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Title: Islam in Iberia or Iberian Islam : sociobioarchaeology and the analysis of emerging Islamic identity in early medieval Iberia
Author: Inskip, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 8248
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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This research aims to demonstrate how archaeology can contribute to the analysis of religion and religious change. By viewing religion as a social construct, that takes meaning within its own context, the analysis of material culture provides an opportunity to look at long term religious change. This is because while religion strongly influences material culture, it is also reproduced by it. In particular, the body is critical in recreating and negotiating ideology due to physical conformity to religious ideals, which actively constructs identity. As bone adapts to reflect the physical strain placed on it during life, the analysis of changes in activity-related skeletal modifications provides a mechanism for assessing whether religious identity, and therefore ideology, changed and adapted over time. When combined with other evidence from material culture and historic sources, this social-cultural approach explores the development of religion and its role as a structuring principle, but also how it is influenced by other social, political and historic factors. This was demonstrated through the analysis of physical activity patterns from skeletal material from early Medieval Islamic Iberia (al-Andalus) AD 711- 1200, a region that underwent rapid social change with the emergence of Islam into a previously Christian state. Islam, as a historicx religion, has well established religious traditions. A comparison of ideal behaviour and actual behaviour, as evidenced through activity patterns, was carried out in order to analyse the impact of other social factors on identity in the region. In particular, this thesis focused on whether ideals surrounding gender division and prayer were adhered to in al-Andalus. Entheseal changes, osteoarthritis, non-pathological particular modifications and bone morphology data from Islamic and pre-Islamic individuals from the Islamic cemetery at Écija, Sevilla, and the pre-Islamic basilica at Cortijo de Coracho, Córdoba were compared. A distinct hange in activity patterns occurred with the emergence of Islam. A greater gendered division of labour was identified in the Islamic group, as well as possible evidence for the adoption of ritual prayer and reduced female mobility. The emergence of an Islamic identity was supported by clear trends in burial data and historic sources. Diachronic analysis of Islamic data implied that adherence to Islamic tradition appeared to strengthen over time. Overall, this research appeared to support historical documentation which suggests an orthodox Islamic identity in Iberia. To understand the emergence of an orthodox Islamic Iberian entity, important social and political factors were considered. Firstly, proximity to Christianity meant the observance of Islamic tradition was important for creating a distinction between ‘us’ (Muslims) and ‘them’ Christians. This became more important later when religious tensions increased in Iberia, where the Christian north organised into a credible threat to the Islamic South, but also in the east, with the initiation of the crusades. Secondly, the arrival and staunch Caliphal support of Maliki law, which has strong emphasis on Qur’anic rituals. Thirdly, Écija, is close to Córdoba, the capital of al-Andalus, and traditions could have spread easily from Córdoba along well stablished trade routes. This research therefore demonstrated that Islamic identity, and therefore Islam in Iberia was a product of the interpretation of tradition in a particular context, thus demonstrating the unique nature of Iberian Islam.
Supervisor: Sofaer, Joanna ; Zakrzewski, Sonia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy ; etc ; CC Archaeology