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Power, Patronage, and Memory in Early Islam

by Alain George

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When the Umayyads, the first Islamic dynasty, rose to power shortly after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (d. 632), the polity of which they assumed control had only recently expanded out of Arabia into the Roman eastern Mediterranean, Iraq and Iran. A century later, by the time of theirdownfall in 750, the last Umayyad caliphs governed the largest empire that the world had seen, stretching from Spain in the West to the Indus valley and Central Asia in the East. By then, their dynasty and the ruling circles around it had articulated with increasing clarity the public face of thenew monotheistic religion of Islam, created major masterpieces of world art and architecture, some of which still stand today, and built a state apparatus that was crucial to ensuring the continuity of the Islamic polity. Within the vast lands under their control, the Umayyads and their allies ruledover a mosaic of peoples, languages and faiths, first among them Christianity, Judaism and the Ancient religion of Iran, Zoroastrianism. The Umayyad period is profoundly different from ours, yet it also resonates with modern concerns, from the origins of Islam to dynamics of cultural exchange.Editors Alain George and Andrew Marsham bring together a collection of essays that shed new light on this crucial period. Power, Patronage, and Memory in Early Islam elucidates the ways in which Umayyad elites fashioned and projected their self-image, and how these articulations, in turn, mirroredtheir own times. The authors, combining perspectives from different disciplines, present new material evidence, introduce fresh perspectives about key themes and monuments, and revisit the nature of the historical writing that shaped our knowledge of this period.… (more)
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When the Umayyads, the first Islamic dynasty, rose to power shortly after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (d. 632), the polity of which they assumed control had only recently expanded out of Arabia into the Roman eastern Mediterranean, Iraq and Iran. A century later, by the time of theirdownfall in 750, the last Umayyad caliphs governed the largest empire that the world had seen, stretching from Spain in the West to the Indus valley and Central Asia in the East. By then, their dynasty and the ruling circles around it had articulated with increasing clarity the public face of thenew monotheistic religion of Islam, created major masterpieces of world art and architecture, some of which still stand today, and built a state apparatus that was crucial to ensuring the continuity of the Islamic polity. Within the vast lands under their control, the Umayyads and their allies ruledover a mosaic of peoples, languages and faiths, first among them Christianity, Judaism and the Ancient religion of Iran, Zoroastrianism. The Umayyad period is profoundly different from ours, yet it also resonates with modern concerns, from the origins of Islam to dynamics of cultural exchange.Editors Alain George and Andrew Marsham bring together a collection of essays that shed new light on this crucial period. Power, Patronage, and Memory in Early Islam elucidates the ways in which Umayyad elites fashioned and projected their self-image, and how these articulations, in turn, mirroredtheir own times. The authors, combining perspectives from different disciplines, present new material evidence, introduce fresh perspectives about key themes and monuments, and revisit the nature of the historical writing that shaped our knowledge of this period.

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