Publications by Type: Book

Nomads as Agents of Cultural Change: The Mongols and Their Eurasian Predecessors
Nomads as Agents of Cultural Change: The Mongols and Their Eurasian Predecessors. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Since the first millennium BCE, nomads of the Eurasian steppe have played a key role in world history and the development of adjacent sedentary regions, especially China, India, the Middle East, and Eastern and Central Europe. Although their more settled neighbors often saw them as an ongoing threat and imminent danger—“barbarians,” in fact—their impact on sedentary cultures was far more complex than the raiding, pillaging, and devastation with which they have long been associated in the popular imagination. The nomads were also facilitators and catalysts of social, demographic, economic, and cultural change, and nomadic culture had a significant influence on that of sedentary Eurasian civilizations, especially in cases when the nomads conquered and ruled over them. Not simply passive conveyors of ideas, beliefs, technologies, and physical artifacts, nomads were frequently active contributors to the process of cultural exchange and change. Their active choices and initiatives helped set the cultural and intellectual agenda of the lands they ruled and beyond.

This volume brings together a distinguished group of scholars from different disciplines and cultural specializations to explore how nomads played the role of “agents of cultural change.” The beginning chapters examine this phenomenon in both east and west Asia in ancient and early medieval times, while the bulk of the book is devoted to the far flung Mongol empire of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. This comparative approach, encompassing both a lengthy time span and a vast region, enables a clearer understanding of the key role that Eurasian pastoral nomads played in the history of the Old World. It conveys a sense of the complex and engaging cultural dynamic that existed between nomads and their agricultural and urban neighbors, and highlights the non-military impact of nomadic culture on Eurasian history.

Nomads As Agents of Cultural Change illuminates and complicates nomadic roles as active promoters of cultural exchange within a vast and varied region. It makes available important original scholarship on the new turn in the study of the Mongol empire and on relations between the nomadic and sedentary worlds.

Holy War and Rapprochement: Studies in the Relations between the Mamluk Sultanate and the Mongol Ilkhanate (1260-1335)
Amitai, Reuven. Holy War and Rapprochement: Studies in the Relations between the Mamluk Sultanate and the Mongol Ilkhanate (1260-1335). Turnhout: Brepols, 2013. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The sixty year struggle (1260-1320) between the Mamluk Sultanate of Syria and Egypt and the Ilkhanate, the Mongol realm in Iran and the surrounding countries, had a profound impact on the region’s ruling elites and the general population, as well as on neighboring countries and beyond. It is possible to speak of a thirteenth century “world war”: on one side were arrayed the Mamluks and the Mongol Golden Horde of southern Russia, at times Genoa and the Byzantine empire, while on the other side we find the Ilkhanate, the Venetians (albeit still trading with the Mamluks), the states of western Europe, the Papacy, the Armenians of both the Caucasus and Cilicia, and Georgia. To these we could add minor, but still important actors: the Bedouin of Syria, the Seljuqs of Rum (Anatolia), the Turcoman of that country, and even more. Far away, the Mongols of Central Asia and the Great Khan in China also had an impact on affairs along the Mediterranean coast and southwest Asia. The present volume is based on four lectures given at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris in February 2007, and first provides an overview of the military struggle between these two regional powers, continues with a detailed discussion of the ideological posturing and sparring between them – both before and after the conversion of the Mongols to Islam in the 1290s, and finally reviews and compares how the Mamluks and Mongols presented themselves to the local, mainly Muslim, populations that they ruled. The book provides an analysis of an important chapter in Middle Eastern, Asian and world history.

Islam in Europe: Case Studies, Comparisons & Overviews
Islam in Europe: Case Studies, Comparisons & Overviews. Jerusalem: The European Forum at the Hebrew University, 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract

On 10-11 December 2006, the European Forum in cooperation with the Nehemia Levtzion Center for Islamic Studies at the Hebrew University, and with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, held an international conference on “Islam in Europe: Eurabia or European Islam”. This publication is the outcome of that conference.

The Mongols in the Islamic Lands: Studies in the History of the Ilkhanate
Amitai, Reuven. The Mongols in the Islamic Lands: Studies in the History of the Ilkhanate. Aldershot, UK and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Mongols had a profound effect on the regions that they ruled in the eastern Muslim world, from the first Mongol invasion in 1219 through the breakup of the Ilkhanate in 1335 and the various, short-lived successor states. The influence of their rule – positive as well as negative – on the peoples of Iran and the neighboring countries can be seen in such diverse areas as demography, economics, art and other types of material culture, intellectual and religious life, military affairs, government, etc. This book brings together a series of studies that deal with some of these aspects in the state established around 1260 by Hülegü, grandson of Chinggis Khan: the development of the land-tenure system; the title ilkhan; the use of Arabic sources for the history of the Ilkhanate; the eventual conversion of the Mongols to Islam; and – most prominently – the ongoing war with the Mamluk Sultanate to the west.

Mongols, Turks and Others: Eurasian Nomads and the Sedentary World
Mongols, Turks and Others: Eurasian Nomads and the Sedentary World. Leiden: Brill, 2005. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The interaction between the Eurasian pastoral nomads - most famously the Mongols and Turks - and the surrounding sedentary societies is a major theme in world history. Nomads were not only raiders and conquerors, but also transmitted commodities, ideas, technologies and other cultural items. At the same time, their sedentary neighbours affected the nomads, in such aspects as religion, technology, and political culture. The essays in this volume use a broad comparative approach that highlights the multifarious nature of nomadic society and its changing relations with the sedentary world in the vicinity of China, Russia and the Middle East, from antiquity into the contemporary world.

The Mongol Empire and its Legacy
The Mongol Empire and its Legacy. Leiden: Brill, 1999. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Mongol empire was founded early in the 13th century by Chinggis Khan and within the span of two generations embraced most of Asia, becoming the largest land-based state in history. The united empire lasted only until around 1260, but the major successor states continued on in the Middle East, present day Russia, Central Asia and China for generations, leaving a lasting impact - much of which was far from negative - on these areas and their peoples. The papers in this volume present new perspectives on the establishment of the Mongol empire, Mongol rule in the eastern Islamic world, Central Asia and China, and the legacy of this rule. The various authors approach these subjects from the view of political, military, social, cultural and intellectual history.

Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War 1260-1281
Amitai, Reuven. Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War 1260-1281. Cambridge MA: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Publisher's VersionAbstract

For sixty years, from 1260 to 1323, the Mamluk state in Egypt and Syria was at war with the Ilkhanid Mongols based in Persia. This is the first comprehensive study of the political and military aspects of the early years of the war, from the battle of 'Ayn Jalut in 1260 to the battle of Homs in 1281. In between these campaigns, the Mamluk-Ilkhanid struggle was continued in the manner of a 'cold war' with both sides involved in border skirmishes, diplomatic manoeuvres, and espionage. Here, as in the major battles, the Mamluks usually maintained the upper hand, establishing themselves as the foremost Muslim power at the time. By drawing on previously untapped Persian and Arabic sources, the author sheds new light on the confrontation, examining the war within the context of Mongol/Mamluk relations with the Byzantine Empire, the Latin West and the Crusading states.