The Aghlabids and their Neighbors

Art and Material Culture in Ninth-Century North Africa


The first dynasty to mint gold dinars outside of the Abbasid heartlands, the Aghlabid (r. 800-909) reign in North Africa has largely been neglected in the scholarship of recent decades, despite the canonical status of its monuments and artworks in early Islamic art history. The Aghlabids and their Neighbors focuses new attention on this key dynasty. The essays in this volume, produced by an international group of specialists in history, art and architectural history, archaeology, and numismatics, illuminate the Aghlabid dynasty’s interactions with neighbors in the western Mediterranean and its rivals and allies elsewhere, providing a state of the question on early medieval North Africa and revealing the centrality of the dynasty and the region to global economic and political networks.

Contributors: Lotfi Abdeljaouad, Glaire D. Anderson, Lucia Arcifa, Fabiola Ardizzone, Alessandra Bagnera, Jonathan M. Bloom, Lorenzo Bondioli, Chloé Capel, Patrice Cressier, Mounira Chapoutot-Remadi, Abdelaziz Daoulatli, Claire Déléry, Ahmed El Bahi, Kaoutar Elbaljan, Ahmed Ettahiri, Abdelhamid Fenina, Elizabeth Fentress, Abdallah Fili, Mohamed Ghodhbane, Caroline Goodson, Soundes Gragueb Chatti, Khadija Hamdi, Renata Holod, Jeremy Johns, Tarek Kahlaoui, Hugh Kennedy, Sihem Lamine, Faouzi Mahfoudh, David Mattingly, Irene Montilla, Annliese Nef, Elena Pezzini, Nadège Picotin, Cheryl Porter, Dwight Reynolds, Viva Sacco, Elena Salinas, Martin Sterry.

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Glaire D. Anderson, PhD (2005), MIT, is Associate Professor of Islamic Art History at UNC-Chapel Hill. Specializing in the arts of al-Andalus and the caliphal era, she is author of The Islamic villa in early medieval Iberia(Ashgate, 2013).

Corisande Fenwick, PhD (2013), Stanford University, is Lecturer in Mediterranean Archaeology at UCL. She is the author of many articles on North African archaeology and co-editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Islamic Archaeology.

Mariam Rosser-Owen, PhD (2002), University of Oxford, is Curator of Arab World collections at the Victoria & Albert Museum. She has published many articles on the arts of the Islamic West, and is author of Islamic Arts from Spain (V&A Publishing, 2010).

"This collection, as a statement on the state of the field as well as what remains to be discovered, will be a vital resource and a first stop for anyone undertaking future study of the third/ninth and fourth/tenth-century regions of the western Mediterranean and northern Africa." - Sarah Davis-Secord, University of New Mexico, in: Al-Masāq 30/3 (2018)

"As an elegant (collective) status quaestionis, on a much-neglected field, and a stimulus to further work, it is hard to imagine a more welcome book." - Andrew Merills, University of Leicester, in: Medieval Archaeology 62/2 (2018)

"The Aghlabids and their Neighbors is a long overdue contribution to the study of Islam and North African history. The genuinely interdisciplinary approach offers numerous possibilities for further research, not least because of the relatively small number of primary texts for this region, and the difficulty of accessing many of the manuscripts that do exist. The contributors must be praised for their skill in presenting complicated and specialized material in a manner that is both accessible and relevant to the non-initiate of their field. So too should the editors be commended for the volume's internal consistency (no small feat in a collection of this size and range) and its coherent and helpful structure." - Antonia Bosanquet, Hamburg University, in: Journal of the History and Culture of the Middle East 96/1 (2019)

"The weighty edited volume of 29 contributors, many drawn from an international workshop held in 2014, is an extremely welcome addition to the rather sparse array of scholarship on the history, art, architecture and material culture of early Islamic North Africa. Compiled and edited by Mariam Rosser-Owen, Corisande Fenwick and Glaire Anderson, a trio of scholars, known for their multi-disciplinary, multi-lingual and often revisionist endeavours in the field, it has a refreshing unapologetic Maghribi perspective which encourages the reader to see North Africans as agents in the production of their own early Islamic material culture, rather than as somewhat passive imitators of what Muslims in the Islamic East or al-Andalus were doing better." - Amira K. Bennison, University of Cambridge in: Bibliotheca Orientalis LXXVI N° 1-2 (2019)
List of Maps
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Contributors
Aghlabid Timeline
List of Aghlabid Rulers

1 The Aghlabids and Their Neighbors: An Introduction
Glaire D. Anderson, Corisande Fenwick, and Mariam Rosser-Owen

Part 1: State-building

2 The Origins of the Aghlabids
Hugh Kennedy
3 Comment les Aghlabides ont-ils gouverné l’Ifriqiya ?
Mounira Chapoutot-Remadi
4 Reinterpreting the Aghlabids’ Sicilian Policy (827–910)
Annliese Nef
5 Topographies of Power in Aghlabid-Era Kairouan
Caroline Goodson
6 L’atelier monétaire d’al-ʿAbbassiyya: du « vieux château » (al-Qasr al-Qadim) à la ville princière aghlabide
Abdelhamid Fenina
7 Le changement du type monétaire des dinars aghlabides sous le règne de Ziyadat Allah III : évolution ou révolution artistique?
Mohamed Ghodhbane
8 Ziryab in the Aghlabid Court
Dwight Reynolds

Part 2: Monuments: The Physical Construction of Power

9 La Grande Mosquée de Kairouan : textes et contexte archéologique
Faouzi Mahfoudh
10 The Marble Panels in the Mihrab of the Great Mosque of Kairouan
Jonathan M. Bloom
11 Fragments d’histoire du minbar de Kairouan
Nadège Picotin and Claire Déléry
12 Les carreaux verts et jaunes « cachés » du mihrab de la Grande Mosquée de Kairouan et analogie avec une sélection d’objets kairouanais
Khadija Hamdi
13 La Grande Mosquée Zitouna : un authentique monument aghlabide (milieu du IXe siècle)
Abdelaziz Daoulatli
14 The Zaytuna: The Mosque of a Rebellious City
Sihem Lamine
15 Le coufique des inscriptions monumentales et funéraires aghlabides
Lotfi Abdeljaouad
16 Les ribāṭs aghlabides : un problème d’identification
Ahmed El Bahi

Part 3: Ceramics: Morphology and Mobility

17 La céramique aghlabide de Raqqada et les productions de l’Orient islamique : parenté et filiation
Soundes Gragueb Chatti
18 Aghlabid Palermo: Written Sources and Archaeological Evidence
Fabiola Ardizzone †, Elena Pezzini, and Viva Sacco
19 Palermo in the Ninth and Early Tenth Century: Ceramics as Archaeological Markers of Cultural Dynamics
Lucia Arcifa and Alessandra Bagnera
20 La céramique des niveaux idrisside et zénète de la Mosquée al-Qarawiyyin de Fès (IXe-Xe siècles)
Kaoutar El Baljani, Ahmed S. Ettahiri, and Abdallah Fili
21 Material Culture Interactions between al-Andalus and the Aghlabids
Elena Salinas and Irene Montilla

Part 4: Neighbors: North Africa and the Central Mediterranean in the Ninth Century

22 Jerba of the Ninth Century: Under Aghlabid Control?
Renata Holod and Tarek Kahlaoui
23 Islamic Bari between the Aghlabids and the Two Empires
Lorenzo Bondioli
24 Nakur: un émirat rifain pro-omeyyade contemporain des Aghlabides
Patrice Cressier
25 Idris I and the Berbers
Elizabeth Fentress
26 Sijilmassa in the Footsteps of the Aghlabids: The Hypothesis of a Ninth-Century New Royal City in the Tafilalt Plain (Morocco)
Chloé Capel
27 Zuwila and Fazzan in the Seventh to Tenth Centuries: The Emergence of a New Trading Center
David Mattingly and Martin Sterry

Part 5: Legacy

28 The Materiality of the Blue Quran: A Physical and Technological Study
Cheryl Porter
29 The Palermo Quran (AH 372/982–3 CE) and its Historical Context
Jeremy Johns

All interested in the history of the Aghlabid dynasty and medieval North Africa, and anyone concerned with medieval Islamic studies and the medieval Mediterranean.

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