The Mongols' Middle East: Continuity and Transformation in Ilkhanid Iran.

Author:Brack, Jonathan
 
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The Mongols' Middle East: Continuity and Transformation in Ilkhanid Iran. Edited by BRUNO DE NICOLA and CHARLES MELVILLE. Islamic History and Civilization, vol. 127. Leiden: BRILL, 2016. Pp. xiii + 346. $149, [euro]115.

During the Ilkhanid period (1260-1335 or 1353), the areas under Mongol rule--including present-day Iran, Azerbaijan, and eastern Anatolia--underwent far-reaching and consequential transformations. These changes are evinced both in the breaking up of earlier patterns and imposition and rise of new formations, which would continue to shape the eastern Islamic world, particularly in Iran, in the centuries to come, as well as in the acceleration and reinforcement of earlier processes, especially since the eleventh-century Seljuk invasions. To date, the most detailed study of changes and continuities under Ilkhanid (as well as Seljuk) rule has been Ann K. S. Lambton's Continuity and Change in Medieval Persia (1988). In recent years, however, other studies have come to explore, though not as comprehensively as Lambton's seminal work, various aspects of continuity and change under Mongol rule as well as among the Mongols themselves in the Ilkhanate, focusing especially on questions related to Mongol Islamization and acculturation. This recent edited collection under review is a welcome contribution to this promising line of inquiry. One of the merits of the volume's articles is that they largely avoid the more frequently visited issue of Mongol conversion to Islam, offering instead more refined and small-scale explorations of the theme of continuity and change in and around the Ilkhanate. That said, however, the reader might find it difficult to reconcile these very diverse "snapshots" into a more comprehensive presentation of continuities and changes in the given period. This leaves Lambton's ground-breaking study, three decades from its initial publication, still the most instructive discussion of the place of the Ilkhanate in view of the larger shifting patterns in greater Iran, even if the work is in dire need of major revision and updating.

The volume is thematically divided. The first part, "The Mongol Conquest of the Middle East," comprises two chapters on Mongol warfare contributed by the leading experts, Reuven Amitai and Timothy May. In the second section on "politics, economy and religion," Esther Ravalde examines the renowned vizier Juwaynfs (d. 1284) patronage networks and political negotiations. She makes two...

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