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Ottoman Horticultural Science and Practice, 1453–1669

Alexandar Shopov, Harvard University, William R. Tyler Fellow 2012–2014

My research explores the relationship between farming manuals and the changes in the agricultural production in early Ottoman cities and countryside. I completed two chapters in the second year of my fellowship. I used the library’s collection of early Ottoman primary sources to analyze the spatial transformation of the newly conquered Constantinople/Konstantiniyye and the increased Ottoman interest in producing farming manuals at the end of the fifteenth century. I also drafted two chapters on the creation of the Ottoman agricultural science in the second half of the sixteenth century, a result of the absorption of agricultural land by the ruling class and its interest in theoretical works on farming. This coincided with the dispossession of peasants from agricultural land and the arrival of new plants from the Americas.

In addition to the work on my dissertation, I worked in the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, where I cataloged photographs relevant to Garden and Landscape Studies. Prior to my arrival at Dumbarton Oaks, these photographs were cataloged only as Byzantine-related material, despite the fact that a large number of them depict various Eastern Mediterranean landscapes and gardens. I incorporated some of these images into the new design of the Middle Eastern Garden Traditions website. I also revised some of the photograph descriptions in the Artamonoff Collection, which were used as visual sources in the “City and Agriculture: Studying and Preserving the Historic Gardens of Istanbul” course at Harvard University.