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By Greg Fisher

Arabs and Empires ahead of Islam illuminates the background of the Arabs sooner than the emergence of Islam, collating approximately 2 hundred and fifty translated extracts from an in depth array of historic assets. Drawn from a huge interval among the 8th century BC and the center a while, the resources contain texts written in Greek, Latin, Syriac, Persian, and Arabic, inscriptions in quite a few languages and alphabets, and discussions of archaeological websites from around the close to East. greater than twenty overseas specialists from the fields of archaeology, classics and old background, linguistics and philology, epigraphy, and paintings heritage, offer specific observation and research in this diversified choice of fabric.

Richly-illustrated with 16 color plates, fifteen maps, and over seventy in-text photographs, the quantity presents a accomplished, wide-ranging, and up to date exam of what historical assets needed to say concerning the politics, tradition, and faith of the Arabs within the pre-Islamic interval. It bargains a whole attention of the strains which the Arabs have left within the epigraphic, literary, and archaeological documents, and sheds gentle on their dating with their frequently more-powerful neighbours: the states and empires of the traditional close to East. Arabs and Empires earlier than Islam gathers jointly a bunch of fabric by no means sooner than accrued right into a unmarried quantity - a few of which appears to be like in English translation for the first actual time - and offers a unmarried element of reference for a colourful and dynamic sector of research.

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They are difficult to date, but the earliest texts we can identify are already fully formed in the mid-first millennium bc and they do not seem to continue beyond the fourth century ad. Linguistically they are quite diverse, but are grouped together as ‘Ancient North Arabian’ because the various alphabets they are carved in all belong to the South Semitic alphabet family of which the musnad, or Ancient South Arabian alphabet, is the most famous example. This family was one of the two branches of the original alphabet (the other being the Phoenico-Aramaic family from which descend all but one of the traditional alphabets today) and it was used exclusively in pre-Islamic Arabia, southern Syria, and Ethiopia.

1). 6 We cannot tell whether any of the inhabitants of the Peninsula thought of it as ‘Arabia’, but it seems probable that they did not. Such massive geopolitical concepts are unlikely to have occurred to peoples living in relatively small groups, conscious of the differences between themselves and their neighbours and (for those who travelled within the Peninsula) of the great variety of landscapes, social groups, polities, and customs they encountered. We certainly 5 See the very careful assessment by Yon 2002: 87–97.

This does not necessarily mean that the authors or commissioners of the Ancient North Arabian, Nabataean, or Palmyrene inscriptions were unaware of people(s) called ‘Arabs’—let alone that such people(s) did not exist—but simply that either they were not relevant to the subject matter of the texts which have survived or that they were referred to in other ways, such as by their tribal affiliations. 10 below refers to the ‘king of Tanūkh’ without it being necessary to specify that he was an ‘Arab’.

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