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Witnesses to a World CrisisHistorians and Histories of the Middle East in the Seventh Century$
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James Howard-Johnston

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199208593

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199208593.001.0001

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The Middle East in the Seventh Century

The Middle East in the Seventh Century

Arab Conquests

(p.461) 15 The Middle East in the Seventh Century
Witnesses to a World Crisis

James Howard‐Johnston

Oxford University Press

The initial Arab conquests are described and dated: Palestine and Syria (634–6); Persian Mesopotamia (636–40); northern Mesopotamia and south‐west Armenia (640); Khuzistan (640–2); Egypt (641–3); Iran (642–52). The unification of Arabia, achieved in the two years following the Prophet's death in 632, and Meccan organizational capability are identified as key factors in these early successes. Attention then turns to the Mediterranean where both sides dispatched naval expeditions against each other, ending with a grand Arab offensive targeted on Constantinople in 654. Failure there and reverses elsewhere helped trigger civil war in the caliphate (656–61). Mu‘awiya is shown to have imposed his authority with much bloodshed after ‘Ali's assassination in 658. Meanwhile Constans II (641–69) is seen preparing the rump of the Roman empire (customarily called Byzantium) for a long defensive war, and intervening first in Transcaucasia (660–1), then in the central Mediterranean (662–9).

Keywords:   Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Iran, Mediterranean, Mu‘awiya, ‘Ali, Constans, Byzantium, Transcaucasia

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