The Fortress of the Raven

Karak in the Middle Islamic Period (1100-1650)


In c.1142 work started on the construction of a major castle in the southern Jordanian town of Karak. The largest of a network of fortifications, Karak castle became the administrative centre of an important Crusader lordship. After 1188 Karak and its territories were incorporated into the Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman sultanates. This book traces the history of Karak and the surrounding lands during the Middle Islamic period (c.1100-1650 CE). The book offers an innovative methodology, combining primary textual sources (in Latin and Arabic) with archaeological data (principally the ceramic record) as a means to reconstruct the fluctuating economic relations between Karak and other regions of the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean.

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Marcus Milwright, D.Phil. (1999) in Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, is Associate Professor of Medieval Islamic Art and Archaeology at University of Victoria, Canada. He is the author of numerous articles and chapters on Islamic archaeology and Medieval trade.
“The citadel of al-Karak is the best preserved fortification in central and southern Jordan and is arguably one of the most impressive surviving examples of military architecture in the Middle East.”

Milwright’s book offers ”[an] analysis of the over 8,200 pottery shards recovered from within the citadel, the slopes around its walls and sectors beyond the boundaries of the old town wall…[Its] narrative is the first detailed account that we have of the political, administrative and economic history of al-Karak and will serve as the basis for future studies. [The ceramic analysis is] without reservation excellent and will remain the standard work on this issue.”

Konrad Hirschler, Bulletin of the School for African and Oriental Studies, 2009

" Fortress of the Raven is a clearly written and welcome addition to the archaeological and historiographical literature available on Jordan, one that sets high methodological standards and contributes to Islamic studies through its provincial perspective on the Ayyubid, Mamluk, and Ottoman states. Moreover, it makes ceramic analysis meaningful beyond a circle of specialists and effectively demonstrates what this category of material culture can contribute to socioeconomic history when other sources are wanting or ambiguous.”
Bethany J. Walker, Journal of Islamic Studies
All those interested in the archaeology of Jordan, the study of Islamic ceramics, and the history of the Crusader, Ayyubid, Mamluk, and Ottoman periods in Greater Syria.