This is a book about the economic and social realities of a world that existed in the Middle East up to our days, seen through the Kaleidoscope of one important town - Jerusalem. The reconstruction of all the guilds that functioned during the Ottoman period draws on the untapped archives of the local court of Muslim Jerusalem (XVIth-XVIIIth centuries) - but it includes a plethora of information on the Christians and Jews of that town who actively participated in its economic life.
About 50 different guilds are described: Goldsmiths and blacksmiths, tourist guides and undertakers, tailors and carpenters, soap makers and cotton weavers, beauticians and bookbinders. The modus operandi of each guild, and of the system as a whole, are analysed and presented for the first time as precursers of civil society.
The book holds also 19 original documents - facsimiles plus translations - illustrating the activity of several central guilds.