This essay addresses the revival of culturalist assumptions in historical archival studies and suggests an alternative framework. Rather than provenance, it privileges textual circulation; rather than civilizational divides between supposedly distinct “European” and “Islamic” archivalities, it highlights mutability and commensurability as defining elements of a broadly shared, if inherently dynamic, internally complex, and transactionally defined early modern archivality. We first show how the historiography on early modern archives has inadvertently perpetuated a myopic Eurocentric view of the centralized archive as a key aspect of European archivality. We analyze how the construct “Islamic archivality,” when proffered as a comparative counterpoint to such European archivality, not only promotes an outdated understanding of “Islam” (and, indeed “Europe”) as a discrete, transhistorical phenomenon, but rests on a limited set of mostly pre-Ottoman, medieval examples. By positing “Islam” as fundamentally premodern, this historiography sidesteps significant shared late antique genealogies of textual practices and mobilities across a vast early modern region that traverses modern continental/civilizational configurations. In lieu of the prevalent comparative mode, which juxtaposes civilizational blocs and then selectively contrasts specific archival institutions and practices, we suggest concentrating on intersections and circulations of documents and practices across ethnolinguistic, territorial, and juridical boundaries. Drawing on examples from our research in Ottoman diplomatic archives, we challenge scholars of early modern archivality to move beyond fixed notions of “European,” and “non-European,” “centralized” and “decentralized” archives, and “original” and “copy,” as primary indices of comparison, and attend to the social life of documents and their mutability through circulation.