ahrc-logo-forwebox brandDirhams for Slaves
Dirham hoards from Northern Europe, trade in Slavic slaves, and the emergence of Medieval Europe (800-1000)

A Central Asian trade hub: Khwarazm in the Late Antique and Early Islamic period

28-29 Nov 2014 - A workshop at Wolfson College, Oxford

Khwarazm, an autonomous kingdom situated on the southern shore of what used to be the Aral Sea in Central Asia, played in Late Antiquity and in the early Middle Ages a pivotal role as the interface between the sedentary world to its south and the Eurasian steppe. Entirely forgotten to the modern world (with the exception of Soviet-era archaeologists), it mediated exchanges between the Sogdians and the nomads, between Iran and the Turks, and between Scandinavia and the Islamic world, and developed its own unique culture at the intersection of all these influences.

The little attention that Khwarazm has received from the historians focused on the early period (to approx. 6th century AD) and on the short period when it became the centre of a thriving empire which was destroyed by the Mongol invasion (12th-13th centuries AD). The goal of our workshop is to attempt to close this gap and to focus on the transitional period covering roughly 6th-11th centuries AD, when Khwarazm transformed from the northernmost outpost of the Iranian world to an Islamised state ruled by Turks. The particular interests of the co-organisers of the workshop—Dr Luke Treadwell (Khalili Research Centre, University Lecturer in Islamic Numismatics and Senior Assistant Keeper at the Heberden Coin Room, Ashmolean Museum), Dr Mark Whittow (History Faculty), Paul Wordsworth (Oriental Institute), and Dr Marek Jankowiak (Khalili Research Centre)—are related to trade networks in Late Antiquity and early Middle Ages.

The workshop on 29 November will be preceded by a public lecture on 28 November by Prof. Irina Arzhantseva (Russian Academy of Sciences), who will present the site of Por-Bajin, a spectacular Uyghur fortress on a lake island at the Russian-Mongolian border.

Public lecture - poster

Final programme