Reading and analysing Ottoman Administrative Sources

31.08.-03.09.2016, Summer School, Amman, Jordan

The French Institute of the Near East (Ifpo), the Institute for Anatolian Studies (IFÉA), the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB) and the University of Jordan (UJ) with the support of the French research interest group GIS Middle East/Islamic World, are organising a summer school devoted to reading and analysing Ottoman administrative sources. During the three-and-a-half-day programme we will introduce young researchers to reading and analysing the various manuscript sources which have been issued by Ottoman administrative institutions at both provincial and imperial levels. 

Our programme emerged from several observations. First of all, young historians often feel helpless when faced with difficult Ottoman archival material in Arabic or osmanlı if they have not had proper training in palaeography and philology. Our summer school aims to provide future researchers with concrete tools by offering workshops devoted to the reading and analysing of various types of sources. Moreover, there is not enough dialogue and exchange between the different schools of Ottoman history, particularly between those focusing on the analysis of imperial dynamics (who are generally specialists in the Ottoman language) and those who concentrate on the provinces of the Empire and who therefore work on sources produced in local languages, one of which is Arabic. Our summer school will focus on the study of archives in both Arabic andosmanlı so as to provide future historians with the skills necessary to use such sources within the framework of their research. 

Our objective is to encourage the use of source materials in different languages by facilitating the identification and understanding of archival holdings. Another difficulty encountered when working with archival material from the Ottoman period is a terminology no longer used today. We will therefore provide practical tools for analysing texts in Arabic and osmanlı and also offer an introduction to the vocabulary and syntax of the archives in both languages. 


This summer school is an initiative of the Ifpo, the IFEA and the OIB in cooperation with the University of Jordan (Amman) and the support of the French research interest group GIS Middle East/Islamic World. 

It will begin with a presentation and a visit to one of the main archival centers in Jordan, the Center for Manuscripts and Documents at the University of Jordan. This visit will provide an opportunity for exchanges with Jordanian archivists and Ottoman historians regarding such issues as conservation, preservation, indexation and analysis of their documents. In the afternoon of the first day, the Ottoman State Archives of Istanbul (Başbakanlık Devlet Arşivleri) and Ankara will be presented in a practical way so as to facilitate an understanding of how these holdings are catalogued. During this first day, one session will also be devoted to the terminology of archives and to some practical tools for a first assessment and a selection of source materials. 

The subsequent days of the summer school will consist of workshops in palaeography and philology based on the reading of documents in the Ottoman language and/or in Arabic, during which the instructors will present their own source material. A visit to the old Ottoman city of Salt will be organized on the 3rd day. 

The students will also be asked to read and analyse a document of their choice which they will present to their colleagues. This introduction mixing osmanlı, Arabic dialect and standard 

Arabic aims to prepare and encourage young researchers to acquire the linguistic competencies necessary for working with original archival material. The summer school intends to provide them with concrete tools for conducting archival research on various levels, imperial, provincial and local. The overall objective is to promote a renewal of studies and approaches to the history of the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. 

The summer school will last three and a half days, and it is organised in four sessions of two hours, except for the two mornings devoted to visits. Each session will be facilitated by different instructors who will present archival documents from various administrative bodies issued between the 16th and the 20th century. 

The summer school will accept twenty students. Twelve researchers and professors from Turkish, Jordanian, German and French universities will be the instructors for this programme.

The working languages of the summer school are French, English and Arabic. Simultaneous interpretation will be available for those languages. 


Any student enrolled in a Master or Ph.D. programme, as well as young post-doctoral students, regardless of nationality, can apply for this summer school, provided that his or her research project necessitates the use of Ottoman source materials in Arabic or osmanlı


The summer school will take place at the Ifpo in Jabal Amman, Amman, Jordan, except for the first morning, which will take place at the Center for Manuscripts and Documents at the University of Jordan, and the last day, which will be devoted to a visit of Salt. 


Hind Abu Shaar (University Āl al-Bayt), Metin Atmaca (Ankara Sosyal Bilimler Üniversitesi), Philippe Bourmaud (IFEA), Şerife Eroğlu (Hacettepe University), Vanessa Guéno (Ifpo), Astrid Meier (OIB), Abla Muhtadi (independent researcher), Falestin Naili (Ifpo), Norig Neveu (Ifpo), Işik Tamdoğan (CETOBaC), Murat Siviloglu (independent researcher), Mahmoud Yazbak (University of Haïfa).