaoui, ‘Global Policies of Sultan Selim, 1512—1520,’ in Essays on Islamic Civilization: Presented to Niyazi Berkes, ed. Donald P. Little (Leiden: Brill, 1976), 224—243; Michael Winter, Egyptian Society Under Ottoman Rule, 1517—1798 (London: Routledge, 1992), 1—17.

  • 2 On the specific case of Ottoman rule in Egypt, see Winter, Egyptian Society tinder Ottoman Rule; Stanford}. Shaw, The Financial and Administrative Organization and Development of Ottoman Egypt, 1517—1798 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1962); Layla ‘Abd al-Latlf Ahmad, al-Idâra ft Misrfi al-Asr al-'Uthmant (Cairo: Matba'at Jami'at ‘Ayn Shams, 1978); idem, al-Mujtama‘ al-Misrîft al-Asr al-‘Uthmânï (Cairo: Dâr al-Kitâb al-Jâmi‘l, 1987); idem, Târîkh wa Mii’arrikhî Misr wa al-Shâm ibbâna al-Asr al-‘Uthmânî (Cairo: Maktabat al-Khânjï, 1980); ‘Iraqi Yûsif Muhammad, al-Wujüd al-‘Uthmânî fl Misr Jï al-Qarnayn al-Sâdis Ashar wa al-Sâbi‘ Ashar (Dirâsa Wathâ’iqiyya), vol. 1 (Cairo: Markaz Kliyûbâtrâ lil-Kumbiyûtar, 1996); idem, al-Wujüd al-‘Uthmânî al-Mamlükîfï Misrfî al-Qarn al-Thâmin Ashar wa Awâ’il al-Qarn al-Tâsi‘ Ashar (Cairo: Dâr al-Ma‘ârif, 1985); André Raymond, Artisans et commerçants au Caire au XVIIIe siècle, 2 vols. (Damascus: Institut français de Damas, 1973).
  • 3 This study necessarily builds upon a rich literature on material culture and the role of commodities in Ottoman history. Coffee, tulips, textiles, food, soap, and clothing are some of the material goods Ottoman historians have usefully studied. As even this partial list shows, the main focus of work on Ottoman material culture has been on luxury items used and consumed by mostly urban elites. This chapter takes a different tack, seeking to expand our knowledge of Ottoman objects by shifting attention to things whose histories are mostly rural and whose consumption and use were more about supporting the logistical function of the empire than they were about leisure or projecting status or wealth. For illuminating studies of Ottoman material culture, see for example: Donald Quataert, ed., Consumption Studies and the History of the Ottoman Empire, 1550-1922: An Introduction (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000); Suraiya Faroqhi, Towns and Townsmen in Ottoman Anatolia: Trade, Crafts, and Food Production in an Urban Setting, 1520—1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984); Dana Sajdi, ed., Ottoman Tulips, Ottoman Coffee: Leisure and Lifestyle in the Eighteenth Century (London: I. B. Tauris, 2007); Amy Singer, ed., Starting with Food: Culinary Approaches to Ottoman History (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2011); Suraiya Faroqhi and Christoph K. Neumann, eds., Ottoman Costumes: From Textile to Identity (Istanbul: Eren, 2004); James Grehan, Everyday Life and Consumer Culture in 18th-Century Damascus (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007).
  • 4 Generally, on the Ottomans in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, see Salih Ozbaran, Ottoman Expansion towards the Indian Ocean in the 16th Century (Istanbul: Bilgi University Press, 2009); idem, The Ottoman Response to European Expansion: Studies on Ottoman-Portuguese Relations in the Indian Ocean and Ottoman Administration in the Arab Lands during the Sixteenth Century (Istanbul: Isis Press, 1994); idem, ‘A Turkish Report on the Red Sea and the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean (1525),’ Arabian Studies 4 (1978): 81—88; idem, ‘Ottoman Naval Power in the Indian Ocean in the 16th Century,’ in The Kapudan Pasha, His Office and His Domain: Halcyon Days in Crete IV, ed. Elizabeth Zachariadou (Rethymnon: Crete University Press, 2Ô02), 109—117; Giancarlo Casale, The Ottoman Age of Exploration (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); idem, ‘The Ottoman Administration of the Spice Trade in the Sixteenth-Century Red Sea and Persian Gulf’ Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 49 (2006): 170—198; Bacqué-Grammont and Kroell, Mamlouks, ottomans et portugais; Anthony Reid, ‘Sixteenth-Century Turkish Influence in Western Indonesia,’ Journal of South East Asian History 10 (1969): 395—414; Michel Tuchscherer, ‘La flotte impériale de Suez de 1694 à 1719,’ Turcica 29 (1997): 47—69.
  • 5 On the problem of wood for Ottoman naval construction, see Palmira Brummett, Ottoman Seapower and Levantine Diplomacy in the Age of Discovery (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994), 96, 115—116, 144, 174; Idris Bostan, Osmanh Bahriye Teykilâtt: XVII. Yiizyilda Tersdne-i Amire (Ankara: Turk Tarih

Kurumu Basimevi, 1992), 102—118; Casale, Ottoman Age of Exploration, 201—202; Colin H. Imber, ‘The Navy ofSiileiman the Magnificent,’ Archivum Ottomanicum 6 (1980): 211—282; Murat Çizakça, ‘Ottomans and the Mediterranean: An Analysis of the Ottoman Shipbuilding Industry as Reflected by the Arsenal Registers of Istanbul, 1529—1650,’ in Le Genti del Mare Mediterráneo, ed. Rosalba Ragosta, 2 vols. (Naples: Lucio Pironti, 1981), 773—789; Svat Soucek, ‘Certain Types of Ships in Ottoman-Turkish Terminology,’ Turcica 7 (1975): 233—249. For a useful comparative study of this problematic in early modern Venice, see Karl Appuhn, A Forest on the Sea: Environmental Expertise in Renaissance Venice (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009).

  • 6 On the tension between Egypt’s relative agricultural wealth and its dearth of domestic wood supplies, see Alan Mikhail, Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt: An Environmental History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 82—169.
  • 7 Egypt’s lack of wood, though a new problem for the Ottomans, was one that had been faced by all political powers who ruled it since antiquity. Roger S. Bagnall, Egypt in Late Antiquity (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), 41; Russell Meiggs, Trees and Timber in the Ancient Mediterranean World (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), 57—68; John Perlin, A ForestJourney: The Story of Wood and Civilization (Wood-stock: Countryman Press, 2005), 131—134; J. V. Thirgood, Man and the Mediterranean Forest: A History of Resource Depletion (London: Academic Press, 1981), 87—94.
  • 8 On connections between Egypt and the Hijaz in the Ottoman period, see Suraiya Faroqhi, ‘Trade Controls, Provisioning Policies, and Donations: The Egypt-Hijaz Connection during the Second Half of the Sixteenth Century,’ in Suleyman the Second and His Time, ed. Halil Inalcik and Cental Kafadar (Istanbul: Isis Press, 1993), 131—143; idem, ‘Red Sea Trade and Communications as Observed by Evliya Çelebi (1671—72),’ New Perspectives on Turkey 5—6 (1991): 87—105; idem, ‘Coffee and Spices: Official Ottoman Reactions to Egyptian Trade in the Later Sixteenth Century,’ Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 7b (1986): 87—93; Michel Tuchscherer, ‘Commerce et production du café en Mer Rouge au X Vie siècle,’ in Le commerce du café avant Père des plantations coloniales: espaces, réseaux, sociétés (XVe-XIXe siècle), ed. idem (Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 2001), 69—90; Husâm Muhammad ‘Abd al-Mu‘tî, al-Alâqât al-Misriyya al-Hijâziyya fï al-Qarn al-Thâmin Ashar (Cairo: al-Hay’a al-Misriyya al-‘Àmma lil— Kitâb, 1999); Colin Heywood, ‘A Red Sea Shipping Register of the 1670s for the Supply of Foodstuffs from Egyptian Wakf Sources to Mecca and Medina (Turkish Documents from the Archive of‘Abdurrahman “Abdi” Pasha of Buda, I),’ Anatolia Moderna 6 (1996): 111-174.
  • 9 Ozbaran, Ottoman Expansion, 77—80; Brummett, Ottoman Seapoiver and Levantine Diplomacy, 96, 115—116, 144, 174; Casale, Ottoman Age of Exploration, 201— 202. On forestry and Ottoman shipbuilding in the Mediterranean, see Çizakça, ‘Ottomans and the Mediterranean.’
  • 10 On the Ottomans in various parts of the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf, see Salih Ozbaran, ‘Bahrain in 1559: A Narrative of Turco-Portuguese Conflict in the Gulf,’ Osmanh Arajtirmalan 3 (1982): 91—104; idem, Yemen’den Basra’ya Stntrdaki Osmanh (Istanbul: Kitap Yayinevi, 2004); idem, ‘The Ottoman Turks and the Portuguese in the Persian Gulf, 1534—1581,’ Journal of Asian History 6 (1972): 45—88; Jan E. Mandaville, ‘The Ottoman Province of Al-Hasâ in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,’ Journal of the American Oriental Society 90 (1970): 486—513; Casale, Ottoman Age of Exploration, 63—65; Patricia Risso, ‘Cross-Cultural Perceptions of Piracy: Maritime Violence in the Western Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf Region during a Long Eighteenth Century,’ Journal of World History 12 (2001): 293—319; idem, ‘Muslim Identity in Maritime Trade: General Observations and Some Evidence from the 18th Century Persian Gulf/In-dian Ocean Region,’ International Journal of Middle East Studies 21 (1989): 381—392.

‘Abd al-Mu‘tî, al-Alâqât al-Misriyya al-Hijaziyya; Alan Mikhail, ‘An Irrigated Empire: The View from Ottoman Fayyum,’ International Journal of Middle East Studies 42 (2010), 569-578.

Suraiya Faroqhi, Pilgrims and Sultans: The Hajj under the Ottomans (London: I. B. Tauris, 1994).

Although there is little direct evidence from the early modern period about the role of the pilgrimage in the spread of disease, there are numerous examples from the end of the nineteenth century about the diffusion of cholera resulting from the pilgrimage. One can only imagine that similar situations existed in earlier centuries as well. For the late nineteenth-century examples, see LaVerne Kuhnke, Lives at Risk: Public Health in Nineteenth-Century Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 95, 107—108; J. R. McNeill, Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century IVorld (New York: W. W. Norton, 2000), 196.

On the Ottoman provisioning of the pilgrimage from Egypt, see Mikhail, Nature and Empire, 113—122.

See for example: Prime Ministry’s Ottoman Archive (Bajbakanhk Osmanli Arjivi; hereafter BOA), Miihimme-i Misir (hereafter MM), 3: 210 (Evail S 1133/27 May—5 Jun. 1721); BOA, Hatt-i Hiimayun (hereafter HAT), 29/1358 (29 Z 1197/24 Nov. 1783); BOA, HAT, 28/1354 (7 Za 1198/22 Sep. 1784); BOA, HAT, 26/1256 (10 Za 1200/3 Sep. 1786). There is no internal evidence for the date of this final case. The date given is the one assigned by the BOA. Topkapi Palace Museum Archive (Topkapi Sarayi Müzesi Arçivi; hereafter TSMA), E. 3218 (n.d.); TSMA, E. 5657 (13 Ra 1204/1 Dec. 1789); TSMA, E. 664/40 (n.d.); TSMA, E. 5225/12 (Evahir S 1194/27 Feb.-7 Mar. 1780); TSMA, E. 664/51 (n.d.); TSMA, E. 2229/3 (n.d.).

On the provisioning of Istanbul from Egypt, see Mikhail, Nature and Empire, 103-113.

For some of this history of water management in Ottoman Egypt, see ibid., 38—81. BOA, îbnülemin Umur-i Nafia, 94 (Evasit Ra 1121/21-30 May 1709); BOA, MM, 1: 116 (Evail R 1122/30 May-8 Jun. 1710); BOA, MM, 1: 167 (Evasit S 1123/31 Mar.-9 April 1711). For a discussion of this repair work, see Mikhail, ‘An Irrigated Empire,’ 576—578.

Shaw, Financial and Administrative Organization and Development, 269—270. One of the most famous and lucrative of these awqâf in the late seventeenth century was very near Fayyum and possibly administratively connected to it. It consisted of a group of nine villages in al-Bahnasa (Beni Suef) controlled by Hasan Agha Bilifya, a Faqari leader and commander of the Gônüllüyan military bloc. Jane Hathaway, ‘The Role of the Kizlar Agasi in 17th—18th Century Ottoman Egypt,’ Studia Islamica 75 (1992), 153—158; idem, The Politics of Households in Ottoman Egypt: The Rise of the Qazdaghs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 157—160; idem, ‘Egypt in the Seventeenth Century,’ in Modern Egypt, from 1517 to the End of the Twentieth Century, vol. 2 of The Cambridge History of Egypt, ed. M. W. Daly (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 50.

On shifts in trading patterns in the fifteenth century, see Nelly Hanna, An Urban History of Biilaq in the Mamluk and Ottoman Periods (Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 1983), 7-32.

For studies of the Red Sea shipwreck site of a particular Ottoman vessel that illuminate the ship’s cargo, carrying capacity, structure, and so forth, see Cheryl Ward, ‘The Sadana Island Shipwreck: An Eighteenth-Century AD Merchantman off the Red Sea Coast of Egypt,’ World Archaeology 32 (2001): 368—382; idem, ‘The Sadana Island Shipwreck: A Mideighteenth-Century Treasure Trove,’ in A Historical Archaeology of the Ottoman Empire: Breaking New Ground, ed. Uzi Baram and Lynda Carroll (New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum, 2000), 185—202;

Cheryl Ward and Uzi Bararn, ‘Global Markets, Local Practice: Ottoman-Period Clay Pipes and Smoking Paraphernalia from the Red Sea Shipwreck at Sadana Island, Egypt,’ International Journal of Historical Archaeology 10 (2006): 135—158.

  • 22 I am relying on the following court cases from Rosetta for the story of the wood’s movement: National Archives of Egypt (Dar al-Watha’iq al-Qawmiyya; hereafter DWQ), Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 88, case 140 (17 S 1137/30 Apr. 1725); DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, pp. 200-201, case 311 (3 N 1137/16 May 1725); DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 199, case 308 (16 § 1137/29 Apr. 1725); DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 199, case 309 (17 S 1137/30 Apr. 1725). All of these cases are written in Ottoman Turkish. The recording of these imperial orders in Ottoman Turkish in the normally Arabic-language registers of the court of Rosetta shows both the imperial nature of this project and the way the empire used its courts to manage these kinds of imperial endeavors.
  • 23 Earlier examples of attempts to gain access to wood from Anatolia for the construction of ships in Suez further highlight the strategic nature of this commodity. In 1510, for instance, 11 galleons were dispatched to the Anatolian port of Ayas at the very northeastern corner of the Mediterranean from the Egyptian port of Damietta to secure wood supplies for the construction of ships in Suez. Suspicious that this movement of ships to Ayas was part of an Ottoman—Mamluk plot against Rhodes, the leaders of this still-independent island territory attacked and destroyed the convoy of ships. Brummett, Ottoman Seapourer and Levantine Diplomacy, 115—116. For another example of the transport of wood from Anatolia to build ships on the Red Sea, see also ibid., 174.
  • 24 For a sketch of historic forest locations and coverage in the Middle East, see Carlos E. Cordova, Millennial Landscape Change in Jordan: Ceoarchaeology and Cultural Ecology (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2007), 3-4.
  • 25 There is relatively little work on the history of Ottoman forestry. For some of the current literature, see Seljuk Dursun, ‘Forest and the State: History of Forestry and Forest in the Ottoman Empire’ (PhD diss., Sabanci University, 2007); Sam White, The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 16—17, 28—31, 72, 278, 289; Mikhail, Nature and Empire, 124—169. See also the following very general history of Turkish forestry: Yiicel Qaglar, Tiirkiye Ormanlart ve Ormancthk (Istanbul: IletiSim Yayinlari, 1992). For useful collections of documents on Ottoman forestry, see Cevre ve Orman Bakanhgi, Osmanh Ormancthgt He Ilgili Belgeler, 3 vols. (Ankara: Cevre ve Orman Bakanhgi, 1999—2003); Halil Kutluk, ed., Tiirkiye Ormancthgt He Ilgili Tarihi Vesikalar, 89.1—1339 (1487—1923) (Istanbul: Osmanbey Matbaasi, 1948).
  • 26 On the use of wood to construct ships in the imperial dockyards of Istanbul, see Bostan, Tersdne-i Amire, 102—118.
  • 27 On the office of the kereste emtni, see Cevre ve Orman Bakanhgi, Osmanh Ormancthgt, 1: 94—95. For a discussion of Ottoman forestry guilds in the context of the wider early modern Mediterranean world, see J. Donald Hughes, The Mediterranean: An Environmental History (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2005), 97-99.
  • 28 For cases involving the organization of laborers for the harvesting of lumber from Anatolian forests, see Cevre ve Orman Bakanhgi, Osmanh Ormancthgt, 1: 8—9, 46-47, 48-49, 56-57, 60-61.
  • 29 For more on these and other positions related to the harvesting of timber, see ibid., 1: XIII.
  • 30 For an example of timber harvests on the southern Black Sea coast near the town of Sinop that were used to repair Egyptian vessels, see BOA, Cevdet Bahriye, 1413 (Evasit R 1120/30 Jun.-9 Jul. 1708 and 20 Za 1124/19 Dec. 1712).
  • 31 For a statement of the historic role of Rhodes in funneling wood to the imperial timber stores in this period, see BOA, Cevdet Nafia, 302 (23 Za 1216/28 Mar. 1802).

For a general discussion of Ottoman imperial forest management policies, see Cevre ve Orman Bakanhgi, Osmanlt Ormanctltgt, 1: XI—XVI. For specific regulations, see ibid., 1: 2-3, 6-7, 18-19, 22-23, 24-25, 26-27, 38-39, 104-105, 106-107, 110-111, 114-115, 120-121, 124-125, 150-151, 172-173; 2:2-3, 42-43, 46-47, 48-49; 3: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 16-17, 18-19.

For useful comparative examples of sustainable forest management techniques in early modern Japan, Germany, and Spain, see Conrad Totman, The Green Archipelago: Forestry in Preindustrial Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989); idem, The Lumber Industry in Early Modern Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1995); Paul Warde, Ecology, Economy and State Formation in Early Modern Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); John Thomas Wing, ‘Roots of Empire: State Formation and the Politics of Timber Access in Early Modern Spain, 1556—1759’ (PhD diss., University of Minnesota, 2009); John T. Wing, ‘Keeping Spain Afloat: State Forestry and Imperial Defense in the Sixteenth Century,’ Environmental History 17 (2012): 116—145.

DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 88, case 140 (17 S 1137/30 Apr. 1725); DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, pp. 200—201, case 311 (3 N 1137/16 May 1725); DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 199, case 308 (16 § 1137/29 Apr. 1725); DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 199, case 309 (17 S 1137/30 Apr. 1725).

DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 88, case 140 (17 § 1137/30 Apr. 1725); DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 199, case 309 (17 § 1137/30 Apr. 1725).

Idris Bostan, ‘An Ottoman Base in Eastern Mediterranean: Alexandria of Egypt in the 18th Century,’ in Proceedings of the International Conference on Egypt during the Ottoman Era: 26-30 November 2007, Cairo, Egypt, ed. Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (Istanbul: IRCICA, 2010), 63—77; Michael J. Reimer, ‘Ottoman Alexandria: The Paradox of Decline and the Reconfiguration of Power in Eighteenth-Century Arab Provinces,’ Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 37 (1994): 107-146.

Daniel Panzac, ‘International and Domestic Maritime Trade in the Ottoman Empire during the 18th Century,’ International Journal of Middle East Studies 24 (1992): 189-206.

On Ottoman Egypt’s many trading links, see Raymond, Artisans et commerfants. DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 88, case 140 (17 § 1137/30 Apr. 1725); DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, pp. 200—201, case 311 (3 N 1137/16 May 1725).

On piracy and corsairs in the Ottoman Mediterranean and imperial attempts to stop them, see Brummett, Ottoman Seapower and Levantine Diplomacy, 94—102 and 135—136; Idris Bostan, Kiirekli ve Yelkenli Osmanh Cemileri (Istanbul: Bilge, 2005), 372, 376; Molly Greene, Catholic Pirates and Greek Merchants: A Maritime History of the Mediterranean (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010); idem, ‘The Ottomans in the Mediterranean,’ in The Early Modern Ottomans: Remapping the Empire, ed. Virginia Aksan and Daniel Goffman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 113—116. For the case of a pirate attack near Rhodes on Egyptian grain ships on their way to Istanbul, see TSMA, E. 7008/12 (n.d.).

Bostan, ‘An Ottoman Base in Eastern Mediterranean,’ 76—77.

DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 88, case 140 (17 § 1137/30 Apr. 1725).

For accounts of various Ottoman plans for a Suez Canal that ultimately never materialized, see Casale, Ottoman Age of Exploration, 135—137, 159—170, 201—202; Colin Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300—1650: The Structure of Power (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 62; Mustafa Bilge, ‘Suez Canal in the Ottoman Sources,’ in Proceedings of the International Conference on Egypt (2007), 89—113.

The absence of such a waterway was recognized as a problem by various governments throughout Egypt’s history. For accounts of attempts to build such a canal, see Isabelle Hairy and Oueded Sennoune, ‘Geographic historique du canal d’Al-exandrie,’ Annales Islamologiques 40 (2006): 247-278; ‘Umar Tusun, TarTkh KhalTj al-Iskandariyya al-Qadlm wa Tur'at al-Mahmlldiyya (Alexandria: Matba'at al-‘Adl, 1942); Mikhail, Nature and Empire, 242—290.

DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 88, case 140 (17 § 1137/30 Apr. 1725); DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, pp. 200—201, case 311 (3 N 1137/16 May 1725). On cerim ships, see Bostan, Osmanh Gemileri, 253—259. For an example of the empire’s hiring of sailors of cerfm ships, see BOA, Cevdet Bahriye, 208 (14 Ra 1204/2 Dec. 1789).

DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 88, case 140 (17 § 1137/30 April 1725).

For studies of the sediment load in the Nile’s floodwaters that added to the force of its seaward flow, see Omran E. Frihy et al., ‘Patterns of Nearshore Sediment Transport along the Nile Delta, Egypt,’ Coastal Engineering 15 (1991): 409-429; Scot E. Smith and Adel Abdel-Kader, ‘Coastal Erosion Along the Egyptian Delta,’ Journal of Coastal Research 4 (1988): 245—255; Mohamed A. K. Elsayed et al., ‘Accretion and Erosion Patterns along Rosetta Promontory, Nile Delta Coast,’ Journal of Coastal Research 21 (May 2005): 412—420.

DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, p. 88, case 140 (17 § 1137/30 April 1725); DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, pp. 200—201, case 311 (3 N 1137/16 May 1725). On Bulaq during the Ottoman period, see Hanna, An Urban History of Bulaq.

DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, pp. 200—201, case 311 (3 N 1137/16 May 1725). Generally, on the use of camels in transport in the Middle East, see Richard W. Bulliet, The Camel and the Wheel (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990). DWQ, Mahkamat Rashid 132, pp. 200-201, case 311 (3 N 1137/16 May 1725). The case lists these amounts in nisffidda, but according to Stanford J. Shaw, ‘the silver coin in common use during Mamluk and Ottoman times in Egypt was called ntsffidde colloquially and para officially.’ Shaw, Financial and Administrative Organization and Development, 65 n. 169.

Shaw, Financial and Administrative Organization and Development, 264—267.

Alan Mikhail, ‘Animals as Property in Early Modern Ottoman Egypt,’ Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 53 (2010): 621—652.

On the importance of camels for Ottoman transportation and military ventures, see Halil Inalcik, ‘“Arab” Camel Drivers in Western Anatolia in the Fifteenth Century,’ Revue d’Histoire Maghrebine 10 (1983): 256—270; idem, ‘The Ottoman State: Economy and Society, 1300—1600,’ in An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire: Volume I, 1300-1600, ed. Halil Inalcik with Donald Quataert (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 38—39, 62—63; Suraiya Faroqhi, ‘Camels, Wagons, and the Ottoman State in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,’ International Journal of Middle East Studies 14 (1982): 523-539. In 1399, for example, Bayezid the Thunderbolt (r. 1389—1402) took 10,000 camels as booty from his conquest of the region of Antalya. Inalcik, ‘“Arab” Camel Drivers,’ 265. Donald Quataert, The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 119.

For a similar example of the movement of wood for the construction of ships in Suez in 1810, see ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Jabartl, ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Jabartl’s History of Egypt: Aja’ib al-Athar ft al-Tarajim wa al-Akhbar, ed. Thomas Philipp and Moshe Perlmann, 4 vols. (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1994), 4: 146.

It was of course this lack of alternatives that made the project of the Suez Canal so appealing.

§evket Pamuk, A Monetary History of the Ottoman Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); idem, ‘Prices in the Ottoman Empire, 1469—1914,’ International Journal of Middle East Studies 36 (2004): 451-468.

I of course do not mean to imply that the Ottoman Empire intervened in all economic relations in its realm or that somehow a Muslim polity would be more economically interventionist than a non-Muslim one. Obviously, most economic

Anatolian timber and Egyptian grain 365 relationships in the empire did not involve the state in any way. This case of ship construction, however, is an instance in which the state did play a central role and therefore provides an opportunity to understand an important aspect of Ottoman economic history. For a discussion of the empire’s selective protectionism in the sixteenth century, see Brummett, Ottoman Seapotver and Levantine Diplomacy, 181-182.

  • 60 For studies pointing to some of the administrative weaknesses of the empire in Egypt and in other of its provinces in the eighteenth century, see ‘Abd al-Rahlm ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Abd al-Rahlm, al-RTf al-Misn fl al-Qarn al-Thamin Ashar (Cairo: Maktabat Madbull, 1986); Albert Hourani, ‘Ottoman Reforms and the Politics of Notables,’ in The Beginnings of Modernization in the Middle East: The Nineteenth Century, ed. William R. Polk and Richard L. Chambers (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 41—68; Abdul-Karim Rafeq, ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi: Religious Tolerance and “Arabness” in Ottoman Damascus,’ in Transformed Landscapes: Essays on Palestine and the Middle East in Honor of Walid Khalidi, ed. Camille Mansour and Leila Fawaz (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2009), 1—17. For a very useful review of much of this literature, see Suraiya Faroqhi, ‘Coping with the Central State, Coping with Local Power: Ottoman Regions and Notables from the Sixteenth to the Early Nineteenth Century,’ in The Ottomans and the Balkans: A Discussion of Historiography, ed. Fikret Adamr and Suraiya Faroqhi (Leiden: Brill, 2002), 351—381. On the Ottoman army in the eighteenth century and its provisioning problems, see Virginia H. Aksan, Ottoman Wars 1700—1870: An Empire Besieged (Harlow: Longman-Pearson, 2007), 83—179.
  • 61 William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991), 149. Emphasis in original.
  • 62 Mikhail, Nature and Empire, 128—136.

Part VI

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