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The transition zone between Africa, Asia and Europe was the most important intersection of human mobility in the medieval period. The present volume for the first time systematically covers migration histories of the regions between the Mediterranean and Central Asia and between Eastern Europe and the Indian Ocean in the centuries from Late Antiquity up to the early modern era.
Within this framework, specialists from Byzantine, Islamic, Medieval and African history provide detailed analyses of specific regions and groups of migrants, both elites and non-elites as well as voluntary and involuntary. Thereby, also current debates of migration studies are enriched with a new dimension of deep historical time.

Contributors are: Alexander Beihammer, Lutz Berger, Florin Curta, Charalampos Gasparis, George Hatke, Dirk Hoerder, Johannes Koder, Johannes Preiser-Kapeller, Lucian Reinfandt, Youval Rotman, Yannis Stouraitis, Panayiotis Theodoropoulos, and Myriam Wissa.
Author: George Hatke

Abstract

The Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum provides one of the few examples of an African polity which expanded outside the African continent. The kingdom is known to have occupied Yemen twice, first in the 3rd century a.d. and again in the 6th century. From Sabaic, Ge‘ez, Syriac, and Arabic sources we know that a sizeable number of Aksumites took up residence in South Arabia during Late Antiquity. Archaeological evidence, in the form of pottery from the site of Qāniʾ on the south coast of Yemen, supplements this textual evidence. In the middle of the sixth century ʾAbrǝhā, a general of Aksumite extraction, led a series of military campaigns into the Arabian interior and in the process brought much of the Arabian Peninsula under his political control. Given its impact on the history of the Arabian Peninsula at large the history of the Ethiopian diaspora in South Arabia is thus of importance for the understanding of early Islam.

In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone

Abstract

Since Late Antiquity, individuals and groups of Armenian origin were highly mobile across the Middle East and the Mediterranean, providing the basis for what later became the “Armenian diaspora”. The paper systematically explores motives, infrastructures and effects of these migrations, both in the society of departure and in the receiving societies, especially the Byzantine Empire, between the 6th and the 11th century a.d. It focuses on networks of noble elites, of learning, ecclesiastical exchange and pilgrimage as well as professional and mercantile mobility, but also on cases of forced mobility and mass exodus.

In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone
In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone
In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone
In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone
Author: Dirk Hoerder

Abstract

This paper uses the migration of Scandinavian groups towards Eastern Europe and the establishment of connections to Byzantium as case study for the illustration of the diversity of medieval migration movements. Various motives and socio-economic frameworks of migration are described. Equally, the enduring effects of human mobility in the long term as well as short term dynamics of the networks and spatial axes of migration are analysed.

In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone

Abstract

Muslim caliphal rule was anything but coherent. In fact, a chain of repeated civil wars caused large devastation during the first three centuries of Islam. The mid-8th century witnessed the overthrow of the Umayyad ruling dynasty by the Abbasids. From the 9th century onwards, territorial integrity was put at stake by a trend towards regionalisation. From now on provinces gained independence from the imperial centre in Baghdad. Short-term political events were surface phenomena but symptomatic for long-term processes inside the societies. Of these may be mentioned the Arabisation of the Middle Eastern and North African populations; movements of religious conversion; the settlement of the progeny of the Arab military class in the conquered lands; the import of Turkish military slaves from Central Asia. All these transformations arose from, or were at least related to, migrations of considerable geographic reach. Similarly, administrative elites and middle-ranking technocrats, ‘the backbone of imperial rule’, were not at the mercy of short-term political events. Rather, they were kept in place during the fall of their regimes and even after. Only one or two generations later was the personnel effectively exchanged, because of profound ‘real’ changes at social levels deeper than the political surface. The administrative personnel is of special interest, because both elites and middle-level technocrats had considerable influence on local political decision-making. Their migration always meant an import of specific forms of control over the means of government. These forms could change from group to group and would have lasting effects on local conditions. The particular staff composition of regional administrations not only affected adjacent social milieus and brought along technological innovations, but also was a causal link for provincial politics and the political fate of the empire itself.

In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone
Author: Myriam Wissa

Abstract

The paper explores the ways how peace, or the ideas behind it, have been used in the narrative discourse of Christian historiography in Egypt. It analyses the rhetoric of accounts to highlight whether “peace” relates to the various stages of a major conflict, which was the last revolt of Bashmūr (831 ce). What was meant by peace? Was it theologically driven? How did the Coptic and Syriac partriarchs along with the Abbasid caliph have modeled the process of dialogue, reconciliation or displacement of the population of Bashmūr? The paper shows how the Syriac chronicler Dionysius of Tell Mahre and contemporary church leaders, all of a Christian background, had different responses to the socio-political conflict of their time.

In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone
Author: Lutz Berger

Abstract

This paper discusses the origins of military slavery in the Muslim world. After a short survey of secondary literature on the topic, a short political history of slave armies in the medieval Middle East before the 13th century is given. The following paragraphs provide the reader with an overview of the geographical origins of slave soldiers in the period and the question of race and racialism in medieval Muslim armies. In conclusion the paper tries to show that Muslim military slavery far from being the extraordinary institution it may seem was just one instance of military work being left to people from the margin (socially or geographically) of a society. During the period treated never as dominant as was sometimes thought.

In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone