Jordan in the Late
Middle Ages

Transformation of the Mamluk Frontier

By Bethany J. Walker

The decline of the Mamluk Sultanate from the late fourteenth century is an important component of the larger transformation of the late medieval Levant. In this centralized state, the Mamluks’ political culture has traditionally been defined by that of the imperial capital of Cairo. The political decline of the sultanate in Cairo has, then, come to define the many-faceted transformations of the entire region with the waning of the medieval era. The dynamics of change far from Cairo, in remote settlements on the imperial frontier, are, by contrast, relatively unknown.

This book explores the transformation of the Mamluk state from the perspective of the Jordanian frontier, considering the actions of local people in molding both the state and their own societies in the post-plague era. Through a critical analysis of a wide range of economic and legal documents of the late Mamluk and early Ottoman periods, as well as data on rural society generated by recent archaeological research, the work documents the complex, dialectical relationships that always existed between the Mamluk state and the tribal societies of Jordan, as well as the flexible strategies pursued by both to adapt to changing circumstances during the late medieval period. It is ultimately a provincial perspective on imperial decline, reform, and rebirth that sheds new light on the mechanisms of socio-political and economic change through the experiences of ordinary people living on the “margins” of empire.

The book is illustrated with more than two dozen photographs and 6 maps.

Bethany Walker is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History at Missouri State University. She has published widely on Mamluk and Ottoman socio-economic history and material culture in primarily American and French journals. A historian and archaeologist, she directs two archaeological projects in Jordan and for the last twenty years has been doing fieldwork at sites throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Her edited work Reflections of Empire: Archaeological and Ethnographic Studies on the Pottery of the Ottoman Levant was published by the American Schools of Oriental Research in 2009.

ISBN 978-0-9708199-7-0
Hardcover, $70.00

Available in bookstores, or download the order form and mail with payment to:
Marlis J. Saleh, Editor
Chicago Studies on the Middle East
JRL 560, Regenstein Library
1100 E. 57th St.
Chicago, IL 60637

Books in this series may also be available online from
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore:

Editor: Bruce D. Craig
Advisory Committee:
Fred M. Donner
Marlis Saleh
Holly Shissler
John E. Woods
For further information, please email Marlis J. Saleh: msaleh[at] (replace [at] with @)

Chicago Studies on the Middle East is published on behalf of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies by the Middle East Documentation Center.

Books in this series are designed and formatted by Chinook Design, Inc.