In the bellies of the marshes: Water and power in the countryside of Ottoman Baghdad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The economic fortunes of states and grain farmers in the Iraqi alluvium plummeted following the deterioration of the Sasanian irrigation system during the early medieval period, giving scholars the impression that the region's environment went through a period of perpetual decline. This essay utilizes the flood pulse concept and argues that the deterioration of comprehensive waterworks restored the natural unmodified flood regime of the Euphrates and reinvigorated different species and natural systems, particularly the Iraqi marshes and their biota. Vibrant and reviving, marshes provided the material basis for the rise of the Khaza¯'il tribal confederation to political dominance in Iraq's Middle Euphrates region at the turn of the eighteenth century and served it as an ecological niche and political ally during its struggle with the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman provincial authorities in Baghdad repeatedly dammed the Middle Euphrates and drained its marshes in order to break the basis of the Khaza¯'il's power in the countryside. Ottoman hydraulic warfare weakened their tribal foes, but it produced unexpected outcomes in the long term that changed the history of the Ottoman Empire and its Iraqi provinces forever. Most notably, it facilitated a westward channel shift in the Euphrates and the consolidation of Shi'ism as a majority religion in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)638-664
Number of pages27
JournalEnvironmental History
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

Fingerprint

Ottoman empire
marsh
eighteenth century
Medieval
religion
irrigation system
water
alluvial deposit
consolidation
biota
hydraulics
history
economics
Baghdad
Countryside
Water
Ottoman Empire
Deterioration
province
ecological niche

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

Cite this

@article{0861f8716bf042d69d98891da4913abf,
title = "In the bellies of the marshes: Water and power in the countryside of Ottoman Baghdad",
abstract = "The economic fortunes of states and grain farmers in the Iraqi alluvium plummeted following the deterioration of the Sasanian irrigation system during the early medieval period, giving scholars the impression that the region's environment went through a period of perpetual decline. This essay utilizes the flood pulse concept and argues that the deterioration of comprehensive waterworks restored the natural unmodified flood regime of the Euphrates and reinvigorated different species and natural systems, particularly the Iraqi marshes and their biota. Vibrant and reviving, marshes provided the material basis for the rise of the Khaza¯'il tribal confederation to political dominance in Iraq's Middle Euphrates region at the turn of the eighteenth century and served it as an ecological niche and political ally during its struggle with the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman provincial authorities in Baghdad repeatedly dammed the Middle Euphrates and drained its marshes in order to break the basis of the Khaza¯'il's power in the countryside. Ottoman hydraulic warfare weakened their tribal foes, but it produced unexpected outcomes in the long term that changed the history of the Ottoman Empire and its Iraqi provinces forever. Most notably, it facilitated a westward channel shift in the Euphrates and the consolidation of Shi'ism as a majority religion in the region.",
author = "Faisal Husain",
year = "2014",
month = "10",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1093/envhis/emu067",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "19",
pages = "638--664",
journal = "Environmental History",
issn = "1084-5453",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",
number = "4",

}

In the bellies of the marshes : Water and power in the countryside of Ottoman Baghdad. / Husain, Faisal.

In: Environmental History, Vol. 19, No. 4, 01.10.2014, p. 638-664.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

TY - JOUR

T1 - In the bellies of the marshes

T2 - Water and power in the countryside of Ottoman Baghdad

AU - Husain, Faisal

PY - 2014/10/1

Y1 - 2014/10/1

N2 - The economic fortunes of states and grain farmers in the Iraqi alluvium plummeted following the deterioration of the Sasanian irrigation system during the early medieval period, giving scholars the impression that the region's environment went through a period of perpetual decline. This essay utilizes the flood pulse concept and argues that the deterioration of comprehensive waterworks restored the natural unmodified flood regime of the Euphrates and reinvigorated different species and natural systems, particularly the Iraqi marshes and their biota. Vibrant and reviving, marshes provided the material basis for the rise of the Khaza¯'il tribal confederation to political dominance in Iraq's Middle Euphrates region at the turn of the eighteenth century and served it as an ecological niche and political ally during its struggle with the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman provincial authorities in Baghdad repeatedly dammed the Middle Euphrates and drained its marshes in order to break the basis of the Khaza¯'il's power in the countryside. Ottoman hydraulic warfare weakened their tribal foes, but it produced unexpected outcomes in the long term that changed the history of the Ottoman Empire and its Iraqi provinces forever. Most notably, it facilitated a westward channel shift in the Euphrates and the consolidation of Shi'ism as a majority religion in the region.

AB - The economic fortunes of states and grain farmers in the Iraqi alluvium plummeted following the deterioration of the Sasanian irrigation system during the early medieval period, giving scholars the impression that the region's environment went through a period of perpetual decline. This essay utilizes the flood pulse concept and argues that the deterioration of comprehensive waterworks restored the natural unmodified flood regime of the Euphrates and reinvigorated different species and natural systems, particularly the Iraqi marshes and their biota. Vibrant and reviving, marshes provided the material basis for the rise of the Khaza¯'il tribal confederation to political dominance in Iraq's Middle Euphrates region at the turn of the eighteenth century and served it as an ecological niche and political ally during its struggle with the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman provincial authorities in Baghdad repeatedly dammed the Middle Euphrates and drained its marshes in order to break the basis of the Khaza¯'il's power in the countryside. Ottoman hydraulic warfare weakened their tribal foes, but it produced unexpected outcomes in the long term that changed the history of the Ottoman Empire and its Iraqi provinces forever. Most notably, it facilitated a westward channel shift in the Euphrates and the consolidation of Shi'ism as a majority religion in the region.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84928552635&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84928552635&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1093/envhis/emu067

DO - 10.1093/envhis/emu067

M3 - Review article

AN - SCOPUS:84928552635

VL - 19

SP - 638

EP - 664

JO - Environmental History

JF - Environmental History

SN - 1084-5453

IS - 4

ER -