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Non-Muslim Provinces under Early Islam

Non-Muslim Provinces under Early Islam
Islamic Rule and Iranian Legitimacy in Armenia and Caucasian Albania

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization

  • Date Published: March 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316638552

$ 34.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Eighth- and ninth-century Armenia and Caucasian Albania were largely Christian provinces of the then Islamic Caliphate. Although they formed a part of the Iranian cultural sphere, they are often omitted from studies of both Islamic and Iranian history. In this book, Alison Vacca uses Arabic and Armenian texts to explore these Christian provinces as part of the Caliphate, identifying elements of continuity from Sasanian to caliphal rule, and, more importantly, expounding on significant moments of change in the administration of the Marwanid and early Abbasid periods. Vacca examines historical narrative and the construction of a Sasanian cultural memory during the late ninth and tenth centuries to place the provinces into a broader context of Iranian rule. This book will be of benefit to historians of Islam, Iran and the Caucasus, but will also appeal to those studying themes of Iranian identity and Muslim-Christian relations in the Near East.

    • Analyzes Armenia and Albania as provinces under Islamic rule, shifting away from previous literature that usually places them in a Byzantine context
    • Balances both Christian and Arabic sources, often unexplored by Islamic historians, to offer a more all-encompassing view of the period
    • Focuses on the transition from Sasanian to caliphal rule, offering a novel example for the transition to Islamic rule in the region
    Read more


    • Winner, 2018 History and the Humanities Book Award, Central Eurasian Studies Society

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In the super-complex literature on the history of Armenia and the Caucasus, Vacca’s work is both the best general introduction and a significant contribution to on-going debates.' Hugh Kennedy, Journal of Islamic Studies

    'Alison Vacca makes a fascinating case for Sasanian, and possibly Arsacid/Parthian, legacies in matters of administrative geography, frontier culture, religious policy, mechanisms of control, treaties, and taxation in the historiography of the tenth-century Iranian intermezzo in the sub-Caucasus region, and makes the important points that legacy is not necessarily actual continuity, that the Sasanian legacy consisted of how they were remembered, and that the use of Sasanian-period texts by tenth century authors as models to describe caliphal rule encouraged a perception of continuity.' Michael Morony, Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles

    'Alison Vacca has produced an exciting, ambitious, and groundbreaking investigation that unfurls across a massive cross-cultural canvas. Deploying a bold interdisciplinary approach grounded in an impressive array of sources, this is the most important monograph on early Islamic Caucasia since Ter-Ghewondyan’s Arab Emirates in Bagratid Armenia. It will immediately establish itself as a ‘go to’ book not only for Armenologists and Caucasiologists but also specialists of Sasanian Iran, the early Islamic world, and Byzantium.' Stephen Rapp, Jr, Professor of Eurasian History, Sam Houston State University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316638552
    • length: 289 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.433kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Non-Persian provinces of Iran, non-Muslim provinces of Islam: an introduction to the Umayyad and 'Abbāsid North
    2. Whence the Umayyad North?: Byzantine, Sasanian and caliphal administrative geography of the North
    3. Lost Greek kings and hoodwinked Khazars: Sasanian and Byzantine legacy in the construction of caliphal frontiers in the North
    4. The so-called Marzbāns and the Northern Freemen: local leadership in the North from Sasanian to caliphal rule
    5. Caliphs, commanders and Catholicoi mechanisms to control the North under Byzantine, Sasanian and caliphal rule
    6. Taxing the dead and sealing the necks of the living: Sasanian and caliphal treaties and taxation in the North
    7. Collective historical amnesia: claiming Sasanian legacy and the case for a Parthian Intermezzo.

  • Author

    Alison Vacca, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
    Alison Vacca is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. A recipient of the Fulbright Islamic Civilization Initiative award and the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund fellowship, her research focuses on intercultural transmission of historical texts, the use of Arabic sources to tell Armenian history, the relationship between the South Caucasus and Central Asia, and inter-communal conflict between Muslims and Christians under early Islamic rule.


    • Winner, 2018 History and the Humanities Book Award, Central Eurasian Studies Society

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