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Medieval NubiaA Social and Economic History$
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Giovanni R. Ruffini

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199891634

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199891634.001.0001

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Money, Rent, Taxes, and Investment

Money, Rent, Taxes, and Investment

(p.171) 7 Money, Rent, Taxes, and Investment
Medieval Nubia

Giovanni R. Ruffini

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Nubian economic and fiscal issues. Old Nubian accounts show patterns in the gold and silver payments that are consistent with an exchange rate between the two metals. This rate matches the exchange rate between gold and silver currencies then used in Islamic Egypt. This suggests that the Nubian economy was monetized and that its currency market was integrated with that of its neighbors. This conclusion gives us a way to examine the relative price of land in Nubia. The land prices in the Nubian sales, when compared to the price of goods in Egypt, suggest that Nubian land was cheap. This is an intriguing conclusion given the apparent purpose of the Old Nubian accounts. Further patterns in those accounts?for instance, the repetition of specific payment amounts?suggest that they record taxes and rents on land. The result is a system similar to that of Byzantine Egypt, where rent and taxes are collected and recorded without distinction between them. Given the prominence of Nubia’s highest officials in these sales, we are likely dealing with land purchased for investment income. Comparing our rent payments against prices in Egypt shows a favorable rate of return.

Keywords:   currency, exchange rates, rent, taxesaccounts, monetization

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