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Book: Archaeology, Politics and Islamicate Cultural Heritage in Europe

Chapter: 12. Nomadic Islam: An Archaeological Approach to the Islamization of the Caspian Steppe

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.36081


Islam arrived in the Caspian Steppe from the territories of the Caliphate in the 9th-10th centuries CE. Its influence and material culture have been found throughout Eastern Europe and even in Scandinavia. This cultural transmission of goods and people was often facilitated by the nomadic communities of the Eurasian Steppe, such as the Khazars, Oghuz, and Bulghars, who themselves began converting to Islam. Nomadic Islam however is generally poorly understood. This chapter demonstrates that archaeological research is in a unique position to provide evidence for the Islamization of nomadic people and for the pluralistic practices that followed this process.

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