Cities of Medieval Iran brings together studies in urban geography, archaeology, and history of medieval Iranian cities, spanning the Islamic period until ca. 1500, but also the pre-Islamic situation. The cities and their inhabitants take centre stage, they are not just the places where something else happened. Urban actors are given priority over external factors. The contributions take a long-term perspective and thus take the interaction between urban centres and their hinterland into account. Many contributions come from history or archaeology, but new disciplines are also methodologically integrated into the study of medieval cities, such as the arts of the book, lexicography, geomorphology, and digital instruments.

Contributors include Denise Aigle, Mehrdad Amanat, Jean Aubin, Richard W. Bulliet, Jamsheed K. Choksy, David Durand-Guédy, Etienne de La Vaissière, Majid Montazer Mahdi, Roy P. Mottahedeh, Jürgen Paul, Rocco Rante, Sarah Savant, Ali Shojai Esfahani, Donald Whitcomb and Daniel Zakrzewski.

Abstract

Medieval Arabic to Persian dictionaries are a relatively untapped source for the conceptual world in the time of their authors. This essay closely examines four such dictionaries from the late fifth/eleventh century to the seventh/thirteenth century written in eastern Iran. These dictionaries are quite rich in terminology for cities, towns, farmland, pasture and desert. They also describe architectural features of buildings. They offer scant but valuable information on markets and social structure. The information from these dictionaries combined with the rich detail available in the Islamic geographers of the third/ninth and fourth/tenth century allows us to form a more perfect picture of medieval Iranian society.

In: Eurasian Studies
In: Eurasian Studies

Abstract

This essay first attempts to explain why the Iranian city of Kashan is where it is and then how it came to grow.

Extensive use of irrigation allowed an adequate and perhaps abundant agriculture in the surrounding region. The arrival of substantial numbers of Arab immigrants in Kashan in the early Islamic period played an important role in the city’s development and its continuation as a center of Shiʿism. A strong educational tradition produced many talented Kashani officials, who served in the Saljuq and later administrations and sent some of their wealth back to Kashan.

It was also in the Saljuq period that Kashan gained a reputation for its production of luxury ceramics. Artisanal traditions were passed from generation to generation and contributed to exports of brass, and especially of textiles, which continued for centuries. Wealthy Kashanis (probably including a fair number of sayyids) invested heavily in charitable endowments, which served the poor and furthered learning in general. In the Timurid period, investments in mathematical education produced several outstanding mathematicians and astronomers. Tax yields from the medieval period may indicate the increasing prosperity of Kashan.

In: Eurasian Studies