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Project Overview

Tomb of Ali Pasha and Fatima in the Court of the Seraglio, Ioannina - Fisher Son & Co. London (Ca. 1850)

Project Overview

MapOE’s main focus is a regional order, which was consolidated under a magnate, Ali Pasha of Ioannina. Ali Pasha was formally an Ottoman governor, appointed by the central authority in Istanbul. However, he created an autonomous province, with a center of governance in Ioannina. He gathered a multiethnic sizable militia force from local Albanian, Vlach, and Greek communities; he organized a network of administrative cadres constituted by Turkish, Greek, Albanian, Italian and French experts. He mobilized a group of agricultural managers to enhance rural production. Ali Pasha built his realm, not only as a governor, but also as a patron-creditor. He initiated a complex credit system, through which he extended loans to different notable families under his patronage, rural communities, urban guilds, and merchants. His credit system transformed his realm into, what we call, an order of debt, which linked notable individuals, families, and communities in Epirus to Ali Pasha (and to each other) with various financial obligations.

Ali Pasha and his household commissioned a number of public buildings and enhanced the transportation with the construction of bridges and road systems throughout Epirus. With the collaborations of Vlach masons and bridge architects, who controlled hundreds of quarries in the Pindus mountains, Ali Pasha transformed the region through vast infrastructure projects.

Louis Dupré, Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, Ismail Bey and Mehmed Pasha, Sons of Veli Pasha of Thessaly and Grandsons of Ali Pasha of Ioannina (1825)


In 1822, Ali Pasha of Ioannina was executed by the Ottoman administration after a year of political confrontation with ruling elites in Istanbul. After the Ottoman government eliminated Ali Pasha, his household and administrative apparatus, a massive confiscation process took place in Epirus. Settlements of debts and obligations, liquidations of assets, and reallocation of Ali Pasha's immense rural and urban holdings continued for at least five years. As a result, the Ottoman fiscal experts prepared a number of inventories, itemizing thousands of properties (real estate, lands, animals, and objects), seized by the Ottoman state, as well as tens of account books reflecting debit and credit relations between Ali Pasha and different individuals and communities. During the settlements, the Ottoman administration, Albanian notables and the Greek communities renegotiated collective debts owed to Ali Pasha and the Ottoman center. These collective negotiations triggered political claims for Greek Independence, as various communities refused to pay the debts, and the Ottoman authorities either offered reductions or pardoning for debt or forced the communities to pay. These settlements were also intermingled with episodes of regional unrest of the Greek communities in the Peloponnese, which evolved into the Greek Revolution, and eventually the creation of the Greek State.

Project Significance

MapOE breaks new ground by taking up the hitherto insurmountable linguistic and methodological challenges involved in bringing this diverse material into dialogue by using the digital tools of spatial and textual analysis with a big data approach. The purpose is to visualize the breadth and depth of the networks of economic, social and political development in a micro-cosmos of the Ottoman Empire. We visualize environmental and infrastructural developments in a hyper-mountainous topography, complex political and economic relations and various events occurring in a defined spatio-temporal context (Ali Pasha’s rule in Epirus).

We argue that this unprecedentedly approach, namely visualizing three multi layered spectrums- infrastructural, relational and eventual - through various digital media, will have the potential to transform the use of digital historical inquiry, especially in order to understand how regional orders came into being, operated, intermingled with other orders (local, imperial and global), and finally collapsed. Our visualizations and graphs will not only be final visual products, but they will help to categorize, quantify, and discern the complexities as well as shed light on easily overlooked connections and synchronicities, which are only visible when looking at things at a large scale and in motion. This level of analysis is what the digitizing, building of databases, categories for analysis, etc. allows for, and it can then be investigated further by going back to the original material. One of the strengths of our project is its ability to employ multiple methodologies and diverse database extracted from multilingual historical sources, which is only possible with the technical support of CESTA and our multi-disciplinary and international research team.