Anṭābulus, Barqa and Fazzān in the first two centuries of the hijra: new insights from the Egyptian sources

أنطابلس، برقة وفزان في القرنين الأولين للهجرة: قراءات جديدة من خلال المصادر المصرية

by Sébastien Garnier

أنطابلس، برقة وفزان في القرنين الأولين للهجرة: قراءات جديدة من خلال المصادر المصرية

Anṭābulus, Barqa and Fazzān in the first two centuries of the hijra: new insights from the Egyptian sources

Sobhi Bouderbala (University of Tunis, Tunisia)

Sobhi Bouderbala proposes to apprehend the conquest of the Libyan space through new lenses, especially to reconsider its relations with Fusṭāṭ. The main issues we must confront when studying this period can be summarized as follows. The specialization of historiography puts the narrative under a strong Egyptian perspective, if not influence. Besides, a certain lack of documentation in Cyrenaica has to be addressed.

The seizure of the coastal area dates back to 22/643. Moreover, when we talk about Anṭābulus and Barqa, we should distinguish two different conquests. Besides, the Fazzān was taken later, under the Umayyad rule. These elements put together draw the stable picture of three Libyan provinces in the political sphere of Fusṭāṭ approximatively until the reign of Ibn Ṭulūn. A series of textual clues support this view: political appointments, taxation and military organization.

Then arises the hot debated question of Garamantes and their aftermath. Did the legendary ʿUqba b. Nāfiʿ decide to transfer the southern capital city from Jarma to Zawīla, after ransacking the former, for practical reasons, among them trade routes are not the least? What about the Lawāta (Laguatan) and the Hawwāra? Will they be equated at the end? Were both terms employed to indicate diverging religious orientations (pagan vs muslim, e.g.)?

Sobhi Bouderbala also displays numismatic evidences to tackle the toponymic interrogations. He also resorts to his strong papyrological competences (working at the moment with Khaled Youssef on recently unearthed papyri in Fusṭāṭ) to illustrate the kind of connections that bind Egypt with its occidental territories.

The reader should refer to the following article written by Sobhi Bouderbala: “Al-Ḥabasha in Miṣr and the End of the World. Early Islamic Egyptian Apocalypses related Abyssinia”, NorthEast African Studies 19/1 (2019), p. 125-138. It can be retrieved here:Ḥabasha_in_Miṣr_and_the_End_of_the_World_Early_Islamic_Egyptian_Apocalypse_Narratives_Related_to_Abyssinia

We add two publications directly dealing with the topic of his presentation:

Bouderbala, S., « De l’Égypte à la Cyrénaïque : frontières, toponymies et conquêtes aux premiers siècles de l’Islam », in M-Fr. Boussac et alii (éd.), Western borders and margins of Egypt from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, Ifao, Cairo, p. 39-55 (forthcoming). 

Bouderbala, S., “Fusṭāṭ and its Libyan hinterland in Early Islam: conquests, administration and networks between Egypt, Cyrenaica and Fazzān”, in J. Loiseau (ed.), An African Metropolis. Cairo and itss African Hinterland in the Middle Ages, Ifao, Cairo (forthcoming).

The second part of the session saw dense exchanges between the audience and the speaker.

One concern is the toponymy: what is meant by Anṭābulus and Barqa? Can we infer something from what Hafed Abdouli (who teaches Medieval History, Sfax University) has exposed in December 2021 about Ṭarābulus and Labda? Is this a geographical problem, where Anṭābulus would name the city, but not the area? Is this a historical evolution, when Barqa tends to replace Anṭābulus beginning with the 3rd/9th century?

Another topic is the presumed absence of archeological evidences in Cyrenaica for the post-Byzantine era. The MAFL (Mission Archéologique Française de Libye) has exclusively focused on the Antiquity of Cyrenaica, which proves unfortunate if ones remains with the false impression that nothing has survived from the first Islamic centuries. Our esteemed colleague Enas Bubtana (who teaches Islamic Art and Archeaology, University of Benghazi) mentions for example many inscriptions and also the reuse of buildings (churches, monasteries, fortifications). More to follow…

Citer ce billet
Sébastien Garnier (2022, 15 avril). Anṭābulus, Barqa and Fazzān in the first two centuries of the hijra: new insights from the Egyptian sources. LibMed. Consulté le 22 mai 2024, à l’adresse

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