Environmental Effects in the Agriculture of Medieval Egypt
By Wan Kamal Mujani
Research Journal of Applied Sciences, Volume: 6:7 (2011)
Abstract: Agriculture has been the main source of the economy for all dynasties established in Egypt and the Mamluk kingdom was no exception. It is clear that agricultural yields during the period were extremely variable being very dependent on environment and surrounding. Thus, the aim of this short article is to analyse the natural disasters in Egypt during the Mamluk period (1468-1517) and how these situations affected agriculture at that time. Based on chroniclers’ reports, there were climatic and biological disasters which affected agriculture. This can be seen in a reduction of agricultural yields and a fluctuation of crop prices. These natural hazards, however did not lead to a total collapse of agriculture in Egypt. Rather, it caused disruption of agricultural activities, destruction of crops and economic loss.
Introduction: Any assessment of the agricultural situation in the Circassian Mamluk period must discuss environmental issues and natural disasters since these regularly affected the agricultural sector leading to the destruction of crops and economic loss. The Mamluk historians have preserved valuable data on the natural disasters during their times. For example, Ahmed b. Ali al-Dalaji al-Misri (d.1435), al-Maqrizi (d.1442), Ibn Hajar al-Asqalini (d.1449), Ibn Taghri Birdi (d.1469), al-Sayrafi (d.1495), Abd al-Basit (d.1514) and Ibn Iyas (d.1524) mention the environmental problems which peasant had to deal with and describe how these problems played a significant role in their lives. Two categories of disasters are significant in the present discussion, namely climatic and biological.