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«by Alison Marie Vacca A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Near Eastern ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

FROM KCUSTI KAPKOH TO AL-ǦARBĪ:

SASANIAN ANTECEDENTS, THE SECTARIAN MILIEU, AND

THE CREATION OF AN ISLAMIC FRONTIER IN ARMĪNIYA

by

Alison Marie Vacca

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

(Near Eastern Studies)

in The University of Michigan

Doctoral Committee:

Professor Michael Bonner, Co-Chair Professor Kevork B. Bardakjian, Co-Chair Associate Professor Kathryn Babayan Professor John V. A. Fine Timothy Greenwood, University of St. Andrews Associate Professor Christiane Gruber

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This dissertation is the culmination of many years of study. Over the past decade I have benefited from the guidance of several eminent scholars of Islamic and Armenian history. First, I’d like to express my sincere appreciation for the members of my committee, especially Dr.

Michael Bonner, for balancing meticulous attention to detail with humor and interest, and Dr.

Kevork B. Bardakjian, for introducing me to a number of opportunities to improve my work.

Both professors have offered considerable time and effort to my development both as a person and as a scholar. I’d also like to thank the other members of my committee, Drs. Timothy Greenwood, Kathryn Babayan, John Fine, and Christiane Gruber, for their interest, support, and commitment.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with scholars at the University of Michigan, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and elsewhere over the past eight years, including Drs. Sergio La Porta, Christina Maranci, Steven Rapp, Karin Rührdanz, Alexander Knysh, Hrach Martirosyan, Behrad Aghaei, Ray Silverman, and Reuven Amitai. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the Near Eastern Studies department and the Armenian Studies Program, including Ozgen Felek, Rob Haug, Evyn Kropf, Noah Gardiner, Nancy Linthicum, Ilgi Evrim Gercek, Frank Castiglione, Michael Pifer, Vahe Sahakyan, Dzovinar Derderian, and Deborah Forger, for their friendship and collegiality.

Finally, my family has consistently supported my interest in pursuing history and I am thankful for their encouragement: this extends to my sisters Jennifer Krog, Rachel Lucchesi, and Janine Brescia and my grandparents Norman and Carol Napier. I’d especially like to thank my parents for their determination to send their daughters to college: my father, Keith Crossley, for ii reading drafts of papers, and my mother, Barbara Crossley, for traveling around the world to accompany my research trips and babysit my kids. They set the parenting bar high. Most importantly, I cannot understate the importance of the emotional support of my husband, Michael Vacca. He has been a loving and encouraging partner and a rambunctious father. Living with a graduate student is not easy: books cover the house, work never stays in the office, and the chores frequently pile up undone. I can’t promise that living with a professor will be any easier, but I appreciate his patience, love, and support more than I can put into words.

–  –  –

Table 4: Ter-Łewondyan’s Schema for the transmission of Agatcangełos’s History 246 Table 5: Ter-Łewondyan’s Chart of Contents of Agatcangełos’s History 249

–  –  –

Although Arab incursions into Armenia began in the 640s, it wasn’t until after the Marwānid reforms that Arabs established direct rule over the region and created the province Armīniya.

This dissertation considers Armīniya and the caliphal North (comprising Armenia, Caucasian Albania, Eastern Georgia, Azerbaijan, and parts of Northern Mesopotamia) from c. 700 to 862.

During this brief period, an Arab governor presided over Dabīl, struck coins in Armīniya, collected taxes, and imposed Islamic law. Importantly, Islamic sources project Armīniya as a province of the Islamic world rather than as a tributary state. This ends with the dissolution of c Abbāsid power after the death of al-Mutawakkil and, in Armenia, the rise of the Bagratids at the end of the ninth century.

In particular, this dissertation forwards three main arguments about the Arab period in Armīniya. First, Armīniya was important primarily as a frontier between the Caliphate, Byzantium, and Ḫazaria. The frontier was only partially defined by the military realities of the borderland and was instead primarily conceptual, built by the literary production of difference.

Second, the Arab conceptualization of Armīniya was largely dependent upon the legacy of Sasanian control. Arabs considered the Caliphate to be the heir of the Persian Empire, so they were particularly interested in the region’s Sasanian past. This determined not only how Arabs and Persians described Armīniya, but also how they ruled the land and its Christian population.

Third, information about the Sasanian era was not transmitted via Arab-Armenian dialog, but rather among the Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Near East. Specifically, the role of Syriac

–  –  –

overstated.

This dissertation discusses the importance of the province from the perspective of Arabic sources and Islamic historiography; although it employs Armenian, Greek, and Syriac sources, it is primarily concerned with the perspective from the center (Damascus and Baghdad).





–  –  –

The history of the Arab incursions into Armenia in the seventh century is notoriously confused.2 Historical sources describe the first Arab armies arriving in the North sometime between 636 and

642. By 652, Arabs and Armenians signed a peace treaty, preserved in the History attributed to Sebēos. This marks the beginning of an era, as some of the Armenian naxarar houses allied themselves with the Arab armies and turned towards the Islamic world instead of Christian Byzantium. Over the following century, we see more examples of Armenian attempts to step farther away from Byzantine hegemony.

However, it wasn’t until after the Marwānid reforms of the late seventh century that the Arab presence in Armīniya increased. Arab governors arrived in Dabīl (Arm: Dwin), gathered taxes, minted coins, oversaw the administration of the province, imposed Islamic law over the Muslim population, and eventually encouraged the immigration of Arab tribes into Armīniya.

Throughout both the Umayyad and early cAbbāsid periods, Armīniya played an important role in the politics of caliphal succession. Furthermore, many of the Arab governors of Armīniya rose to al-Mascūdī, Murūǧ, qtd. and trans. Grabar (1954), 185 qtd..‫ انا ابن كسرى وابي مروان وقيصرجدى وجدى خاقان‬See also Bosworth (1973), 53: relying on al-Ṭabarī and Muḥammad b. Ḥabīb al-Baġdādī, cites this as “I am the descendent of the Persian Emperor, my forefather was Marwān, and both the Emperor of Byzantium and the Khāqān of the Turks were my ancestors.” See also Fowden (1993), 145: “I am the son of Khusrau; my father is Marwan.

One grandfather is a Caesar; the other a khagan,” citing al-Ṭabarī.

Canard, Cahen & Deny (1986): “The history of the conquest of Armenia by the Arabs still presents in its details many uncertainties and obscurities, for the information found in the Arab, Armenian, and Greek sources is often contradictory.” higher positions in the caliphal administration, such as Marwān b. Muḥammad and Hārūn alRašīd, both of whom held the post of governor of Armīniya before becoming caliph.

Throughout the period of Arab control of Armīniya, the political situation and the relationship between Armenians and Arabs varied considerably. Typically, Armenian attempts at reasserting independence erupted in periods of caliphal decline and fitnas, usually followed by Arab expeditions to reclaim the province. The most notorious of these was the highly destructive campaign of Buġā during the caliphate of al-Mutawakkil. This marked the beginning of decline of the Arab period in Armīniya, as the local Armenian houses regained considerable power in the years immediately following the murder of al-Mutawakkil in 861. In this respect, Armīniya is comparable to many other provinces of the Caliphate, as cAbbāsid central authority dissolved by

the early 860s:

The Islamic world in 861 still had a palpable sense of its own unity, which it projected squarely onto the figure of its caliph. But now, literally overnight, the humiliation or murder of its caliph became thinkable, and before long it would be unremarkable. And as the ruler proved vulnerable and fragile, so too did the empire. In 861 the cAbbāsids still controlled most of Iraq, Syria, the Byzantine frontier district in Anatolia (the Thughūr), Egypt, Arabia, and Iran, even if they had to share some of their authority with local dynastic rulers such as the Ṭāhirids and Dulafids. But over the next few years, as internal struggles raged at the empire’s heart, the provinces were largely left to fend for themselves…3 The Caliphate saw a number of drastic developments over the 860s. The Ṣaffārids defeated the Ṭāhirids and took control over Afghanistan and Sīstān; by 876, Yacqūb b. al-Layṯ and his army reached within fifty miles of Baghdad itself. Aḥmad b. Ṭūlūn arrived in Egypt in 868 and soon thereafter gained the provinces of Syria, Palestine, and some of Northern Mesopotamia. Further west, the Aġlabids, who controlled Ifrīqiya from the early ninth century, supported a strong building agenda in the mid ninth century. The rise of independent dynasties in Armīniya, the Bonner (2010), 306.

Bagratids and the Arcruni, fit well into the pattern of power shifts in the rest of the Islamic world as the central Caliphate crumbled in the second half of the ninth century.

The current study considers Armīniya as an Arab province, from its creation circa 700 to al-Mustacīn’s recognition of Ašot Bagratuni as prince of Armenia (Išxan Hayocc) in 862. This date is particularly important not only to mark the rise of the Bagratids, who claimed kingship in 885, but also because it signals the end of Armenian collusion with Arab goals for the province.

As we will see, Arab and Persian authors stressed Armīniya’s Sasanian legacy, purposefully downplaying the Byzantine claims to the land. Armenians, for the most part, tended to corroborate this anti-Greek bent in Islamic literature, as we see that the Arab period was particularly important in the development of anti-Chalcedonian doctrine in Armenia and Albania.

In 862, however, the Council of Širakawan reopened discussions between the Greek and Armenian Churches, effectively reigniting the possibility of Armenian–Byzantine alliance that had been largely impossible for over a century and a half.

This chapter will serve as an introduction to the main arguments of this dissertation and to its methodology, particularly regarding the use of Arabic sources. It will also introduce the individual chapters, briefly explaining the main topics and conclusions of each section.

1.1 Main Arguments In the following chapters, I argue that certain themes recur in the study of Arab Armīniya, particularly: (1) the importance of the frontier between Islam, Byzantium, and Ḫazaria; (2) the legacy of the Sasanian period in Armenia;4 and (3) the role of the sectarian milieu in the dissemination of traditions and literature relating to Armīniya. Each of these themes ties The Greeks and the Persians first partitioned Armenia in 387: the Sasanians only controlled the eastern provinces of Armenia, though they gained and subsequently lost large portions of Armenian land in the 610 – 627 wars.

However, the Arabic sources do not draw a distinction between Eastern and Western Armenia.

specifically to issues of continuity and change in early Islamic history, as well as the legitimacy of Arab claims to the Northern provinces of the Caliphate.

1.1.1 The Northern Frontier The terms dār al-Islām and dār al-ḥarb, indicating a distinction between the lands in which Islamic law was or was not administered, first appear in the eighth-century. At least officially, these two entities were diametrically opposed and indefinitely at war. The dichotomization of the world into two groups, to a large extent a juridical and literary division, was mirrored in ninthand tenth-century geographical texts, which described the Caliphate as mamlakat al-Islām (the kingdom of Islam) or simply Islam, compared to the unnamed “Other.” Between Islam and the “Other” there existed a line of marches, the ṯuġūr (border outposts). Ṯuġūr, the plural of ṯaġr, literally means, a “‘gap, breach, opening’, a term used for points of entry between the Dār al-Islām and the Dār al-Ḥarb beyond it.”5 Qudāma, despite the fact that he does not contextualize the ṯuġūr in the juridical context of dār al-Islām and dār alarb, describes the ṯuġūr as follows: “Islam is surrounded on all sides and directions by nations and peoples who are hostile to it, some of them near to and others far away from its imperial capital…it behooves the Muslims to be most wary and on their guard against the Romans [Byzantines], from among all the ranks of their adversaries.”6 The ṯuġūr were both entire districts and specific towns, and the enumeration of the ṯuġūr in various Islamic geographical texts was relatively consistent. The commonly-referenced ṯuġūr in the North were Tiflīs (Tblisi), Bāb al-Abwāb (Derbent), and Qālīqalā (Erzurum). The Northern frontier cities were, at least in the Umayyad period, frequent sites of military exchange Bosworth (2012).

Qudāma, qtd. Bonner and Hagen (2010), 479.

between the Arab–Armenian armies and the Ḫazars. However, Qālīqalā only rarely saw armed skirmishes, as the caliphal excursions against the Byzantines usually occurred closer to the Syrian marches. In fact, especially by the early cAbbāsid period, but even in the period of Arab invasions and under the Umayyads, we see examples of the movement of people and goods across both borders.



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