Logo: HIMME written in Monumental Kufic
Historical Index of the Medieval Middle East

The Middle East has seen the expansion of empires and the rise of world religions. The medieval period (600s-1500s) in particular spans from the first appearance of Islam and conquests by Arab Muslims to the extension of Islam as a world religion, but one increasingly under Turkic rule as the Ottoman Empire conquered most of the Middle East.

The medieval Middle East included a bewildering variety of written languages (Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Coptic, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Pahlavi, Persian, Syriac, and Turkish, to name only the most significant). In order to study the medieval Middle East as the historical unity which it was, we must gain access to the broad range of available sources.

What will HIMME be?

The Historical Index of the Medieval Middle East will be a reference work to expand both scholarly and educated public understanding of a critical period of human history. HIMME will provide search and browse interfaces for accessing tens of thousands of entries about medieval Middle Eastern people, places, and cultural practices (such as Qur’an recitation ceremonies, marriage, or tax collection). Read more...

Sample Entries

There will be tens of thousands of entries (see table here), but before being published, more data will be collected, and the data must be verified and transformed into the proper format. At present, there are several entries available:


The first entry is minimal: a single reference to an obscure religious scholar. This indicates how HIMME would allow someone researching female ḥadīth transmitters to find a reference in an unexpected source. The entry for Osman I is a basic entry, demonstrating how this important political figure is discussed in sources in three languages. The entry for ʿAlī reveals HIMME’s potential for allowing scholars to consider how images of this foundational Islamic figure changed over time, even in Christian sources.


The person entries and Jazīrat Ibn ʿUmar indicate what an entry will look like using only the data already collected. Jazīrat Ibn ʿUmar was a small but strategic town on the Tigris River, inhabited in the medieval period by Arabs, Armenians, and Syriacs. The entry for Mosul is a bit more elaborate, showing what a record might look like when the data already collected is augmented by user submissions.


The first entry shows how Muslim ritual practice was noticed not only by Muslim authors, but also by local Armenians and Jewish travelers. The second indicates both Arabic and Greek authors commenting on a particular military practice. The third shows that beliefs in supernatural beings can also be regarded as a practice, and in this instance a Syriac source gives information about pre-Islamic Arabian paganism. The fourth sample entry likewise shows Islamic eschatology attested not only in Arabic but also in Syriac sources.

Want to Learn More?

Read about this project. Questions can be directed to the Principal Investigator, Thomas A. Carlson.



This project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or of Oklahoma State University.