"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Red Sea

The American University of Cairo Press recently sent me their new catalogue, and as one would expect, many of the books in there treat the recent so-called Arab Spring and its implications for Egypt and beyond. Among the titles that caught my attention were the following: Timothy Power, The Red Sea from Byzantium to the Caliphate: AD 500-1000 (AUC Press, June 2012, 384pp.).

About this book the publisher tells us:
The historic process traditionally referred to as the fall of Rome and rise of Islam is viewed from the perspective of the Red Sea, a strategic waterway linking the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and a distinct region incorporating Africa with Arabia. The transition from Byzantium to the Caliphate is contextualized in the contestation of regional hegemony between Aksumite Ethiopia, Sasanian Iran, and the Islamic Hijaz. The economic stimulus associated with Arab colonization is then considered, including the foundation of ports and roads linking new metropolises and facilitating commercial expansion, particularly gold mining and the slave
trade. Finally, the economic inheritance of the Fatimids and the formation of the commercial networks glimpsed in the Cairo Geniza are contextualized in the diffusion of the Abbasid ‘bourgeois revolution’ and resumption of the ‘India trade’ under the Tulunids and Ziyadids.

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