Rural society in Medieval Islam: ‘History of the Fayyum’

The ‘History of the Fayyum’ is a unique tax register, in Arabic, listing revenues from 130 villages and hamlets in one Egyptian province for AD 1245.   It is the most detailed tax survey to have survived from any region of the medieval Islamic world, a Domesday Book for the medieval Egyptian countryside.

This website offers the tools for a quantitative and qualitative micro-study of society, economy, and agriculture of medieval Fayyum. It gives access to:

  • Full fiscal and demographic data set, presented in 17 Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheets.
  • Spatial representation of the data, presented in 14 Geographical Information System (GIS) maps. 
  • Extracts from the English translation and Arabic edition of the work.

It also includes resources for teaching the rural history of the Middle East.

The website is part of the 'Rural Society in Medieval Islam' project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK, and based at the School of History, Queen Mary University of London. 

More about the project


Map of the Fayyum, from Ali Shafei Bey, ‘Fayum, towns and canals as described by Nabolsi in 642 A.H. (1245 A.D.)’, Bull. de la Soc. royal de Géographie D’Égypte XX (1940), with the permission of the British Library.

Map of the Nile River, from The Book of Curiosities, an 11th-century cosmographical treatise (Bodl. MA Arab c. 90). With permission of the Bodleian Library.
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