Author Archives: Torsten Wollina

Teaching and transmission in 16th-century Damascus

The importance of any scholar can be justified with either of three arguments: They wrote many and important works, furthering one or even several disciplines; they taught many students who went on to become themselves important scholars; or people more generally benefited from their dispensation of helpful information. Ideally, a scholar would combine all of the above, which should reflect in them being appointed to influential positions in educational institutions. However, as today, so in the 16th century politics played a role in appointment processes, and often enough the person skillful in those could overcome someone more knowledgeable in the discipline to be taught.

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A horrific crime—at an ominous time

The criminal underworld of medieval Damascus is certainly not my field of expertise. But as for the contemporary audience of Ibn Ṭūlūn’s chronicle Mufākahat al-Khillān, these stories also draw the attention of current readers. This short post relates one such instance from Damascus at the end of the Mamluk period.

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Introducing: Khadija al-Qurashiyya al-Bakriyya

Returning to a recurrent segment but with a little twist this post’s subject is Khadija bt. Jamal al-Din Abd Allah al-Qurashiyya al-Bakriyya—and we could add here—al-Misriyya. She did not receive her own biography in Ibn Tulun’s biographical dictionary al-Dhakhaʾir but nonetheless has her voice heard in that same work.

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Towards a History of Ibn Tulun’s corpus

While much of what has been published here, has been more or less concerned with the topic of this post’s title, today it will get much more “personal”. More concretely, this post gives a list of all those people I could identify as having engaged with the corpus at one time or another.

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Nature Made Absent? Environmental History and Arabic Manuscript Studies

This is the presentation I gave recently at the 2019 conference of the European Society of Environmental History in Tallinn, Estonia (21-24 August). The theme was “Boundaries in/of Environmental History” and the paper was given in James L. Smith’s panel:

What follows is my presentation with images as far as I can use them.

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