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Between the ninth and the fifteenth centuries, Central Asia was a major political, economic and cultural hub on the Eurasian continent. In the first half of the thirteenth century it was also the pre-eminent centre of power in the largest land-based empire the world has ever seen. This third volume of Christoph Baumer's extensively praised and lavishly illustrated new history of the region is above all a story of invasion, when tumultuous and often brutal conquest profoundly shaped the later history of the globe. The author explores the rise of Islam and the remarkable victories of the Arab armies which - inspired by their vital, austere and egalitarian desert faith - established important new dynasties like the Seljuks, Karakhanids and Ghaznavids. A golden age of artistic, literary and scientific innovation came to a sudden end when, between 1219 and 1260, Genghiz Khan and his successors overran the Chorasmian-Abbasid lands. Dr Baumer shows that the Mongol conquests, while shattering to their enemies, nevertheless resulted in much greater mercantile and cultural contact between Central Asia and Western Europe.
Part One: The Historical, Social and Economic SettingDuring the eight centuries covered in this volume, the new faith of Islam arose in Arabia and gradually spread eastwards and northwards, eventually affecting much of Central Asia, the southern fringes of Siberia and the eastern regions of China. These were also the centuries in which nomadic and military empires arose in the heart of Asia, impinging on the history of adjacent, well-established civilizations and cultures (China, India, Islamic Western Asia and Christian eastern and central Europe) to an unparalleled extent. Lamaist Buddhism established itself inthe Mongolian region and in Tibet and Islam among the Turkish people of Transoxania, southern Siberia and Xinjiang. It was in Eastern Europe, above all in Russia, that the Turco-Mongol Golden Horde was to have a major, enduring influence on the course of the region's history.
The modern sense of “Greater Khorasan” today corresponds to a territory which not only comprises the region in the east of Iran but also, beyond Iranian frontiers, a part of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. In the past this entity was simply defined as Khorasan. In the Sassanidera Khorasan defined the “Eastern lands”. In the Islamic era this term was again taken up in the same sense it previously enjoyed. The Arab sources of the first centuries all mention the eastern regions under the same toponym, Khorasan. Khorasan was the gateway used by Alexander the Great to go into Bactria and India and, inversely, that through which the Seljuks and Mongols entered Iran. In a diachronic context Khorasan was a transit zone, a passage, a crossroads, which, above all in the medieval period, saw the creation of different commercial routes leading to the north, towards India, to the west and into China. In this framework, archaeological researches will be the guiding principle which will help us to take stock of a material culture which, as its history, is very diversified. They also offer valuable elements on commercial links between the principal towns of Khorasan. This book will provide the opportunity to better know the most recent elements of the principal constitutive sites of this geographical and political entity.
This set includes all four volumes of the critically acclaimed History of Central Asia series. The epic plains and arid deserts of Central Asia have witnessed some of the greatest migrations, as well as many of the most transformative developments, in the history of civilization. Christoph Baumer's ambitious four-volume treatment of the region charts the 3000-year drama of Scythians and Sarmatians; Soviets and transcontinental Silk Roads; trade routes and the transmission of ideas across the steppes; and the breathless and brutal conquests of Alexander the Great and Chinghiz Khan. Masterfully interweaving the stories of individuals and peoples, the author's engaging prose is richly augmented throughout by colour photographs taken on his own travels. This set includes The Age of the Steppe Warriors (Volume 1), The Age of the Silk Roads (Volume 2), The Age of Islam and the Mongols (Volume 3) and The Age of Decline and Revival (Volume 4)

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