The Ebb and Flow of the Ghūrid Empire David C. Thomas Sydney University Press ISBN: 9781743325520
The iconic minaret of Jām stands in a remote mountain valley in central Afghanistan, the finest surviving monument of the enigmatic seasonally nomadic, 12th century Ghūrid dynasty. The re-discovery of the minaret half a century ago prompted renewed interest in the Ghūrids, and this has intensified since their summer capital at Jām became Afghanistan’s first World Heritage site in 2002.
Two seasons of archaeological fieldwork at Jām, the detailed analysis of satellite images and the innovative use of Google Earth as a cultural heritage management tool have resulted in a wealth of new information about known Ghūrid sites, and the identification of hundreds of previously undocumented archaeological sites across Afghanistan. Drawing inspiration from the Annales School and the concept of an ‘archipelagic landscape’, Thomas has used these data to re-assess the Ghūrids and generate a more nuanced understanding of this significant Early Islamic polity.
In addition to complementing the événements which form the focus of the urban-based historical sources, the new archaeological data are used by Thomas to reconsider the urban characteristics of the Ghūrids’ summer capital. Throughout The Ebb and Flow of the Ghūrid Empire, Thomas uses this to explore the issues of Ghūrid identity, ideology and the sustainability of their polity.
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