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The conquest of Khu¯zista¯n: a historiographical reassessment


The ‘appendix’ to a mid- to late seventh-century East Syriac history includes a detailed account of the conquest of Khu¯zista¯n by Muslim armies between c. 635 and 642. This article translates this section of the ‘appendix’ (along with another dealing with the conquest of Egypt), subjects it to detailed analysis and criticism, and compares it with Arabic accounts of the conquest of Khu¯zista¯n that survive in the much later historical and legal traditions. The results of this exercise—using an early and local source to control the Islamic tradition—is in some measure mixed, but some striking agreement suggests that the transmission of conquest history in early Islam was not as discontinuous as has been previously argued.

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Versions of this paper were delivered at the Washington meeting of the Middle East Studies Association in December 1995, and at the Near and Middle Eastern History Seminar at the School of Oriental and African Studies in February 1996. I am indebted to those who listened and responded. I am also grateful to Sebastian Brock, Lawrence I. Conrad, and Patricia Crone, who read and criticized drafts. For several years this article has been described as ‘forthcoming’ in L. I. Conrad, History and historiography in early Islamic times, from which it was reluctantly withdrawn. The author regrets any confusion that may result. Abbreviations for periodical and other titles are given as follows: AIEO: Annales de l'Institut d'Études Orientales; BF: Byzantinische Forschungen; BGA: Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum; BMGS: Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies; CSCO: Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium; JJS: Journal of Jewish Studies; JSS: Journal of Semitic Studies; OCP: Orientalia Christiana Periodica; PdO: Parole de l'Orient; PEQ: Palestine Exploration Quarterly; RHR: Revue de l'histoire des religions; WI: Die Welt des Islams.
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Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
  • ISSN: 0041-977X
  • EISSN: 1474-0699
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-the-school-of-oriental-and-african-studies
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