An Introduction to Islamic Archaeology

An Introduction to Islamic Archaeology

Marcus Milwright

Print publication date: 2012

ISBN: 9780748623105

Publisher: Edinburgh University Press


This book is a critical survey of the discipline of Islamic archaeology and of the ways in which archaeology can contribute to our understanding of the Islamic past between the seventh and the early twentieth centuries. The book proposes a definition of Islamic archaeology as the examination of the material record of populations (Muslim and non-Muslim) living under the rule of Muslim elites. The central part of the book is arranged thematically and makes use of case studies from the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, East Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula to explore topics including: urbanism, palatial culture, rural settlement, agricultural practices, hydraulic engineering, mosque construction and evolution, death and burial, manufacturing and technology, trade, and pilgrimage. The case studies are drawn from all phases of Islamic history. There are also three chronologically defined chapters dealing with: the transition from late antiquity to early Islam; the evidence for innovations in the archaeological record of early Islam; and the period from the fifteenth to the early twentieth centuries. The book concludes that Islamic archaeologist need to find effective ways of communicating their results to non-specialists, and that there needs to be further dialogue between archaeologists and other scholars of past Islamic societies. This dialogue should encompass both the framing of research projects and the interpretation of results, and has the potential to offer a more nuanced reading of the history and cultures of Islam.