Fragments of the Fatimid Caliphate


Manage episode 279944605 series 1011677
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narrated by Chris Gratien
featuring Marina Rustow, Neelam Khoja, Zoe Griffith, and Fahad Bishara
| For brief period of history, the Fatimid Caliphate based in Egypt presided over arguably the most powerful empire in the Mediterranean. Yet because the legacy of this Ismaili dynasty was erased or downplayed by its Sunni rivals and successors, the Fatimids are often misunderstood. As we show in this installment of "The Making of the Islamic World," the Fatimid period and the sources that survive from it can in fact be critical to learning more about how pre-modern Islamic polities functioned, demonstrating that the Fatimids had a much more sophisticated state apparatus than some have assumed. The statecraft of a pre-modern Islamic empire is just one of the topics we can study in the Fatimid world thanks to a rich trove of documents from the Cairo Genizah. The Genizah was a storeroom of a synagogue in Fustat that ended up containing a wealth of documents, many of them simply discarded or reused, that reveal the complexity and interconnection of the medieval Mediterranean. In this episode, we explore how scholars make use of the Genizah documents and the interconnected world stretching from Southeast Asia to Mediterranean Europe reveals in the Genizah papers. In the process, we learn about the emergence of the Fatimid Caliphate as a dynasty and state structure and the developments that took place under Fatimid rule in Cairo.
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