El zoco medieval: Contribucion al studio de la historia del mercado.

Author:Morony, Michael
Position:Book review

El zoco medieval: Contribucion al studio de la historia del mercado. By PEDRO CHALMETA. Estadios Andalusies, vol. 3. Almeria: FUNDACION IBN TUFAYL DE ESTADIOS ARABES, 2010. Pp. 939. 49 [euro].

As mentioned in the introduction, this is basically a revision of Chalmeta's El "senor del zoco" en Espana: Edades media y moderna. Contribucion al estudio de la historia del mercado (Madrid, 1973) based on four more decades of work. The change in title foregrounds the marketplace, and there has been some reorganization and rearrangement although the subheadings and text are often the same. There is now a more logical order to the beginning, which still starts with a section on economic concepts but is followed by sections on sources and antecedents (moved from part two, chapters one and two of El "senor del zoco"). In general this version has a broader perspective, but it still gravitates toward al-Andalus and the marketplace inspector in part two.

The section on concepts covers economy, commerce, money, elements of the marketplace, and the historical evolution of marketplaces, and has expanded footnotes. The section on sources has been reorganized and expanded. It still starts with hisba manuals and includes appointments, archaeology, chronicles, biographical dictionaries, juridical works, geography, European travel accounts, almotacen books, anthropology, and Christian adaptations. There is new material on ancient Mesopotamia, Syria, and pharaonic Egypt in the section on pre-Islamic antecedents, and the section on pre-Islamic Arab markets (aswaq al-carab) has been expanded.

These sections are followed by part one on marketplaces, with treatments of Muslim, urban, and rural markets. There are new sections here on silent trade and on prices. According to Chalmeta, the law of supply and demand operated only in cities, and in urban marketplaces prices were a function of a market economy. He also says that prices were affected by hoarding, commercial cartels, the commission of the moneychanger, a tariff, an agreed price, an imposed price, and fixed prices.

Part two is about the control of the marketplace, primarily in Muslim and Christian Iberia. It begins with sections on wiluyat al-suq in al-Andalus from 711 to 1086 and on wilayat al-suq in al-Andalus from 1086 to 1492 that list the characteristics of the office and have expanded lists of marketplace inspectors in al-Andalus. In both sections the characteristics of the office are surveyed in terms of...

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