The Archival Topography of Medieval Jerusalem
Record Keeping in a Provincial Town
This project seeks to redraw the archival map of late medieval Jerusalem. By scrutinising material and textual traces on documents, it will analyse archival practices, actors (private and organisational) and sites that were engaged in maintaining records. Two points make Jerusalem a particularly rewarding case study in this regard. The first is the comparatively rich documentary source material at our disposal. With its rich documentary heritage, the archival history of Jerusalem has the potential to go beyond a case study of a specific individual, a certain household or a single organisational archive, and to approach these questions more holistically in view of the town’s larger archival landscape. The second point which makes Jerusalem particularly interesting is the ability to tap into early Ottoman court records produced in Jerusalem and to compare Mamluk-era and Ottoman-era archival practices.
To find out about these questions, this project will pay particular attention to the material features of the documents, such as paper formats, folding lines, and holes for bundling sets of documents in addition to textual features, like filing notes. The investigation is based on different corpora such as the nearly one thousand documents from the ḥaram al-sharīf and a set of early Ottoman court registers (sijillāt). The project will contribute to a broader understanding of the role documents played in the life of societies in the eastern Mediterranean and their interest in long- and short-term storage of records.