The Long Arab Conquest of Central Asia: Urban Change in Merv, Paikent, Balkh and Samarkand (651-821)
This PhD research aims to trace the impact of the Arab conquest, both immediate and long-term, on the material and social organization of Central Asia from 651 to 821 through an “urban change” perspective in four cities: Merv, Paikent, Balkh and Samarkand.
- Shuqi Jia
When the Arabs appeared in Central Asia in the mid-seventh century C.E., they encountered a mixed religious, linguistic and ethnic population with extensive and prolonged contacts extending into the Turkic, Chinese and Persian worlds. Moving from raids and short term encounters with resulting treaties to permanent settlement, the Arabs eventually took control and settled in the political centers of the area. The regime change had an immediate impact on the political, military and administrative life in the area, but even more importantly are the profound and structural changes that took place in the following centuries. Yet such long term processes of change, their paste, character and interconnectedness as well as the nature and impact of Muslim rule in the region remain insufficiently understood.
My PhD research aims to trace the impact of the Arab conquest, both immediate and long-term, on the material and social organization of Central Asia from 651 to 821 through an “urban change” perspective in four cities: Merv, Paikent, Balkh and Samarkand. Using Arabic, Persian and Chinese written sources as well as the archeological and material cultural studies available, this research will study the Arab conquerors, their objectives and aims through the impact they had on the people and the urban environment they conquered. Furthermore, by focusing on changes in the urban fabric and organization, both in material and human terms, in a comparative perspective, this research is expected to give new insights into the long Arab conquest of Central Asia which had such a profound impact on the area.