In the period 2009-14 a relational prosopographical database MP3 was constructed at Ghent University for the study of late medieval Syro-Egyptian political elites, institutions and practices, in the context of a specific collaborative research project on ‘Mamluk’ state formation. In the period 2015-16 new funding was obtained to create from MP3’s Filemaker 12 database a more widely accessible, connected and multifunctional research infrastructure and to expand its textual component and analytical potential. This project is currently known as the MPP project, and it now is conceptualised as a pilot project for the Islamic History Open Data Platform (IHODP) that we are developing.

IHODP will be an Open Source & Open Access Data Platform for ’Medieval’ Arabic Humanities Research. It is being constructed from, and integrates, several interconnected open data projects, including MPP and the Arabic historiography project MMS-II. IHODP will be a flexible, sustainable, user-friendly and multi-purpose solution, integrated in UGent’s IT-environment, an active partner of the semantic web, and allowing for the creation of multiple independent and/or integrated data projects with freely definable multiple user roles, default back up and export facilities, and opportunities to work with various metadata ontologies, annotation tools, and Arabic text corpora.

After a public tender procedure the development of MPP and IHODP was awarded to open source developers INUITS ( (2017-20). Development happens in a Drupal environment and Symfony2 PHP framework. For full Arabic text indexing and searching the Apache SOLR platform is used, in combination with the Arabic Light10 stemmer. Metadata are stored as RDF data organised along the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model ( and stored in a Virtuoso Database. SPARQL is used for querying the RDF graph, directly, via Drupal UIs, and as an API. The project is funded by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO/ Hercules Foundation) and by the European Research Council (ERC CoGr MMS-II). It is a joint project of UGent (Jo Van Steenbergen) and UAntwerpen (Malika Dekkiche).


MPP contains data organised in the following key entities (defined by CIDOC-CRM):


MPP consists of the following components:

(some parts still under construction)

  1. The database structure: the MP3 architecture of fields, relationships, lay-outs and records will be adapted and adjusted to MPP’s wider and more complex needs.
  2. The datasets: the extant datasets (MP3, MD) will be imported into MPP’s Open Source backend-database, and updated/upgraded to suit the adapted database structure
  3. The interfaces: a user-friendly interface will be created, inspired by the experience with MP3; a web-based application for multiple project management will be created as an alternative interface for wider use.
  4. User-friendly data-mining and visualisation tools will be created and implemented


A poster presentation  of the project (September 2019) with some more info.


MPP currently holds data for the following periods:


 784-872/1382-1468, broken down into the following six periods:

4.1 & 4.2: 784-815/1382-1412 (partial)

5.1 815-825/1412-1422 & 5.1b 825-842/1422-1438

5.2 842-857/1438-1453 & 5.2b 857-872/1453-1468


MPP currently holds data from the following main sources:

 (input of some ongoing) (for full bibliographical details, see the Mamluk Bibliography Project):


* Narrative sources: chronicles

  • al-Maqrizi’s Sulūk (ed. Ashour)
  • al-‘Ayni’s ‘Iqd (ed. Qarmūt)
  • Ibn Taghrī Birdī’s Nujūm (ed. Popper; ed. Shams al-Dīn)
  • Ibn Taghrī Birdī’s Ḥawādith (ed. Popper; ed. Shalṭuṭ)
  • Ibn al-Ḥimṣī’s Ḥawādith al-Zamān (ed. Fayāḍ Ḥarfūsh) (partial)
  • Ibn Ḥajar’s Inbāʾ al-Ghumr (ed. ʿAbd al-Muʿīd Khān) (partial)
  • ʿAbd al-Bāsiṭ’s Nayl al-Amal (ed. Tadmurī) (partial)
  • al-Ṣayrafī’s Nuzhat al-Nufūs (ed. Ḥabashī) (partial)
  • Ibn Iyās’ Badāʾiʿ al-Zuhūr (ed. Muṣṭafā) (partial)


* Narrative sources: biographical dictionaries

  • Ibn Taghrī Birdī’s Manhal (ed. Amīn) (vols. 1-12 – complete)
  • al-Sakhāwī’s al-Ḍawʾ al-Lāmiʿ (ed. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān) (partial)


* Court manuals etc.:

  • Ibn Faḍl Allāh’s Masālik (ed. Sayyid)
  • Ibn Faḍl Allāh’s Taʿrīf (ed. Ḥusayn)
  • Ibn Nāẓir al-Jaysh’s Tathqīf (ed. Vesely)
  • al-Qalqashandī’s Ṣubḥ (ed. Ḥātim)
  • al-Maqrīzī’s Khiṭaṭ
  • al-Ẓāhirī’s Zubda (ed. Ravaisse)


Transliteration rules:


consonants: ʾ – b – t – th – j – ḥ – kh – d – dh – r – z – s – sh – ṣ – ḍ – ṭ – ẓ – ʿ – gh – f – q – k – l – m – n – h – w – y

vowels: a/ā – i/ī – u/ū

– simple Arabic-specific consonants and vowels: ʾ, ā, ḥ, ḍ, ṣ, ṭ, ẓ, ʿ, ī, ū

– composed Arabic-specific consonants: th, kh, dh, sh, gh

– hamza is also used as initial letter (except of course al-, ism …)

– no nunation, but wasla-connection (eg. ʾAbu l-Faḍl instead of ʾAbū al-Faḍl)

– no assimilation of al- (eg. al-shams, not ash-shams)

– nisba: ī / īya

– tāʾ marbūṭa: a / at (in iḍāfa)

  • in most cases, simplified transliteration can be used for searches (eg. safad will retrieve all references that include the name Ṣafad, just as muhammad will do for Muḥammad, bugha for Bughā, walid for wālid, Wālid or al-Walīd …)
  • in the case of hamza or ʿayn,  the correct characters ʾ and ʿ can be used to retrieve data or the wildcard *
  • single quotes or “=” can be used to retrieve exact and specific data (eg. =Jaqmaq; ‘Jaqmaq’)

For access of beta version of MPP on IH0DP click here