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Central Asia has been perceived as a landscape of connections, of Silk Roads; an endless plain across which waves of conquerors swiftly rode on horseback. In reality the region is highly fragmented and difficult to traverse, and overcoming these obstacles led to routes becoming associated with epic travel and high-value trade. Put simply, the inhabitants of these lands became experts in the art of travelling the margins.
This volume seeks to unravel some of the myths of long-distance roads in Central Asia, using a desert case-study to put forward a new hypothesis for how medieval landscapes were controlled and manipulated.
Indo-Muslim and Portuguese History, Urban Fabric and Architecture
The ex-Portuguese Island of Diu – a once strategic maritime gateway to the bay of Cambay, Gujarat, India – features in the corpus of Portuguese history and literature, but a comprehensive study of the island was lacking. Mehrdad and Natalie Shokoohy, known for surveying little-known historic sites in India, present the study of the built environment of Diu in conjunction with the contemporaneous Indian histories in Arabic and Persian, resulting in a fresh view of Indian Ocean commerce and conquest. Extensive surveys of the Fort, the Town and the Island, include the epigraphy, fortifications, urban fabric, mosques, shrines, churches, monasteries, water infrastructure and the Zoroastrian Fire Temple and Towers of Silence. Fragmentary Hindu and Jain archaeological remains are also noted.
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Dans L’art de la guerre chez les Mamelouks, Mehdi Berriah fait la lumière sur les mécanismes autour desquels s’articulaient la conduite et la pratique de la guerre de l’armée mamelouke. Les Mamelouks en firent l’une des plus performantes du Proche-Orient médiéval aux XIIIe-XIVe siècles, ce qui leur a permis de repousser le triple danger (Mongols, Francs et Arméniens) qui menaçait les territoires du dār al-Islām au Proche-Orient. D’origine servile, provenant majoritairement des steppes eurasiatiques et du Caucase, les Mamelouks étaient recrutés avant tout pour la guerre. Celle-ci fut leur raison d’être, leur légitimité politico-religieuse provenant exclusivement de leurs exploits militaires. À partir d’un large corpus mêlant chroniques (arabes, latines, arméniennes et persanes), sources didactiques et travaux archéologiques, Mehdi Berriah offre le premier livre expliquant, avec détail, les succès militaires des Mamelouks bahrites sur différents fronts face à leurs trois principaux ennemis, et leur quasi-invincibilité sur terre, lesquels in fine permirent au sultanat de s’imposer comme la première puissance dans la région à la fin du VIIIe/XIVe siècle.
Ibn al-Amshāṭī’s al-Isfār ʿan ḥikam al-asfār
Critical Edition, Translation, and Commentary
Editor / Translator:
The fifteenth-century travel regimen entitled al-Isfār ʿan ḥikam al-asfār (‘The unveiling of the wisdoms of the books’) written by the Cairene jurist-physician Ibn al-Amshāṭī (d. 1496) is an interesting example of the postclassical medical literature. It includes, besides a travel regimen (written likely as a health guide for the pilgrimage to Mecca), a short pharmacopoeia of single and compound remedies deemed useful for the traveller.
The work was composed for Kamāl al-Dīn al-Bārizī (d. 1452), the head of the Mamluk Chancery. The Arabic edition, English translation, and commentary of this text are framed by a detailed introductory study of the Arabic-language tradition of travel regimens and various medico-pharmacological glossaries.
In Pamirian Crossroads and Beyond Hermann Kreutzmann offers insights in his fieldwork-based research in High Asia during four decades.
A human-geographical perspective is pursued in which case studies about colonial and post-colonial boundary-making, exchange relations of mountain communities across international borders, the transformation of agricultural and pastoral practices and the effects of modernisation strategies in neighbouring counties are centred in the Hindukush, Wakhan Quadrangle, Pamirian Crossroads, Karakoram Mountains and Himalaya. Empirical evidence is augmented by in-depth archival research, thus allowing a perspective from the 19th to the 21st century.
By shifting the focus to mountain peripheries and emphasising spaces in between urban centres of power in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the Central Asian Republics different arenas of confrontation and effective changes emerge.