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Before and After MuhammadThe First Millennium Refocused$
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Garth Fowden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691158532

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691158532.001.0001

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An Eastward Shift

(p.92) 4 Space
Before and After Muhammad

Garth Fowden

Princeton University Press

This chapter contextualizes Islam's early history by proposing an eastward shift of emphasis. It revises the geographical framework; the Mediterranean world of the Greeks and Romans is replaced by the “Eurasian Hinge,” a triptych of regions with the Iranian plateau and the Eastern Mediterranean as its wings, and the “Mountain Arena” as its centerpiece. This geographical framework adopts the Eurasian perspective in its widest sense, from Japan or at least China to Britain, and makes Rome's eastern peripheries the center of one's world. The chapter argues that the “Eurasian Hinge” nourished two world empires no other could challenge and which, along with Christian Rome, spawned political and cultural “commonwealths” within the same frame: the Achaemenids with their continuator Alexander, and a millennium later the Islamic Caliphate of the Umayyads and Abbasids.

Keywords:   empires, Islam, Mediterranean, Eurasian Hinge, Mountain Arena, Christian Rome, commonwealths, Achaemenids, Umayyads, Abbasids

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