This article examines Ottoman responses to Iranians bringing corpses for burial in holy Shi`i sites in Ottoman Iraq, and focuses on questions of sovereignty, frontiers, commerce, and sanitation. Bringing together the Shi`is of both sides of the Ottoman-Iranian frontier, this curious border crossing constituted a major point of contention between the Ottoman Empire and Safavid and Qajar Iran. One of the most persistent religio-economic activities of Middle Eastern history, corpse traffic continued almost unabated until the emergence of cholera as a global health threat. The emergence of cholera and discussions around corpse traffic and pilgrimage to the `atabat helped transform one of the longest running unresolved issues of the Islamic world: namely, the undefined border between the Ottoman Empire and Iran.

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