Etienne de la Vaissière - Assistant Professor, Department of Archaeology, Ecole pratique des hautes études, Paris, France
One of the results of the Arabic conquest of Central Asia at the beginning of the 8th century was the inclusion of the Central Asian elites and armies in the Muslim empire. Their influence there was important, as the Muslim world was twice conquered by them, first in 750 then in 811. But their specific social background is mainly known from Chinese sources as these Sogdian and Turkish armies were described in the Chinese histories. These elites and armies were active in Northern China before the Arabic conquest, so that to understand their background we have to compare Arabic and Chinese texts. ‘Mamluks on the Silk Road’ is the history of these social groups, known from the Korean frontier up to Cairo, which gave birth to the Mamluk phenomenon. Etienne de la Vaissière (b. 1969) is Assistant Professor, Department of Archaeology, Ecole pratique des hautes études, Paris, France. He is teaching Medieval Central Asian History, mainly from a social and economic point of view. He has published Sogdian Traders: A History (Leiden, Brill, 2005) and edited various conferences (les Sogdiens en Chine, Paris, EFEO, 2005, Royal Nawruz in Samarkand, Roma, 2007). He will publish in 2007 Samarcande et Samarra. Elites d’Asie centrale dans l’empire abbasside.