“Before the Railway: Trade and the Syrian Hajj”
Online lecture given by Marcus Milwright, professor of Islamic art and archaeology in the Department of Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Victoria.
Please register in advance at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81788523922?pwd=dzA1dGp1b0JjeHlnUzJ4cjlNSE54dz09
Prior to the advent of mass air travel, Muslims performing the pilgrimage (hajj) to the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina were faced with long, expensive, and often physically arduous journeys by land and sea. In most cases, these routes predated the birth of Islam and had long been employed by merchant caravans, armies, and travelers.
The annual movement of large numbers of Muslims along both roads and sea routes naturally brought with it significant economic considerations. These varied forms of economic activity have left numerous traces in the archaeological and historical records.
This talk discusses that evidence with a particular focus on the route leading from Damascus to Mecca in the period from the late thirteenth to the end of the nineteenth century (the Mamluk and Ottoman sultanates). The annual passage of the hajj caravan radically transformed the extent and nature of trade in the regions bordering the road in ways that can still be seen today.