Samarqand et le Sughd a l' epoque 'abbasside: Histoire politique et sociale. By YURY KAREV. Studia Iranica, Cahiers, vol. 55. Paris: ASSOCIATION POUR L'AVANCEMENT DES ETUDES IRANIENNES, 2015. Pp. 372. [euro]40 (paper).
In this French volume under review, Yury Karev offers a multidisciplinary study that aims to "restituer de maniere detaillee l'histoire politique et sociale du Ma'wara'annahr" (p. 27). The book focuses on Samarqand, the capital of ancient and medieval Sughd, in today's Uzbekistan, and covers the period from the beginning of the Abbasid revolution ("747" in the book) to the beginning of the Samanid era ("820s"). Karev provides a sound scholarly apparatus with transliteration tables of Arabic, Persian, Chinese, and Cyrillic (pp. 11-12), historical maps produced by himself (pp. 38-40), two indexes of personal names and toponyms, without further subdivisions (pp. 355-72), and a detailed bibliography subdivided into Chinese, Byzantine, and "Arabo-Persian" primary sources, and secondary literature (pp. 13-26). The secondary sources contain a good number of Russian-language studies, including numismatic and archaeological reports from the archaeological excavations at Samarqand. Karev also adds plans of architectural sites, e.g., maps showing the oasis walls of Samarqand (p. 113) and 3-D reconstructions of the eighth-century Abbasid palace of Samarqand (pp. 119-21).
Karev's critical apparatus is relatively consistently applied. The footnoting is detailed, although not always adequate--for instance, for a citation from Kitab al-Qand, the bibliographical reference is missing entirely and it is not clear whether the Arabic original or the Persian adaptation was used (p. 51). Transliteration errors and spelling mistakes are present, but not to such a degree that the reader is distracted by them.
Karev situates his study within the scholarship of V. V. Barthold, O. G. Bol'shakov, E. Daniel, F. Amabe, S. Said Agha, M. Shaban, and M. Sharon, which, he says, provided an important base for scholars studying the eastern Islamic lands of the Abbasids, but suffered from "un cadre centre' sur Baghdad et Marw, une approche qui faisait du Mawara'annahr une partie peripherique et presque indistincte du Grand Khurasan" (p. 35). He views E. de La Vaissiere's study Sogdian Traders (2004, Eng. trans. 2005) as exemplary in giving Transoxanian places like Samarqand their due, and for studying them as centers rather than caliphal peripheries. There have...