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Becoming Muslim: Cultural Change, Everyday Life and State Formation in early Islamic North Africa (600-1000)

Objective

The Muslim conquests of North Africa in the 7th century transformed the everyday lives of communities– between 800-1000, the region experienced an economic ‘Golden Age’, visible in the growth of urban populations, intensified exchange across a vast trading system and the introduction of new agricultural practices and technologies. New social-religious norms underpinned the development of a distinctly ‘Islamic cultural package’ marked by the spread of new aesthetics, public and private architecture and Muslim dietary practices. Despite significant recent advances, much of our knowledge continues to reflect the experience of rulers and elites, rather than the bulk of the population. Our understanding of the timing and process of these innovations is hampered by a reliance on later literary sources, monumental architecture and the high arts, the absence of high-resolution archaeological data and an incomplete understanding of what these changes meant for the people living on the ground. Through new excavations and scientific analysis using state-of the-art methods, legacy datasets and written sources, this project will explore the underlying reasons for the spread of Islamic way of life in North Africa between ca. 600-1000 CE. In so doing, this project aims to make a paradigmatic shift in scholarly understanding of the impact of Muslim rule by focusing on local populations, their houses and their everyday practices. It will take a comparative approach and study long-term changes in housing, agriculture, diet and technology in three key regions: 1) the central Medjerda valley in Tunisia, the famed granary of Roman and Islamic Africa; 2) the fertile Sebou Basin in Morocco, at the centre of the Idrisid state; 3) the Saharan oasis belt of the Wadi Draa in Morocco, on the margins of settled life. The ambitious objective is to rewrite the history of Muslim rule and the Islamisation of daily life from the perspective of the communities living through this pivotal period.

Field of science

  • /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries/agriculture

Call for proposal

ERC-2020-STG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
Address
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT London
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 498 688

Beneficiaries (1)

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 1 498 688
Address
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments