Abbasid Studies IV (BOK)
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This volume explores the immense achievements of the 'Abbasid age through the lens of Mediterranean history. When the Umayyad caliphs were replaced by the 'Abbasids in 750, and the Arab capital moved to Baghdad, Iraq quickly became the centre not only of an imperium but also of a culture built on the foundations of the great civilizations of antiquity: Greece, Rome, Byzantium and Persia. This current selection of 'Abbasid Studies presents a colourful mosaic of new research into ancient manuscripts that provides insight into how the fundamentals of philology are shaped. Wonderful vistas of ancient dreams open up while 'Abbasid armies clatter and collide; images are conjured of murderous caliphs, foreign looking litterateurs and talking objects; puzzling jurists and puzzled philosophers are surrounded by odd abstract figures that stand out due to their extraordinariness. We see a lively self portrait of a scholar struggling with the presentation of his own image. The ninth 'Abbasid caliph al-Wathiq (d. 232/847), famous for his intellectual curiosity, sends the Persian courtier Ibn Khurradadhbih on exploratory missions around the globe to obtain eyewitness testimony of the wonders of the world. We learn of magic pools, all-seeing mirrors, the kidnapping of a lute-playing shepherd; a Baghdadi party-pooper at an Isfahani social gathering monopolising all participants with an amazing speech that uninterruptedly continues until the next morning when the narrator drunkenly passes out on the floor, and much more.