Beirut 2015, 226 pp., engl./french text
Since the 1980s, written documents generated by the Ottoman law courts constitute the single most frequently used primary source by historians of Ottoman Bilād al-Shām. The result is a large number of studies using many of these documents, usually from several different registers. Rarely, however, do the historians invite readers to share in a critical and focused discussion of a select few of these documentary sources.
The diverse studies collected here present a wide range of documents issued in legal practice, disclose the process of deciphering manuscripts, and set forth the differing readings and informal usages of this kind of source. The contributors to this volume reveal the difficulties and questions they face in reading and interpreting handwritten documents, often carelessly recorded in a formulaic and elliptical language.