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New Medieval Books: Baghdād: From Its Beginnings to the 14th Century

Baghdād: From Its Beginnings to the 14th Century

Edited by Jens Scheiner and Isabel Toral

ISBN: 9789004513365

This collection of 22 articles is a major guide and reference work to the medieval history of the city of Baghdad. The articles are categorized under six themes: the founding and legends about the city, overviews of different eras, Baghdad’s relations with other states, literature and courtly life, learning and science, and the various religious communities within the city.

Read an excerpt:

Almost seven hundred years of history passed the reader’s eyes in the previous seven hundred pages, most of it focusing on the vibrant metropolis of Baghdād and its people. He – or she – read about Baghdād’s natural settings and its place in the urban landscape of the Middle East, discovered the foundation and shape of Madīnat al-Salām, learned about Baghdād’s changing rulers from the ʿAbbāsid caliphs to the Ilkhans and their neighbouring empires, experienced the diverse religious communities that were present in the city and its hinterland and followed the emphasis that was put on ʿAbbāsid court culture and its legacy as well as on Baghdād’s knowledge society.


A few articles have already been posted online by their authors:

Chapter 4 – Ctesiphon and Its Surroundings, Precursorsof Baghdād, by Parvaneh Pourshariati

Chapter 6 – Baghdād under Būyid Rule, by Nuha Alshaar

Chapter 9 – Baghdad under Mongol Rule, by Michal Biran

Chapter 14 – City of Poets, Poets of the City, by Beatrice Gruendler

Who is this book for?

While this book – which runs over 900 pages – will be of most use to historians interested in the city of Baghdad or the Abbasid Caliphate, there is a lot in here that other medievalists will want to read – whether it be on literature, religious minorities, or even connections with medieval Europe. It also comes with a lengthy appendix describing the various medieval sources that are important for the history of Baghdad.

The editors

This began first as a conference in 2013.”From the beginning,” the editors write, “the aim was to produce an exhaustive volume that would cover all possible themes connected to the urban complex of Baghdād, from its origins rooted in Sasanian Mesopotamia up to the Mongol period, and, thus, to provide the reader with a history of this metropolis and its diverse inhabitants from numerous perspectives.”


Jens Scheiner is a Professor for Islamic Studies at the Georg-August University of Göttingen. Click here to view his university webpage.

Isabel Toral is a Senior PostDoc Researcher and director of the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies at Freie Universität Berlin. Click here to view her page.

You can learn more about this book from the publisher’s website

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