Running Water for the Officials, Rainwater for the Poor: Symbolic Use and Control of Water in Ottoman Crete
This paper deals with the issue of water management on the island of Crete from the beginning of the Ottoman–Venetian war in 1645 to the beginning of its Egyptian administration in 1830. Based primarily on information given by Kandiye’s (mod. Herakleion) Shariah court records, but also on a variety of published and unpublished archival material from Turkey, Greece, and France, it explores the socioeconomic aspects of water-resource exploitation in the island’s urban centers, analyzes the involvement of various local and imperial actors in water management, and locates the struggles created in the above-mentioned processes. Through a detailed analysis of the challenges faced by the administration and the population of an insular area with limited water resources, such as Crete, the article tries to take a fresh look at water management on the Ottoman periphery: It redirects the researchers’ focus from heavily-populated cities and large cultivated plains to the examination of smaller regions with no major hydraulic and irrigation networks and puts emphasis on the symbolic use of water in the socioeconomic context of the Ottoman Empire.