Abstract Dr. Antonia Bosanquet
Antonia Bosanquet (Universität Hamburg)
Abstract: Shifting Trade Patterns in the ʿAbbāsid Province of Ifrīqiya
The question of Ifrīqiya’s economic and cultural integration into the ʿAbbāsid Empire, and the Islamic realm beyond this, has received increasing attention in recent years. However, most of the research has been undertaken by art historians and archaeologists, who have analysed technical and artistic developments in material culture to draw conclusions about artisan mobility, economic exchange and cultural influence in the ninth and tenth centuries.
This paper will take the findings of material culture into account but will draw primarily on textual sources to trace the evolution of trade centres throughout the province of Ifrīqiya. It will examine the representation of specific towns as trade hubs in geographical texts between the eighth and the twelfth centuries, thus covering the period before and after the province’s loyalty to the ʿAbbāsid Empire. The changing portrayals of the economic significance of these places will be analysed in relation to a number of factors, including the trade routes throughout the region, political and economic relationships, and agricultural and industrial production for local or non-local markets. The relation of these towns to the trade networks and junctions of antiquity will also be considered, as part of the larger question of how far the Arab conquest realigned the political-economic axis of North Africa away from a north-south focus and towards a more east-west alignment.