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Considering the building materials and climatic conditions in the medieval Middle East, fires must have been a major problem. This article provides a first survey of sources which are relevant for studying the impact of fires in urban environments. Evidence can be found, for example, in historiographies such as Ibn Kathīr's The Beginning and the End, or in legal discussions. Most fires mentioned in these sources were caused during riots or war, or by accidents in markets. The article also analyses how far fires fit into the general pattern of discussions around disasters in medieval Arabic literature.


This article was originally published in Historical Social Research, available at

Alternative title: Die Katastrophe aus Menschenhand: Stadtbrände im mittelalterlichen Nahen Osten



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