ISSN: 0041-4255
e-ISSN: 2791-6472

Kayhan Orbay

Keywords: agricultural productivity, labour productivity, agricultural economy, agricultural revolution


Ottoman historiography considers the survey registers as the primary source for demographic history and studies on these registers reveal the 16th century as a period of rapid population rise. The rich content of the registers encouraged the historians to estimate agricultural production and productivity for the 16th and 17th centuries. Thus, economic historians attempted to understand economic developments by linking changes in population and agricultural economy. Historians widely concluded that there was an increase in agricultural production lagging behind the population rise in the 16th century. This paper reviews the works on agricultural productivity in the Western economic history, then it focuses on the works on Ottoman agricultural history. It reconsiders the question pool in the historiography, deals with the pitfalls in archival sources and methods for calculating production and productivity. Archival sources for the Ottoman agricultural history are not limited to the survey registers. The waqf registers can contribute signifi cantly to the economic and demographic history. There are many records in these registers which need to be considered by the economic historians in studying production and productivity matters. Based on these records in the waqf registers this paper concludes that archival sources from which production and productivity data were extracted have several drawbacks and challenges assumptions used in calculations. Therefore, this paper argues that margin of error in estimation is too large and casts doubt on alleged production and productivity figures.