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The Islamic-Byzantine Frontier: Interaction and Exchange Among Muslim and Christian Communities

av A Asa Eger

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The retreat of the Byzantine army from Syria in around 650 CE, in advance of the approaching Arab armies, is one that has resounded emphatically in the works of both Islamic and Christian writers, and created an enduring motif: that of the Islamic-Byzantine frontier. For centuries, Byzantine and Islamic scholars have evocatively sketched a contested border: the annual raids between the two, the line of fortified fortresses defending Islamic lands, the no-man's land in between and the birth of jihad. In their early representations of a Muslim-Christian encounter, accounts of the Islamic-Byzantine frontier are charged with significance for a future 'clash of civilizations' that often envisions a polarised world. A. Asa Eger examines the two aspects of this frontier: its physical and ideological ones. By highlighting the archaeological study of the real and material frontier, as well as acknowledging its ideological military and religious implications, he offers a more complex vision of this dividing line than has been traditionally disseminated. With analysis grounded in archaeological evidence as well the relevant historical texts, Eger brings together a nuanced exploration of this vital element of medieval history.… (mer)
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Opinion on the state of settlement along the Byzantine/Caliphate border remains divided. was it a desolate No-man's-Land or was it a relatively settled area with the standard Middle eastern population density? Eger is an archaeologist, and presents mostly physical evidence of the settlement pattern of the area during the period. It seems that the true desolation was of short duration, and that the area was evacuated by the Byzantines rather deliberately, then Pastoralists, probably Islamics, moved in. As time went by, say in one hundred years, the over shift was back towards settled farmers, though there were changes in density due to changing technologies and the decay of the Roman/Byzantine canal networks. His evidence is based on Archaeological evidences and interpretations, and he seems to have some differentiation among the tripartite agricultural styles evident in the Roman period. He does present some Islamic documentary evidence, largely Islamic, and largely based on travellers' itineraries. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Dec 3, 2018 |
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The retreat of the Byzantine army from Syria in around 650 CE, in advance of the approaching Arab armies, is one that has resounded emphatically in the works of both Islamic and Christian writers, and created an enduring motif: that of the Islamic-Byzantine frontier. For centuries, Byzantine and Islamic scholars have evocatively sketched a contested border: the annual raids between the two, the line of fortified fortresses defending Islamic lands, the no-man's land in between and the birth of jihad. In their early representations of a Muslim-Christian encounter, accounts of the Islamic-Byzantine frontier are charged with significance for a future 'clash of civilizations' that often envisions a polarised world. A. Asa Eger examines the two aspects of this frontier: its physical and ideological ones. By highlighting the archaeological study of the real and material frontier, as well as acknowledging its ideological military and religious implications, he offers a more complex vision of this dividing line than has been traditionally disseminated. With analysis grounded in archaeological evidence as well the relevant historical texts, Eger brings together a nuanced exploration of this vital element of medieval history.

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