Medieval Afghanistan, Iran and the one-time Soviet Central Asian states were frontiers in flux as the Islamic Caliphate spread beyond the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh through 10th centuries.
As such, different groups, such as the new Arab ruling class, the native landed gentry and local farmers, jockeyed for power, position and economic advantage over an approximately 300-year period as the Sasanian Empire collapsed and the Caliphate took its place.
University of Cincinnati historian Robert Haug, assistant professor, will present his research on how social, cultural and political changes were manifested in these border areas that serve almost as a “perpetual frontier.” Read more.
The commandment “Make yourself no graven image” has long been strictly followed in the Arab world. There are very few statues of the caliphs and ancient kings of the region. The pagan gods in the desert were usually worshipped in an “aniconic” way, that is, as beings without form.
Muhammad had a beard, but there are no portraits of him.
But now a narcissistic work of human self-portrayal has turned up in Yemen. It is a figure, chiseled in stone, which apparently stems from the era of the Prophet.
Paul Yule, an archaeologist from the southwestern German city of Heidelberg, has studied the relief, which is 1.70 meters (5’7”) tall, in Zafar, some 930 kilometers (581 miles) south of Mecca. It depicts a man with chains of jewelry, curls and spherical eyes. Yule dates the image to the time around 530 AD. Read more.
History is often shaped by the stories of kings and religious and military leaders, and much of what we know about the past derives from official sources like military records and governmental decrees. Now an international project is gaining invaluable insights into the history of ancient Israel through the collection and analysis of inscriptions — pieces of common writing that include anything from a single word to a love poem, epitaph, declaration, or question about faith, and everything in between that does not appear in a book or on a coin.
Such writing on the walls — or column, stone, tomb, floor, or mosaic — is essential to a scholar’s toolbox, explains Prof. Jonathan Price of Tel Aviv University's Department of Classics. Along with his colleague Prof. Benjamin Isaac, Prof. Hannah Cotton of Hebrew University and Prof. Werner Eck of the University of Cologne, he is a contributing editor to a series of volumes that presents the written remains of the lives of common individuals in Israel, as well as adding important information about provincial administration and religious institutions, during the period between Alexander the Great and the rise of Islam (the fourth century B.C.E. to the seventh century C.E.). Read more.
One of the oldest known copies of the Koran went on show at the British Museum today ahead of a new exhibition.
The Koran, lent by the British Library, will be part of the exhibition, Hajj: Journey To The Heart Of Islam, the first major collection dedicated to the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Mecca is viewed as a spiritual centre as the place where Prophet Mohammed received the first revelations in the early 7th century.
The copy of the Koran is thought to date from the 8th century BC, according to the British Museum.
The Koran states it is a sacred duty for Muslims who are able to make the journey to Mecca to do so at least once in their lives.
The collection will examine the significance of the Hajj as one of the Five Pillars of Islam, exploring its importance for Muslims and looking at how it has evolved. Read more.