The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Archaeology
By Bethany Walker, Timothy Insoll and Corisande Fenwick, eds.
2020, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19998-787-0, $175 hb.
Reviewed by Tom Verde on March 16, 2021
The wider, historic Islamic world—from West Africa to Southeast Asia—is canvassed in this overview of its archeological past, broken down by individual regions (Arabia and the Gulf, Central Asia, the Sahara, etc.). Chronologically, the chapters, penned by various experts, extend from “medieval to modern,” commencing with the Islamic conquest of the Levant in the seventh century CE and extending up to the 21st century. Rich in history, each chapter discusses major finds and how they inform our understanding of Islam’s impact on such dynamics as architecture, trade, material culture, rural versus urban society and more. In the discussion of Syria’s early Islamic past, we learn that under the Abbasids, mosques began to be “characterized by their large dimension and belong to a Mesopotamian tradition.” An exceptionally informative reference work for the scholar and lay reader alike.