Arab-Armenian Cross-Cultural Encounters during the Umayyad and early ‘Abbāsid Periods

A lecture by Alison Vacca, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. Organized by the Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair for Modern Armenian History [Established by the Armenian Educational Foundation].

Friday, March 07, 2014
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
10383 Bunche Hall

The Arab province of Armīniya was established around 700 CE, soon after the Marwānid reforms. For over a century and a half, Arab governors resided in Dabīl/Dwin, collected taxes, minted coins, and oversaw the local élite. Arabs and Armenians fought side-by-side against the Khazars and the Greeks, and yet clashed with each other with relative frequency. There were clearly close relations between the leading élite of the two groups; nevertheless, we know very little of the day-to-day interaction between Armenians and Arabs.

This talk will review the extant evidence for Arab-Armenian cross-cultural exchange in the Umayyad and early ‘Abbāsid periods, focusing first on the development of ideas in Arabic texts. It will briefly address Arab knowledge of Armīniya in ‘Abbāsid-era Arabic histories and geographical treatises. Arabs described two different Armīniyas: one was the product of actual experience in the province and the other was an imagined Armīniya. While the former demonstrates limited knowledge about Armenians and the lived experience of Armenians and Arabs in Armīniya, the latter is a product of the sectarian milieu in the centers of the Islamic world, outside of Armīniya itself.


(310) 825-1181

Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair for Modern Armenian History