IMC 2017: Sessions

Session 1216: Cultural Encounters

Wednesday 5 July 2017, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Przemysław Wiszewski, Wydział Nauk Historycznych i Pedagogicznych, Uniwersytet Wrocławski
Paper 1216-aPersian-Arab Encounters in the Abbasid Revolution and the Decline of Arab Dominance
(Language: English)
Öznur Özdemir, Islamic History Department, Sakarya University / School of Languages, Cultures & Societies - Arabic, Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies, University of Leeds
Index terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies, Social History
Paper 1216-bThe 'Strangers' with the Long Heads: Artificial Cranial Deformation as Proof of Otherness?
(Language: English)
Astrid Schmölzer, Institut für Archäologie, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
Index terms: Anthropology, Archaeology - General, Social History

Paper -a:
The conquest of Sasanian territories by Muslims in the 630s CE led to Islam to encounter and engage deeply with the older, well-established Persian political and social culture. Arguably, the Persians influenced Islamic administration and political culture more deeply than other post-imperial conquered peoples, including the Byzantines of the Islamicate world. Considering this influence, different scholars have variously asserted that the Abbasid Revolution was a Persian movement against the Arabs. But this view begs questions about why Persians would join an Arab-inspired movement and accept an Arab leadership? In the same vein, to what extent was Islam, in its values and culture, shaped by Persian traditions? By demonstrating the precise contribution of Persian mawali to the Revolution, as well as their cultural influence on ‘Abbasid society after the Revolution, the main purpose of this paper is to develop an understanding of the ‘cultural encounter’ between Arabs and Persians before, during and immediately after the Revolution. Drawing upon my current empirical research into the economic and cultural motivations that lay behind revolutionary activity, this talk asserts that after the Abbasid Revolution, Islamic society gained a permanently multi-ethnic and multi-cultural perspective primarily by means of cultural encounters with Persians, and the Islamic world could not thereafter remain an Arab-dominant sphere.

Paper -b:
Performed by a group of Indo-Iranian equestrian nomads, the custom of artificial cranial deformation was adopted by Hunnic tribes heading west, where they forced numerous Germanic tribes to leave their homeland. Some were absorbed by the invaders and adopted the practice of artificial cranial deformation. So, how many ‘real’ strangers are among the long heads? The analysis of origins of these individuals is getting difficult with the absence of grave findings. With the help of natural science and anthropology we can brighten up the backgrounds. A deformed skull speaks for a strange practice but this does not mean that the individual is a ‘stranger’ in its own group. This phenomenon shall be shown in different case studies.