Books  General Natural History  Environmental History 

Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Empire: Plague, Famine, and Other Misfortunes

  • Explores the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire through looking at natural disasters
  • Transforms what we thought we knew about religious divisions in the Ottoman Empire
  • An interdisciplinary study, combining historical evidence with works in social psychology, sociology, and even neuroscience

By: Yaron Ayalon(Author)

263 pages, 10 b/w illustrations, 1 map

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jun 2017 | #235064 | ISBN-13: 9781107421295
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £21.99 $28/€24 approx
Hardback | Nov 2014 | #215767 | ISBN-13: 9781107072978
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £66.99 $86/€73 approx

About this book

This book explores the history of natural disasters in the Ottoman Empire and the responses to them on the state, communal, and individual levels. Yaron Ayalon argues that religious boundaries between Muslims and non-Muslims were far less significant in Ottoman society than commonly believed. Furthermore, the emphasis on Islamic principles and the presence of Islamic symbols in the public domain were measures the state took to enhance its reputation and political capital – occasional discrimination of non-Muslims was only a by-product of these measures. This study sheds new light on flight and behavioral patterns in response to impending disasters by combining historical evidence with studies in social psychology and sociology. Employing an approach that mixes environmental and social history with the psychology of disasters, Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Empire asserts that the handling of such disasters was crucial to both the rise and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.



1. The black death and the rise of the Ottomans
2. Natural disasters and the Ottoman state
3. Natural disasters and Ottoman communities
4. Individuals face disasters
5. Natural disasters at the end of empire


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Yaron Ayalon is an Assistant Professor of History at Ball State University. He previously taught at Emory University and the University of Oklahoma. He has published articles in edited volumes and in journals such as the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of Ottoman Studies, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, and Die Welt des Islams. He has presented his research at the annual conferences of the Middle East Studies Association, the American Historical Association, and the Association for Jewish Studies. He has also served as an editor for the Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World.

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