AuthorMorgan, Martha E.
AdvisorKillick, David J
Committee ChairKillick, David J
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractInteractions in culture, science, and technology in early Islamic North Africa are studied through an examination of Maghribi metallurgy. My dissertation, based on the Social/Cultural Construction of Technology (SCOT) model (Bijker 1997), explores the impact of the Islamic religion and culture on scientific and technological change in the spheres of gold and silver minting, copper working, and iron smelting towards reconstructing the role and impact of metals in Islamic society. The purpose of my reconstruction is to define and contextualize early Islamic Maghribi metallurgy for a region and time period poorly defined in the history of metallurgical technology. The development of this history of technology involves the investigation of technical design within a religious framework, presenting explanations for the motivations of the use of certain metals from both their intrinsic and instrumental properties. This specialized history is important in that it provides information of significance on the larger scope of the history of technology and science and on the structure of Islamic society. This study uses multiple lines of evidence, including historical documents, numismatic evidence, and archaeological data in an effort to situate the role of early Islamic Maghribi metallurgy into the framework of the history of African metallurgy. The religious and cultural meanings of metals are outlined through the compilation of their mention in the qur’ān, the Hadīth, and the chronicles of travelers. Coinage survey positions the political and economic role of the Islamic state, and addresses the stability of western-periphery polities within the state and the concerns of a dogmatically motivated bimetal system. The site of al-Basra, Morocco, a state mint under the Idrisid rule (A.D. 788-959), is the source for the excavated metal materials; the metal artifacts, unprocessed minerals, slag, non-metal tools associated with the metal production, and metallurgical facilities are described in their historical context. This dissertation presents, for the first time ever, an English translation of al-dawHa al-mushtabika fī DawābiT dār al-sika (The Intricate Tree in the Realm of the House of Minting). This fourteenth century Arabic text details the meaning, production, and uses of metals in medieval Islamic society, and serves as a unit of study within Maghribi metallurgical technology. An ethnographic study of the metal artisans of Fes, Morocco provides a modern-day reflection to this reconstruction. This study supports the SCOT methodology by identifying the relationships between scientific and technological practices and systems of belief. The Islamic culture and its practices -- which were part codified religion, part belief system -- were subject to change based on the contextual situations of the society. This study demonstrates that the society’s metallurgical practices were subject to the same conditions. The metallurgical know-how within Islamic Maghribi society was, and is, a direct reflection of the unifying themes embedded in the culture.