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From a word of God to archaeological monuments: A historical-archaeological study of the Umayyad ribāts of PalestineYumna Masarwa
The subject of 'ribāts' in the field of Early Islamic Archaeology has long been connected to North Africa (modern-day Tunisia), partially because of the archaeological remains of the two 'Abbāsid ribāts ("coastal fortresses") at Munastīr and Sūsa. Recently, however, two fortresses on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine were excavated and dated back to the Umayyad period (41-132 A.H./661-750 A.D.); the first one is at Azdūd (Ashdod-Yam), and the second fortress is that of Kafr Lāb/Lām/ha-Bonim. The archaeologists working at these sites were faced with two fundamental questions: "what was the function of these fortresses" and "what term should we use to identify them?" This dissertation was born out of the desire to answer these questions. Divided into an introduction, three chapters and conclusion, the dissertation studies the Umayyad coastal ribāts of Palestine. It juxtaposes archaeological remains with primary sources in order to further our understanding of the phenomenon of the ribāt in general and of the Palestinian ribāt ̇s in particular. The Introduction provides an overview of the scholarly studies on the subject to date, and outlines the aims of the dissertation. In Chapter I, the physical remains of six sites along the Palestinian coast, including the ones mentioned above, are examined. Primary Arabic geographical sources mentioning these specific sites are cited. Towards the end of the chapter, I revert to the issue of identifying these edifices, I put forth the suggestion of naming them ribāt ̇s and raise the question of what the term ribāt ̇ means. I answer this question in Chapter II through the study of the history, development and definition of the term ribāt ̇ within the Arabic primary sources (starting with the Qur’ānic text and ending with the late Arabic dictionaries of the 12th A.H./18th A.D.). Chapter III focuses on the historical circumstances that led to the rise of the ribāts and on the reasons why the Muslims developed these fortresses. In the Conclusion, the dissertation challenges the long-standing connection between ribāts and North Africa, and shows that both literary information and archaeological evidence make it clear that Palestine was the actual birthplace of the ribāt defense system.
Social sciences; Archaeological; Israel; Monuments; Palestine; Ribats; Umayyad; Archaeology; Middle Eastern history; 0324:Archaeology; 0333:Middle Eastern history
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