Archaeology and material culture by dov51579

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                                                             Archaeology and material culture
                                                                                    marcus milwright

                                 The last four decades have witnessed a massive expansion in the archae-
                                 ology of the Islamic past in regions stretching from the Iberian Peninsula
                                 to Indonesia. While the coverage of research is far from complete – for
                                 instance, the first/seventh- and second/eighth-century occupation phases
                                 in key cities such as Bas ra, Damascus and Baghdad remain largely unex-
                                 plored, and excavations are not permitted in the Holy Cities of Mecca and
                                 Medina – archaeology is now able to provide important insights into the
                                 study of the early Islamic period. Aside from its obvious role in the
                                 discovery and recording of artefacts, the discipline’s most notable contri-
                                 bution to the study of early Islam is in the identification of economic,
                                 demographic and environmental processes that occur over the course of
                                 decades or centuries.
                                    A recurrent concern in the archaeological study of early Islam is
                                 the degree to which the physical record exhibits significant continuity with
                                 the centuries prior to 1/622 (i.e. the Late Antique period). Conversely, the
                                 analysis of spatial and temporal patterns in the archaeological record from
                                 the first/seventh to the fourth/tenth centuries can reveal the emergence of
                                 new socio-cultural or economic phenomena. These competing dynamics are
                                 examined here with reference to four themes. The first part summarises the
                                 earliest evidence for a distinctive Muslim identity in the archaeological
                                 record. The second part assesses changes in the countryside with particular
                                 emphasis on the elite country residences (qas r, pl. qusr) of Greater Syria and
                                                                              .         .u
                                 the evolution of complex irrigation systems in different parts of the Islamic
                                 world. The third part discusses the changes in the urban environment from
                                 the Late Antique period to the creation of new cities in Syria and Iraq during
                                 the early qAbbsid caliphate (132–279/750–892). The final part addresses
                                 changes in international trade from the Late Antique period to around

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                                                                    Archaeology and material culture

                                               Muslim identity in the archaeological record
                      The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (dated by an inscription to 72/691f.)
                      marks a watershed in Islamic material culture – not just in the fact of its
                      remarkable preservation, but also in the evidence it gives about the new sense
                      of artistic ambition among the Muslim elite. Leaving aside the Qurpn pages in
                       . a¯
                      Hijzı script and inscriptions dated on palaeographic grounds, we are left with
                      a small group of artefacts from the period prior to the construction of the
                      Dome of the Rock. Bilingual papyri (from 22/642) and Arab-Sasanian coins
                      (drachm/dirham, from 31/651f.) bear the words bism allh (‘in the name of
                      God’). (see fig. 16.7). Longer inscriptions appear on the gravestone of one qAbd
                      al-Rahmn ibn Khayr in Egypt (31/652) and on graffiti in the Hijz (from 40/
                             . a                                                        . a
                      660f.). Although these examples carry recognisably Muslim invocations, refer-
                      ences to Muhammad and his status as the prophet of Allh are absent.
                      Muqwiya ibn Abı Sufyn (r. 41–60/661–80) is the first caliph whose honorific,
                           a              ¯    a
                      amır al-mupminın (‘commander of the faithful’), written in Arabic, or tran-
                         ¯              ¯
                      scribed into Greek or Persian, appears on coins, papyri and monumental
                      inscriptions.** Coins dating from 66/685f. until the minting of the first purely
                      epigraphic issue of 77/696f. are notable for the inclusion of versions of the
                      profession of faith (shahda), as well as the name of Muhammad (see
                                                  a                                        .
                      chapter 16).1452
                         In architecture the picture is even more sparse; prior to the Dome of the
                      Rock we lack any buildings with inscriptions, and all dating is circumstantial.
                      Recently it has been suggested that the first construction phase identified in
                      Hamilton’s survey of the Aqs Mosque in Jerusalem should be dated to the
                      rule of Muqwiya in the 40s/660s.1453 Excavation of the dr al-imra (gover-
                                    a                                               a        a
                      nor’s residence) in the garrison town (misr, pl. amsr) of Kfa revealed a large
                                                                 .        . a      u
                      brick building surrounded by an intervallum and a fortified wall on the qibla
                      side of the mosque (of which only one re-entrant corner was located). The dr a
                      al-imra itself was constructed in three phases, the earliest of which may have

                            ** A graffito at Qq al-Muqtadil near al-Hijr in Saudi Arabia, dated 24/644, does contain a
                               reference to the death of qUmar ibn al-Khattb (r. 13–23/634–44), though without
                                                                               . .a
                               employing the title of caliph or the honorific amır al-mupminı See www.islamic-
                                                                                     ¯          ¯n.
                          1452 Jeremy Johns, ‘Archaeology and the history of early Islam: The first seventy years’,
                               JESHO, 46, 4 (2003), pp. 414–24; Robert Hoyland, ‘New documentary texts and the
                               early Islamic state’, BSOAS, 69, 3 (2006);
                          1453 Jeremy Johns, ‘The “House of the Prophet” and the concept of the mosque’, in Jeremy
                               Johns (ed.), Bayt al-Maqdis: Jerusalem and Early Islam, Oxford Studies in Islamic Art, 9,
                               part 2 (Oxford, 1999), pp. 62–4.

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                                                                              The New Cambridge History of Islam

                                 been built by the governor, Ziyd ibn Abı Sufyn, in around 50/670
                                                                       a           ¯     a
                                 (fig. 17.1).1454 The earliest positive evidence for the dating of the qusr in
                                 Bild al-Shm (Greater Syria) consists of a graffito carrying the date of 92/
                                     a       a
                                 710 in Qasr al-Kharna in Jordan (fig. 17.2), but recent archaeological research
                                           .         a
                                 has provided plausible evidence for two earlier palatial structures. The first,
                                 Khirbat al-Karak in northern Israel, has been associated with Sinnabra/
                                 Sinnabris, a palace employed by both Muqwiya and qAbd al-Malik. The
                                 second is al-Bakhrp, a Tetrarchic fort (293–305 CE) south of Palmyra, that
                                 was converted into a Muslim qasr through the construction, probably before
                                 65/684, of an additional fortified zone to the north-east.1455
                                    This small body of data suggests that the period 1–72/622–91f. was one of
                                 rapid evolution for both the practices associated with the faith of Islam and the
                                 administrative framework of the nascent Islamic state. That so little that is
                                 recognisably ‘Islamic’ has been recovered is not, of course, due to a lack of
                                 archaeological activity; excavations and surveys have revealed considerable
                                 evidence of first/seventh-century occupation in the Middle East and North
                                 Africa. The overwhelming impression, however, is that the Arab conquests
                                 did not bring about radical and sudden change in the daily lives of the
                                 inhabitants of these regions. Continuity with the practices of Late Antiquity
                                 is evident in many aspects of the archaeological record into the second/eighth
                                 century and later.

                                                                                          The countryside
                                 While knowledge of the urban palaces created by the Umayyad elite is
                                 limited,1456 the qusr (often misleadingly described as ‘desert castles’) survive
                                 in much larger numbers in diverse environments ranging from the Syrian
                                 desert to the plains of Jordan and the sub-tropical Jordan valley. Commonly
                                 adopting a square plan with a fortified outer wall and square or round towers
                                 at the corners, this building type derives ultimately from the Roman castrum
                                 (fig. 17.3). Recent research has highlighted the importance of fifth- and

                                     1454 K. Creswell, A short account of early Muslim architecture, rev. and suppl. James Allan
                                          (Aldershot, 1989), pp. 10–15; Johns, ‘The first seventy years’, p. 417.
                                     1455 For Khirbat al-Karak and al-Bakhrp see Denis Genequand, ‘Umayyad castles: The shift
                                          from Late Antique military architecture to early Islamic palatial building’, in Hugh
                                          Kennedy (ed.), Muslim military architecture in Greater Syria: From the coming of Islam to the
                                          Ottoman Period, History of Warfare 35 (Leiden and Boston, 2006), pp. 10–12, figs. 2.5, 6.3.
                                     1456 See, however, Alastair Northedge, Studies on Roman and Islamic qAmmn, vol. I:   a
                                          History, site and architecture, British Academy Monographs in Archaeology 3 (Oxford
                                          and New York, 1992).

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                                                                    Archaeology and material culture

                      17.1 Plan of the Dr al-Imra at Kfa, Iraq, first/seventh century and later. After
                                        a       a       u
                      K. Creswell, Early Muslim Architecture (revised edition, 1969), volume I.1, fig. 18.

                      sixth-century Syrian fortified country residences of al-Andarın, Istabl qAntar
                                                                                   ¯    .
                      and probably Dumayr as intermediaries in the evolution of the specific
                      characteristics of the second/eighth-century qusr.1457 While the opulent
                      decoration encountered on sites such as Khirbat al-Mafjar and Qusayr qAmra
                      offers intriguing insights into the culture of Umayyad princely pleasure
                      (known otherwise from textual sources), archaeological interpretations are
                      increasingly focusing upon the roles played by the qusr in the cultivation of
                      land and the maintenance of trade routes. For instance, an early Islamic
                      perimeter wall enclosing an irrigated area of some 535 hectares has been

                                              1457 Genequand, ‘Umayyad castles’, pp. 20–4, figs. 6.2, 7.2, 7.4.

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                                 17.2 Exterior of Qasr al-Kharna, Jordan (before 92/710). Photo: Marcus Milwright
                                                    .         a

                                 17.3 Late Roman castrum known as Qasr al-Bashır, Jordan (293–305). Photo: Marcus
                                                                    .         ¯

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                                                                    Archaeology and material culture

                      identified at Maqn in southern Jordan.1458 In the cases of Qasr al-Hayr
                                         a                                                 .     .
                      al-Gharbı and Khirbat al-Mafjar the cultivation of surrounding land involved
                      the renovation of Roman dams and aqueducts.1459
                         Key considerations in the placement of many of the qusr were proximity to
                      the ancient routes running north from the Hijz into Syria, and the availability
                      of water. For instance, the existence of a major route from the Arabian city of
                      Taym north via Wdı Sirhn toward the plain of Balqp in Jordan helps to
                            a              a ¯ .a                                  a
                      account for the locations of Qasr al-Tuba, Qasr al-Kharna (fig. 17.2) and
                                                         .               .           a
                      Qusayr qAmra. One of the northern routes from the Wdı Sirhn passed
                          .                                                           a ¯  .a
                      around the eastern fringes of the basalt desert of southern Syria, and this
                      makes sense of the otherwise remote Qasr al-Burqp and Jabal Says (both of
                                                                  .          u
                      which were well provided with cisterns, and the latter also with a spring).1460
                      Several important Umayyad qusr can also be found along the Strata
                      Diocletiana (established c. 297) linking Damascus to the Euphrates via
                      Palmyra and Rusfa. Another significant route that received extensive patron-
                      age in the second/eighth and early third/ninth centuries was the Darb
                      Zubayda leading from Mecca to Kfa. Reconnaissance along this road has
                      revealed numerous fortified structures, as well as hundreds of wells, cisterns
                      and rain catchment devices designed to provide a reliable water supply for the
                      pilgrims, merchants and others passing through this arid region.1461
                         Surveys in Iran and Iraq have demonstrated the extent to which the
                      agricultural prosperity of the early Islamic period was reliant upon the
                      engineering of the Sasanian period (c. 224–651), and earlier dynasties.
                                                                               a .         ¯
                      Comprising large canals (such as the sixth-century Ktul al-Kisrawı drawing
                      water from Tigris river and feeding the Diyl plain in Iraq), underground
                      channels (qant) and networks of smaller irrigation canals, these systems
                      greatly enhanced the productivity of lands under Sasanian control. The
                      most intensively studied of these is the ancient canal system of the Diyl  aa
                      plain east of Baghdad. While both the methodology employed by Adams and
                      his conclusions should be assessed in the light of criticisms made by economic
                      historians and revisions made to his ceramic chronology, this study gives

                          1458 Denis Genequand, ‘Maqn, an early Islamic settlement in southern Jordan:
                               Preliminary report on the survey in 2002’, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of
                               Jordan, 47 (2003).
                          1459 Creswell, Short account, pp. 135, 180.
                          1460 Geoffrey King, ‘The distribution of sites and routes in the Jordanian and Syrian
                               deserts’, Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 20 (1987).
                          1461 Barbara Finster, ‘Die Reiseroute Kufa–Saqdı-Arabien in frühislamische Zeit’,
                                                                                u ¯
                               Baghdader Mitteilungen, 9 (1978); J. Wilkinson, ‘Darb Zubayda architectural documen-
                               tation program. B. Darb Zubayda-1979: The water resources’, Atlal, 4 (1980).

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                                 important insights into an agricultural region in the transition to Islamic rule.
                                 While there appears to have been a reduction in settlement levels and the
                                 number of active canals after the late Sasanian phase, the Diyl plain aa
                                 remained relatively prosperous until the end of the third/ninth century.
                                 Political instability, overtaxation and lack of investment probably contributed
                                 to the deterioriation of the agricultural infrastructure in subsequent
                                    In the Arabian Peninsula complex networks of open channels, qant and  a
                                 water mills have been identified inland from the Omanı port of Suhr.
                                                                                                ¯          . .a
                                 Allowing for the cultivation of 6,100 hectares, this system was probably
                                 constructed in the third/ninth and fourth/tenth centuries, when the area
                                 enjoyed considerable prosperity in international maritime trade.1463 The evi-
                                 dence from Spain suggests that, following the conquest in 92–100/711–20, the
                                 irrigation systems of the Islamic period synthesised aspects of the existing
                                 Roman–Visigothic infrastructure (which concentrated upon the provision of
                                 water to urban centres) with types of qant and rain-fed reservoirs introduced
                                 from the Middle East. These novel technologies in Islamic Spain were a
                                 necessary precursor to the introduction of new crops such as sugar cane,
                                 rice, mulberries, cotton and oranges.1464

                                                                                  The urban environment
                                 Important changes can be detected in the towns and cities of the Late Antique
                                 period. Excavations of urban centres report a broadly consistent pattern from
                                 the fourth century with urban institutions such as theatres, large public baths
                                 and pagan temples falling out of use, while church building proliferated.1465
                                 These changes reflect both the increasing irrelevance of theatrical perform-
                                 ance and other entertainment and the dominating role of the Church. Equally

                                     1462 Robert Adams, Land behind Baghdad: A history of settlement on the Diyala plains (Chicago
                                          and London, 1965), pp. 69–111. See also criticisms in Michael Morony, ‘Land use and
                                          settlement patterns in late Sasanian and early Islamic Iraq’, in Geoffrey King and
                                          Averil Cameron (eds.), The Byzantine and early Islamic Near East, vol. II: Land use and
                                          settlement patterns, Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam 1 (Princeton, 1994), pp.
                                     1463 T. J. Wilkinson, ‘Sohar ancient fields project: Interim report no. 1’, Journal of Oman
                                          Studies, 1 (1975). See also 2 (1976), pp. 75–80; 3 (1977), pp. 13–16.
                                     1464 Thomas Glick, ‘Hydraulic technology in al-Andalus’, in S. Jayyusi (ed.), The legacy of
                                          Muslim Spain (Leiden 1992); Andrew Watson, Agricultural innovation in the early Islamic
                                          world: The diffusion of crops and farming techniques, Cambridge Studies in Islamic
                                          Civilization (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 9–73, 103–11.
                                     1465 Hugh Kennedy, ‘From polis to madina: Urban change in Late Antique and early
                                          Islamic Syria’, Past and Present, 106 (February 1985).

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                      important is the tendency for public spaces – fora and the wide colonnaded
                      streets – to be encroached upon by private building. The abandonment of
                      wheeled transport in favour of pack animals may have been a contributing
                      factor, though the construction of shops, houses and industrial installations on
                      public thoroughfares presumably also reflects the decreasing authority of
                      municipal officials. This gradual evolution of the urban space through the
                      Late Antique and early Islamic periods has been demonstrated on numerous
                      excavations, of which the ancient Decapolis towns of Pella and Scythopolis
                      (Bet Shean, Baysn) in the Jordan valley are well-published examples.1466 The
                      discovery in Baysn of an impressive market ornamented with two inscrip-
                      tions in blue-and-gold mosaic built in 120/737f. by the caliph Hishm (r. 105–
                      25/724–43) demonstrates that the Umayyad elite did, at times, seek to invest in
                      the improvement of the urban infrastructure.1467 The remarkable persistence of
                      the idea of the ‘classical’ city is illustrated by the Islamic urban foundation of
                      qAnjar (c. 92–6/711–15) in Lebanon (fig. 17.4). The unfinished city preserves its
                      original rectangular plan with a tetrapylon marking the intersection of the
                      colonnaded north–south and east–west streets (cardo and decumanus
                         Similar dynamics can be detected in the towns and cities of Late Antique
                      North Africa, though there are significant differences in the overall chronol-
                      ogy. Excavations in Uchi Maius (now known as Henchir al-Douamis) in
                      Tunisia revealed the intrusion after 364–75 of a cistern, an olive oil press,
                      and later a kiln, into the Antique forum and surrounding areas. This radical
                      change correlates well with archaeological evidence in other towns for
                      increased agricultural productivity during Vandal rule.1469 A further shift
                      away from the classical urban plan in Uchi Maius is signalled by the con-
                      struction of a citadel in the late sixth century. A misr was established at
                      Qayrawn in 50/670, and settlements such as Sétif and Rougga probably
                      exhibit signs of continuous occupation into the first/seventh and second/
                      eighth centuries, but more commonly the archaeological record indicates a
                      hiatus in urban settlement from some time prior to the Islamic conquest until

                          1466 Anthony McNicoll et al., Pella in Jordan, 2 vols., Mediterranean Archaeology
                               Supplements 2 (Sydney, 1992), vol. II, pp. 145–98; Yoram Tsafrir and Gideon
                               Foerster, ‘From Scythopolis to Baysn: changing concepts of urbanism’, in King
                               and Cameron (eds.), Land use and settlement patterns, pp. 95–115.
                          1467 Elias Khamis, ‘Two wall mosaic inscriptions from the Umayyad market place in Bet
                               Shean/Baysn’, BSOAS, 64 (2001).
                          1468 Creswell, Short account, pp. 122–4.
                          1469 Anna Leone, ‘Late Antique North Africa: Production and changing use of buildings in
                               urban areas’, al-Masq, 15, 1 (March 2003), pp. 25–7.

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                                 17.4 Plan of the town of qAnjar, Lebanon. After Early Muslim Architecture (revised edition,
                                 1969), volume I.2, fig. 540.

                                 the fourth/tenth or fifth/eleventh centuries. Like a number of other settle-
                                 ments in Islamic North Africa (Ifrıqiya), the re-urbanisation of Uchi Maius
                                 comprised a mosque and an area of closely packed courtyard houses within
                                 the citadel.1470
                                    Inscriptions on items as diverse as coins, seals, documents, road markers
                                 and buildings performed the task of announcing the religious and political
                                 values of the Muslim elite, but this was also achieved through the imposition
                                 of new architectural forms. As already noted, the conquests were often
                                 followed by the founding of amsr, often in the vicinity of established settle-
                                 ments. Of the first/seventh-century amsr, only Kfa, Fustt (Egypt, 21/642)
                                                                         .a          u      .a .

                                     1470 Sauro Gelichi and Marco Milanese, ‘Problems in the transition toward the Medieval in
                                          Ifriqiya: First results from the archaeological excavations at Uchi Maius (Teboursouk,
                                          Béja)’, in M. Khanoussi, P. Ruggieri and C. Vismara (eds.), L’Africa Romana: Atti del XII
                                          Convegno di Studio (Sassari, 1998).

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                      17.5 Plans of mosques I (possibly 84/703: marked in black) and II (marked in grey) in Wsit.
                                                                                                             a .
                      After F. Safar, Wâsit, the Sixth Season’s Excavations (1945), fig. 5.

                      and Ayla (Jordan, c. 30/650) have been excavated, and in each case little
                      remains from the early decades of occupation.1471 Textual descriptions make
                      clear the central role played by the congregational mosque (masjid al-jmiq)
                      and the governor’s residence. The earliest mosque to preserve its original plan
                      was excavated in the Iraqi misr of Wsit (dated on historical grounds to 84/703)
                                                   .      a .
                      (fig. 17.5). Reviewing the archaeological data for the following decades, it
                      becomes apparent how rapidly the concept of the courtyard mosque was
                      adopted into the urban centres of the expanding Islamic empire. Early exam-
                      ples are known from widely dispersed locations including Banbhore and
                      al-Mansura in Pakistan (before 108/727f. and second/eighth century respec-
                      tively), Samarqand/Afrsiyb in Uzbekistan (c. 142–63/760–80), Ssa in Iran
                                              a a                                         u

                          1471 Roland-Pierre Gayraud, ‘Fostat: Évolution d’une capitale arabe du VIIe au XIIe siècle
                               d’après les fouilles d’Istabl qAntar’, in Roland-Pierre Gayraud (ed.), Colloque interna-
                               tional d’archéologie islamique, IFAO, Le Caire, 3–7 février 1993, Textes arabes et études
                               islamiques 36 (Cairo, 1999); Donald Whitcomb, ‘The misr of Ayla: Settlement at
                               qAqaba in the early Islamic period’, in King and Cameron (eds.), Land use and settlement
                               patterns, pp. 155–70.
                          1472 Fuad Safar, Wâsit: The sixth season’s excavations (Cairo, 1945), pp. 20, 24–7, fig. 11.

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                                 (second/eighth century), Sanqp in Yemen (92–6/711–16), Damascus in Syria
                                                               . a
                                 (86–96/705–16), Harrn in south-east Turkey (probably 127–32/744–50), the
                                                     .    a
                                 citadel and lower town of qAmmn in Jordan (c. 90–111/709–30 and before 133/
                                 750 respectively) and Cordoba in Spain (171–2/787–8).1473
                                    In archaeological terms what is of interest is the distribution of the mosques
                                 and their spatial relationship to other structures. Mosques were located in
                                 close proximity to the commercial centre within existing cities. At the Persian
                                 Gulf port of Sırf the mosque, constructed after 188/803f., occupied the site of
                                 the old Sasanian fort, but was also surrounded by the market (the lower storey
                                 of the south-eastern side of the mosque being made up of a series of shops).1474
                                 At qAnjar the north wall of the mosque functions as the back wall of five shops
                                 that face onto the decumanus (fig. 17.4), while excavations in Ayla revealed that
                                 the expansion of the mosque necessitated the alteration of the route of the
                                 cardo. The close integration of the congregational mosque and governor’s
                                 residence has been demonstrated in excavations at Kfa, Wsit, qAnjar and
                                                                                            u       a .
                                 al-Mansura. The extant urban plans of the second/eighth century reveal
                                 another important process: the spatial separation of the religious and pala-
                                 tial/administrative structures and the creation of a ceremonial route between
                                 them. This increased elaboration can be found in such cases as Hishm’s       a
                                 palace and mosque in Sergiopolis/al-Rusfa, the Aqs Mosque and the palaces
                                                                             .a          .a
                                 to the south of the Haram al-Sharıf in Jerusalem, and the citadels of qAmmn
                                                        .              ¯                                         a
                                 and Samarqand.1475
                                    The new cities of the early qAbbsid period represent a break with the concept
                                 of the classical urban plan seen so powerfully at qAnjar. While the famous Round
                                 City of Baghdad constructed by the caliph al-Mansur (r. 136–58/754–75) is only
                                 known from written descriptions, two qAbbsid urban foundations – al-Rfiqa in
                                                                                a                           a
                                 Syria (after 155/771f.) and Smarrp in Iraq (221–79/836–92) – have been subjected
                                                              a     a
                                 to archaeological study. The garrison city of al-Rfiqa (lit. ‘the Companion’) was

                                     1473 F. Khan, Banbhore: A preliminary report on the recent archaeological excavations at
                                          Banbhore, 4th edn (Karachi, 1976); Abdul Aziz Farooq, ‘Excavations at Mansurah
                                          (13th season)’, Pakistan Archaeology, 10–12 (1974–86); Creswell, Short account, passim;
                                          Johns, ‘Concept of the mosque’, pp. 64–9; Yury Karev, ‘Samarqand in the eighth
                                          century: The evidence of transformation’, in Donald Whitcomb (ed.), Changing social
                                          identity with the spread of Islam: Archaeological perspectives, Oriental Institute Seminars 1
                                          (Chicago, 2004).
                                     1474 David Whitehouse, Siraf III: The congregational mosque and other mosques from the ninth
                                          to the twelfth centuries (London, 1980), pp. 9–19.
                                     1475 On these structures see Dorothée Sack, Resafa IV: Die Grosse Moschee von Resafa-
                                          Rusfat Hism (Mainz, 1996); Creswell, Short account, pp. 94–6; Antonio Almagro and
                                             .a        a
                                          Pedro Jiménez, ‘The Umayyad mosque on the citadel of Amman’, Annual of the
                                          Department of Antiquities of Jordan, 44 (2000); Karev, ‘Samarqand’, pp. 53–60.

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                      constructed on the north bank of the Euphrates river about 600 metres west of
                      the existing settlement of al-Raqqa (ancient Kallinikos). Built largely of mud
                      brick, and following a similar system to the fortifications of Baghdad, the double
                      line of walls were punctuated with numerous major and minor entrances
                      (fig. 17.6). To the north was an extensive complex of palaces and administrative
                      structures, while to the west at Hiraqla is an unfinished structure surrounded by
                      a circular wall that is believed to be a victory monument.1476 Another significant
                      aspect of the plan was the creation of a large industrial zone. Excavations in the
                      area known today as Tal Aswad, directly north of al-Raqqa, identified groups of
                      ceramic kilns (operating until c. 210/825f.) producing a wide range of unglazed
                      and glazed vessels, while further to the west a glass workshop was discovered
                      constructed over the hypocaust of a bathhouse. Later industrial activity was
                      largely focused in the land between al-Raqqa and al-Rfiqa. Provided with its
                      own defensive wall and a market, this industrial area was, by the late fourth/
                      tenth century, understood as a distinct urban entity (madı 1477
                         Established by al-Muqtasim (r. 218–27/833–42) in 221/836, and expanded by
                      later caliphs, most notably al-Mutawakkil (r. 232–47/847–61), Smarrp stretches
                                                                                        a     a
                      more than 35 kilometres along the banks of the Tigris river. Like Baghdad, this
                      qAbbsid foundation made use of existing watercourses constructed in the
                      Sasanian period. Comprising numerous palaces, two congregational mosques,
                      barracks, a mausoleum, pavilions, racecourses, polo-grounds, highways and
                      hunting reserves, Smarrp is perhaps best considered as a series of linked urban
                                           a      a
                      units rather than a conventional city with a single administrative and economic
                      centre. Indeed, the erection of a second congregational mosque of Ab Dulafu
                      (245–7/859–61) lends the northern development of al-Mutawakkiliyya the status
                      of city distinct from that of the remainder of Smarrp (fig. 17.7). The palaces and
                                                                       a    a
                      other monumental structures of Smarrp owe their scale partly to the cheap
                                                            a      a
                      building materials – mud brick and pisé – employed in much of the construc-
                      tion. Baked brick and expensive decorative media were reserved for the two
                      congregational mosques and the most important sectors of the palaces. While
                      the palaces are evidently the focal points of each urban unit, they should not be
                      seen in isolation; many are surrounded by ‘cantonments’ built in mud brick that

                          1476 Verena Daiber and Andrea Becker (eds.), Raqqa III: Baudenkmäler und Paläste I (Mainz
                               am Rhein, 2004).
                          1477 Julian Henderson et al., ‘Experiment and innovation: Early Islamic industry at
                               al-Raqqa, Syria’, Antiquity, 79 (2005); Stefan Heidemann, ‘The history of the industrial
                               and commercial area of qAbbsid al-Raqqa, called al-Raqqa al-Muhtariqa’, BSOAS, 69, 1
                                                              a                                  .

                                                                                                                                                       678 [666–684] 4.11.2009 9:58AM

17.6 Corona satellite photograph of Raqqa, Syria, taken between 1960 and 1972. 1) Raqqa (Kallinikos); 2) walled city of Rfiqa; 3) North gate; 4)
‘Baghdad gate’; 5) Congregational Mosque; 6) Possible line of the wall enclosing al-Raqqa al-Muhtariqa (‘the burning Raqqa’); 7) site of an Abbasid-
period glass workshop; 8) Tal Aswad.
                                                                                                                                          679 [666–684] 4.11.2009 9:58AM

17.7 Aerial view of Samarra with the mosque of Ab Dulaf (245–47/859–61).Creswell archive: EA.CA.271. Creswell Archive, courtesy of the
Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.
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                                 probably functioned as the housing blocks and markets of the Turkish

                                                                                        International trade
                                 Two major spheres of Late Antique international mercantile activity – the
                                 Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf – are of particular relevance for the
                                 development of long-distance trading relationships in the early Islamic period.
                                 In the fifth and sixth centuries volumes of trade in the Mediterranean declined
                                 considerably from the levels seen in earlier centuries. There is, however,
                                 textual and archaeological evidence for the continuity of established economic
                                 contacts. Furthermore, the supply to Europe of luxury goods from North
                                 Africa and the Middle East was not terminated by the Islamic conquests. For
                                 instance, papyrus from Egypt continued to be employed by the Merovingian
                                 chancery until the early second/eighth century, and the latest Papal papyrus
                                 carries the date of 1057.1479 Another interesting example of continuity with
                                 earlier Mediterranean trading practices can be seen in the occurrence of resin-
                                 coated ceramic amphorae, corresponding to a Late Roman type, in late
                                 second/eighth to early third/ninth-century excavated contexts in Istabl       .
                                 qAntar/Fustt in Egypt. Comparable amphorae are reported from long-
                                             . a.
                                 established wine-producing sites in Middle Egypt.1480 A similar continuity in
                                 amphora production may also have occurred in North Africa.1481
                                    The Persian Gulf presents a different picture. The phase from the second to
                                 the fourth or fifth centuries witnessed a decline in settlement levels in eastern
                                 Arabia, as well as the construction of fortified dwellings at sites such as Mheila
                                          u                             . a
                                 and al-Dr (similar structures in the Hijz, including Qaryat al-Faw, also date
                                 to this phase). In spite of the evidence for reduced levels of sedentary
                                 occupation, mercantile activity remained vigorous, with the presence of
                                 South Asian ceramics being an indication of the long-distance commercial
                                 contacts. On the Persian coast the major port of Bushihr was established
                                 during the rule of the Sasanian shah Ardashır (r. 224–40), while the fort at Sırf
                                                                              ¯                                ¯a
                                 is attributed to Shpr II (r. 309–79). While many of the Arabian fortified
                                                     a u
                                 buildings were abandoned between the fifth and the first/seventh-second/

                                     1478 Alastair Northedge, The historical topography of Samarra, Samarra Studies 1 (London, 2005).
                                     1479 Richard Hodges and David Whitehouse, Mohammed, Charlemagne and the origins of
                                          Europe: Archaeology and the Pirenne thesis (London, 1983).
                                     1480 C. Vogt et al., ‘Notes on some of the Abbasid amphorae of Istabl qAntar-Fustat
                                          (Egypt)’, BASOR, 326 (2002).
                                     1481 Leone, ‘Late Antique North Africa’, pp. 21–4.

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                                                                    Archaeology and material culture

                      17.8 Earthenware bowl with tin glaze and cobalt (blue) and copper (green) painting, Iraq,
                      third/ninth century. 1978.2141. Courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.

                      eighth centuries, sites such as Khatt, Suhr and Kush perhaps continued to
                                                               . .a
                      trade into the early Islamic period.1482 Conversely, the decline in long-distance
                      land trade via the Silk Route caused by Perso-Roman wars in 502–6, 527–61 and
                      602–29 may have invigorated Persian maritime activity. The presence of
                      Sasanian drachms and bullae (perhaps used to seal packages destined for
                      transport) in Oman, India, Sri Lanka and coastal sites in China illustrates the
                      extent of Persian trading links.1483
                         Archaeology has established that the greatest expansion in Persian Gulf
                      commerce occurred in the early qAbbsid period. The extent of this trade is
                      well illustrated by the wide distribution of second/eighth- to fourth/tenth-
                      century Iraqi glazed pottery (fig. 17.8) from ports such as Basra and Sırf; for
                                                                                      .        ¯a

                          1482 Derek Kennet, ‘On the eve of Islam: Archaeological evidence from Eastern Arabia’,
                               Antiquity, 79 (2005); Derek Kennet, Sasanian and Islamic pottery from Ras al-Khaimah.
                               Classification, chronology and analysis of trade in the western Indian Ocean, BAR
                               International Series 1248 (Oxford, 2004), pp. 68–85.
                          1483 Touraj Daryaee, ‘The Persian Gulf trade in Late Antiquity’, Journal of World History,
                               14, 1 ( March 2003).

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                                 instance, tin-opacified wares and turquoise-glazed storage jars appear on
                                 sites as dispersed as Fustt, Zabı d (Yemen), Mantai (Sri Lanka), Ko Kho Khao
                                                           .a .   ¯
                                 (Thailand), the East African coast and possibly Kwa Gandaganda (South
                                 Africa).1484 Finds of Islamic glass vessels in elite burials in China are another
                                 indication of the widespread demand for luxury commodities manufactured
                                 in the cities of the Islamic Middle East.1485 Although transport by sea was the
                                 most efficient mode of long-distance transport, reports of Iraqi ceramics at
                                 sites such as al-Raqqa–al-Rfiqa, Ssa and Samarqand demonstrate that there
                                                                a     u
                                 was also vigorous trade along the major land routes and rivers. Glazed
                                 ceramics, glass and metalwork found along the Darb Zubayda (most notably
                                 at the town of al-Rabadha) reveal that, in addition to the annual hajj, this
                                 major road was also employed by caravans bringing luxury merchandise
                                 from Iraq to the Hijz.1486
                                                     . a
                                    The excavations of the congregational mosque and other sites in Sı rf     ¯a
                                 provide evidence for the introduction of ceramics from South-East Asia. The
                                 imports of the late second/eighth and third/ninth centuries included stone-
                                 ware storage jars (‘Dusun ware’), two inscribed with Arabic names (prob-
                                 ably those of merchants), as well as various types of Tang period (618–906)
                                 glazed stoneware bowls. Dusun ware has also been located at numerous
                                                                               ¯ a
                                 sites in southern Iran (as far north as Sı rjn), on the island of Socotra,
                                 Banbhore in Pakistan, the East African coast and Sri Lanka.1487 Equally
                                 impressive is the distribution of the green glazed stoneware produced
                                 between the third/ninth and fifth/eleventh centuries in the area of
                                 Yuezhou, south of Shanghai. Finds of Yueh wares are concentrated in the
                                 Persian Gulf, Mesopotamia and Sind, but they also made their way along
                                 land routes as far as Nı shpr and Rayy.1488 Excavated contexts of the fourth
                                                          ¯ a u

                                     1484 Robert Mason, Shine like the sun: Lustre-painted and associated pottery from the medieval
                                          Middle East (Toronto and Costa Mesa, 2004), pp. 23–60.
                                     1485 Numerous Islamic glass vessels were reported in the tomb of a Liao princess from
                                          Ch’en state, dated 1018. See Ts’ai Mei-fen, ‘A discussion of Ting ware with unglazed
                                          rims and related twelfth-century official porcelain’, in Maxwell Hearn and Judith
                                          Smith (eds.), Arts of the Sung and Yüan (New York, 1996), pp. 116–17.
                                     1486 Saqd b. qAbd al-qAzız al-Rashid, al-Rabadhah: A portrait of early Islamic civilization in
                                          Saudi Arabia (Harlow, 1986).
                                     1487 David Whitehouse, ‘Chinese stoneware from Siraf: The earliest finds’, in
                                          N. Hammond (ed.), South Asian archaeology (Park Ridge, NJ, 1973); Jessica Rawson,
                                          Michael Tite and M. Hughes, ‘The export of Tang sancai wares: Some recent
                                          research’, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramics Society, 52 (1987–8). On the criticisms
                                          of the Sırf ceramic chronology, see Kennet, Sasanian and Islamic pottery, pp. 83–4.
                                     1488 Andrew Williamson, ‘Regional distribution of mediaeval Persian pottery in the light of
                                          recent investigations’, in James Allan and Caroline Roberts (eds.), Syria and Iran: Three
                                          studies in medieval ceramics, Oxford Studies in Islamic Art 4 (Oxford, 1987), pp. 11–14.

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                      or fifth to third/ninth centuries at Kush in Ras al-Khaimah are notable for the
                      occurrence of significant quantities of Indian ceramics; Chinese wares only
                      start to appear in the fifth/eleventh century.1489 Storage vessels for date
                      syrup akin to types manufactured at Sı rf in the fourth/tenth century have
                      been located at sites including Manda, Shanga and Pate on the Lamu
                      archipelago, while timbers employed in the buildings in Sı rf were probably
                      shipped from East Africa.1490
                         Another dimension of the economic patterns from the late second/eighth
                      to the fourth/tenth centuries is revealed by hoards found in Scandinavia,
                      Denmark and the regions between the Black Sea and the Baltic. Of the huge
                      number of coins from recovered hoards (more than 80,000 dirhams in
                      Sweden, about 5,000 in Denmark and over seventy separate hoards of
                      third/ninth-century coins are reported from European Russia) the vast
                      majority are dirhams minted in the east of the Islamic world – particularly
                           ¯           a
                      Madı nat al-Salm (Baghdad), al-Muhammadiyya (Rayy), Balkh and
                      Samarqand –about 164–390/780–1000 (see fig. 16.23). Umayyad, Sasanian
                      and Byzantine coins are all very scarce, as are examples minted in North
                      Africa or Spain (for a detailed consideration of early Islamic numismatics, see
                      chapter 16). The northern flow of silver from the qAbbsid caliphate and the
                                                 a a
                      lands controlled by the Smnid dynasty (204–395/819–1005) is an indicator
                      of a vigorous period of mercantile activity conducted with the peoples living
                      beyond the borders of the eastern Islamic world. Focused on slaves, furs,
                      wax, honey and amber, this trade required the interaction of Muslim
                      merchants, Bulghrs, Khazars and the group known in Arabic sources as
                      the Rs (probably Vikings as well as Slavs and Finns) at entrepôts along the
                      Volga and as far north as Old Ladoga (Staraja) in north-western Russia. The
                      rarity in Scandinavian hoards of coins minted after the 360s/970s probably
                      gives an approximate date for the decline of this long-distance trading

                          1489 Kennet, Sasanian and Islamic pottery, pp. 69–72.
                          1490 David Whitehouse, ‘East Africa and the maritime trade of the Indian Ocean, AD
                                800–1500’, in B. Amoretti (ed.), Islam in East Africa: New sources (Rome, 2001).
                          1491 Thomas Noonan, ‘Ninth-century dirham hoards from European Russia: A prelimi-
                               nary analysis’, in M. Blackburn and D. M. Metcalf (eds.), Viking-age coinage in northern
                               lands, BAR International Series 122 (Oxford, 1981), pp. 47–117; Bengt Hovén, ‘On
                               Oriental coins in Scandinavia’, in Blackburn and Metcalfe (eds.), Viking-age coinage,
                               pp. 119–28; Anne Kromann and Else Roesdahl, ‘The Vikings and the Islamic lands’, in
                               K. von Folsach et al. (eds.), The Arabian journey: Danish connections with the Islamic world
                               over a thousand years (Aarhus, 1996).

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                                                                              The New Cambridge History of Islam

                                 Many areas of continuity can be detected between the early Islamic period and
                                 the patterns of Late Antiquity. This continuity is particularly apparent in the
                                 archaeological record of the first/seventh and much of the second/eighth
                                 centuries. At the same time, artefacts do provide indications of new directions.
                                 Arabic, though sometimes employed on monumental inscriptions prior to 1/
                                 622, becomes the pre-eminent vehicle for the expression of a new Muslim
                                 identity. The somewhat tentative experiments with religious formulae from
                                 1/622 to 72/691f. give little indication, however, of the dominant place that the
                                 written word would have in later Islamic art and architecture. Other impor-
                                 tant developments of this first phase were the creation of the amsr and the
                                 introduction of new institutions, the congregational mosque and the dr          a
                                 al-imra, into the urban environment. It is evident that the orderly planning
                                 of the ‘classical city’ had started to erode from at least the fourth century, and
                                 that this process continued after 1/622, but it is perhaps the great qAbbsid  a
                                 foundations of the later second/eighth and third/ninth centuries that mark
                                 the decisive shift in Islamic urbanism. Attracting skilled workers from other
                                 regions, these great cities provided a fertile environment for innovation in
                                 media such as glass, glazed pottery and metalwork. The fate of the irrigation
                                 networks of Iraq during the qAbbsid period remains the subject of debate, but
                                 elsewhere the centuries after the Arab conquests brought renewed vitality to
                                 agriculture through the synthesis of existing technologies and the introduction
                                 of new crops. Likewise, the arrival of Islam does not appear to have radically
                                 altered the existing routes of international trade. What does change from the
                                 late second/eighth century onward is the volume of traffic. The presence of
                                 Far Eastern stonewares in the Middle East, dirham hoards in Scandinavia and
                                 Iraqi glazed ceramic bowls in locations as dispersed as Spain, East Africa, Sri
                                 Lanka and China attest to the vibrancy of commercial exchange in this
                                 new era.


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