Category: Environmental History of the Ottoman Empire

This series discusses environmental perspectives to Ottoman history considering the vast geographic diversity of the empire. It is the result of a workshop held at the Orient-Institute Beirut on environmental history of the Ottoman Empire (10-11 December 2020), which was curated by Fatih Ermiş.

Turkish women touring in Gülhane Park

Urban Parks in Late Ottoman Istanbul

By Mustafa Emir Küçük. People have used green spaces for recreational purposes throughout history, yet the concept of the park as a designed green space for people’s recreation in the middle of the city developed on an international scale in the nineteenth century. In Istanbul, the construction of urban parks was one of the many urban infrastructural projects in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Water extraction system in a market garden around Belgradkapı, İstanbul

Urban Agriculture in Pre-Modern Istanbul

By Ayşe Nur Akdal. Today, one can find it bizarre to come across a rural element in cities. However, historically, there was not a clear distinction between urban and rural. Agricultural and urban space existed together. Due to a lack of sufficient preservation and transportation technologies, easily perishable foods, such as dairy products and vegetables, were produced in urban areas. Istanbul was a good example with widespread and plentiful market gardens (2017; 11-18).

Where Intellectual and Environmental Histories Meet: Kashf al-ẓunūn and its Addenda as a Source for Ottoman Environmental History

By M. Fatih Çalışır. Main themes of environmental history. Environmental history is a kind of history that seeks an understanding of human beings as they have lived, worked, and thought in relationship to the rest of nature through the changes brought by time.

Boiling cocoons to loosen ends in Syria's largest silk reeling plant

Seasons of Capitalism: Human and Non-Human Nature in the Making of Lebanon’s Silk Industry

By Graham Auman Pitts. Capitalism had it seasons in late-Ottoman Mount Lebanon. Each spring, the families that tilled orchards of mulberries purchased the eggs they needed on c­­­­­redit. Mulberry leaves nourished the eggs, which hatched and began to spin their cocoons once the temperature was reliably above 16° Celsius.

The Fijeh Water Project and the Cholera Epidemic in 1903 Damascus

By Benan Grams. On June 30th, 1903 Sultan Abdulhamid II approved a project to bring potable water to Damascus from the Ein el-Fijeh spring. The project was presented to the central government by Nazim Pasha, the governor of Syria, during a persistent cholera epidemic that afflicted Damascus throughout that year.

New Questions for Studying Plague in Ottoman History

By Nükhet Varlık. Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. It is known to have affected human societies for at least the last five thousand years. During its long history, it sparked countless local epidemics and three known pandemics, which spread the bacterium to practically every corner of the world.

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