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Arabic-Armenian Exchange: Sources of al-Balādhurī’s Account of the Islamic Conquest of Armenia, Albania, and Georgia

Wednesday 19 May 2021

All interested are cordially invited to the next Spring lecture of the Late Antique and Medieval Studies Centre on Zoom, Thursday 19 May, 4:45 pm Amsterdam time. CET

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Topic: LAMS Spring lecture: Alison Vacca (University of Tennessee)
Time: May 19, 2021 04:45 PM Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna


Meeting ID: 619 7731 5775
Passcode: s$2dS@Cb


Arabic sources about the Islamic conquests are famously problematic. Reports circulated orally first and were put to the page late, several centuries after the events they purport to relate. They are replete with tired tropes and far-fetched tales, frequently designed to entertain or to bolster the claims of ʿAbbāsid-era elites. However, they also reflect the literary entanglement of the authors of the ʿAbbāsid period. In this talk, we will hone in on the details of Balādhurī’s 9th-century descriptions of the earliest Islamic incursions into Armenia, Georgia, and Caucasian Albania. A close study of the toponyms of conquered regions and trajectories of the armies does not offer a clear sense of “what happened” in the 640s, but rather suggests that the author relied on informants from Armenia. The details in Balādhurī’s account—rare in its geographical specificity—thus offer an important witness to elusive Armenian-Arabic exchange in the early Islamic period. 

Dr. Alison Vacca
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