This volume deals with fundamental aspects of the material life of Islamic societies in the formative period. Three broad sections comprise the scope of the book: the first on housing, the second on textiles and clothing, and the final one on food and drink. In each section, studies based upon both archaeological and literary sources are included. The aim of the collection is to highlight features of continuity between the pre-Islamic cultures of the Middle East and those other aspects which were introduced as a consequence of the development and spread of the Islamic religious tradition. The editor's introduction to the volume reviews the developments and current trends in each area, and notes the problems in constructing knowledge of the material civilisation of the early Islamic period.

Contents: General editor's preface; Introduction; Shelter: Pre-Islamic traditions of domestic architecture in Islamic Egypt, Alexandre Lézine; A mansion in Fustat: a 12th-century description of a domestic compound in the ancient capital of Egypt, S.D. Goitein; The houses of Siraf, Iran, David Whitehouse; The Andalusi house in Siyãsa: attempt at a typological classification, Julio Navarro Palazón; The palm-frond house of the Batinah, Paolo M. Costa; Type and variation: Berber collective dwellings of the Northwestern Sahara, William J.R. Curtis; New caves for old: Beduin architecture in Petra, Piotr Bienkowski; Architectural provision against heat in the Orient, Alexander Badawy; Textiles and clothing: The Tirãz system, R.B. Serjeant; Notes on costume from Arabic sources, Reuben Levy; New data on Islamic textiles from the Geniza, Yedida K. Stillman; Abbasid silks of the 9th century, Ernst Kühnel; Covered with flowers: medieval floor coverings excavated at Fustat, Louise W. Mackie; A medieval face-veil from Egypt, Gillian Eastwood; Food and drink: The most ancient recipes of all, J. Bottéro; The Arab agricultural revolution and its diffusion, 700-1100, A. Watson; Dietetic aspects of food in al-Andalus, Expiración García Sánchez; Pots and fire: the cooking processes in the cookbooks of al-Andalus and the Maghreb, Manuela Marín; Muzzawar: counterfeit fare for fasts and fevers, David Waines and Manuela Marín; Al-Rãzî on when and how to eat fruit, Rosa Kuhne Brabant; Abu Zayd al-Balkhi on the nature of forbidden drink: a medieval Islamic controversy, David Waines, Index.