Being able to match possessions to their owners and knowing the value of those possessions (and sometimes their description) from the pages of the inventory registers open an intimate window into eighteenth-century Damascene society on all socio economic levels.
Concentrating on thirteen years of Damascene history, he has successfully raised pertinent questions about consumer culture and consumption trends in eighteenth-century Damascus and has revealed the complexity of analyzing such questions and the intricacy of placing consumer history of late premodern Damascus within the larger scope not only of the Ottoman Empire but also of the Mediterranean as it increasingly became tied into European imperial history of the nineteenth century and vice versa.
Beyond these humorous barbs lay the linguistic zone of truly offensive speech, covering all the profanities and other shocking terms that Damascenes could hardly bring themselves to utter without some secret pang of shame or guilt.
Like other peoples of the Mediterranean region, Damascenes favored a relatively dramatic style of self-presentation which made plenty of allowance for swearing and other flamboyant forms of expression.
Damascenes did not keep their word merely to avoid scandal and derision.
Having no explanation for their bizarre antics, which today might be attributed to mental disorders, Damascenes believed that many of these holy men (and women) were somehow "charmed" (majdhub) by the hand of God, which suffused their bodies with divine grace (baraka) and lent a special efficacy to their prayers.
Damascenes saw prayer as a kind of all-purpose medicine; it was the best insurance against every catastrophe and the most soothing balm in the teeth of misfortune.
113) Or as sociolinguists might put it today, Damascenes viewed their pronouncements as "performative utterances", in which the distinction between words and deeds almost imperceptibly melted away.
The most articulate members of Damascene society, who come closest within earshot, were the ulama, the members of the Muslim religious establishment.