Gideon Avni, Head of the Archaeology Division, Israel Antiquities, and lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Gideon Avni is the Head of the Archaeological Division in the Israel Antiquities Authority and a lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. His academic interests focus on various aspects of Classical, Late Antique and Early Islamic archaeology, the cultural and religious transformation of the Near East from Byzantine to Islamic rule, and the archaeology of desert societies in the Levant. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Negev Desert, Beth Guvrin, Jerusalem, and Ramla.
The Byzantine–Islamic transition and the spread of Islam in the Near East has been widely debated in the past thirty years. The traditional approach, claiming a swift Arab conquest which triggered a rapid transition from Christianity to Islam, was challenged from various directions. Based on a comprehensive evaluation of archaeological findings from hundreds of excavated sites, this book addresses the transformation of local societies in Palestine and Jordan between the sixth and eleventh centuries. Its main argument is that archaeological findings provide a reliable though complex picture, indicating that the Byzantine–Islamic transition was evidently a much slower and gradual process than previously concluded. It involved regional variability, diverse settlement patterns, and different types of populations; it varied in the large cities, the medium-sized towns, the agricultural hinterlands, and the nomadic fringe settlements; local societies struggled to keep their old traditions and beliefs, while the newly introduced Muslim population gradually penetrated into the region. The book takes the reader from the remote corners of the Negev desert to the heart of the settled lands and the urban centres of Palestine and Jordan. The discussion evaluates the process of change in a dynamic multicultural society, showing that the coming of Islam had no direct effect on settlement patterns and the material culture of the local population. The gradual change in settlement culminated during the Early Islamic period, and collapse occurred as late as the eleventh century. The process of Islamization was even slower, and Christianity prevailed under Islamic rule as late as the eleventh century. The archaeological findings provide a firm basis for a reconsideration of current historical paradigms, and promote a rethinking of the impact of political, cultural, and religious change on the local populations of the Near East between the sixth and eleventh centuries.
Using a comprehensive evaluation of recent archaeological findings, Avni addresses the transformation of local societies in Palestine and Jordan between the sixth and eleventh centuries AD. Arguing that these archaeological findings provide a reliable, though complex, picture, Avni illustrates how the Byzantine-Islamic transition was a much slower and gradual process than previously thought, and that it involved regional variability, different types of populations, and diverse settlement patterns.
Based on the results of hundreds of excavations, including Avni’s own surveys and excavations in the Negev, Beth Guvrin, Jerusalem, and Ramla, the volume reconstructs patterns of continuity and change in settlements during this turbulent period, evaluating the process of change in a dynamic multicultural society and showing that the coming of Islam had no direct effect on settlement patterns and material culture of the local population. The change in settlement, stemming from internal processes rather than from external political powers, culminated gradually during the Early Islamic period. However, the process of Islamization was slow, and by the eve of the Crusader period Christianity still had an overwhelming majority in Palestine and Jordan.
List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgements
Prologue Four Eyewitness Accounts versus ’Arguments in Stone’
- 1: Shifting Paradigms for the Byzantine: Islamic Transition
- 2: From Polis to Madina: The Evolution of Large Urban Communities
- 3: A Tale of Two Cities: Jerusalem and Ramla in the Early Islamic Period
- 4: The Changing Land: Settlement Patterns and Ethnic Identities
- 5: The Transformation of Settlement and Society: A Synthesis
- 6: Conclusion
Appendix I: Cities in Byzantine Palestine, Phoenice, and Arabia
Appendix II: Early Islamic Settlements in Palestine and Jordan
Appendix III: Regional Surveys Byzantine and Early Islamic Sites
(Source : OUP)
(NB: Merci à Guillaume Dye pour nous avoir signalé cet ouvrage)