Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : Different societies have various definitions and names for their units of residence, such as “cities” or “villages”. This article examines the categories people had for settlements in Palestine from the seventh to the thirteenth century. A rich corpus of textual sources is used, comprising chronicles, geographies, letters and epigraphy, in Arabic, Hebrew, Latin and Greek. The article presents a coherent set of five contemporary terms up to the eleventh century, including city (madīna), town (qarya), village (kafr or ḍayʿa), fortress (ḥiṣn) and monastery (dayr), and introduces the changes in that terminology that occurred in the twelfth–thirteenth centuries. The results of this analysis help to reconstruct – through texts alone – the relations between neighbouring places and changes in these regional systems over time. The article discusses the meaning of these terms, as well as ribāṭ and metropolis (e.g. qaṣaba), and calls for a more refined interpretation of these terms in modern research.