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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2020

Establishing Local Elite Authority in Egypt Through Arbitration and Mediation

Petra Sijpesteijn

Abstract

Using evidence from Arabic, Coptic and Greek papyri, this paper examines the role and organization of and individuals involved in mediation in the four centuries following the mid-7th-century Muslim conquest of Egypt. Conflict resolution, the actors involved therein and whether the process took place in an institutional framework or in a more informal environment all inform us regarding changing power relations in the province. The effect of shifting power dynamics between members of the local Egyptian elite and the incoming Muslim rulers as well as the effect this had on social organization, the position of local elites and their relations with their indigenous constituencies and the authorities will be discussed. The paper also considers what this says about modifications in Egyptian elite composition and how these modifications relate to developments at the caliphal center. Finally, the question of how the role of local elites as arbitrators can be connected to their position vis-à-vis the Egyptian population on the one hand and the empire’s political center on the other is examined.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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