Reinfandt, Lucian: Strong Letters at the Mamluk Court. Version 01
Written letters were, together with oral messages and gifts, decisive elements in diplomatic encounters. For the later medieval period, here: the Mamlūk sultanate, there is an abundance of sources, be it original documents preserved in library collections and archives or copies of documents preserved in administrative manuals and chronicles. Previous diplomatic research on administrative letters in both fields – original documents and literary sources – has mostly concentrated on the textual contents of documents. Material aspects, like support, script, format, or folding of documents have been meticulously recorded in editions as secondary information relevant to the specialist only, while aspects of writing and reading techniques, transportation, and archiving have been left over more or less to social historians not directly engaged in the editing of documents. Only recently has the intrinsic, indeed indispensable, nexus been realised between textual and non-textual aspects of documents (John Wansbrough; Tamer El-Leithy). The paper addresses the share of textual and ceremonial aspects in Arabic administrative letters on the basis of original letters from the Mamlūk period.