From Daʿwa to State: Castles and the Formation of the Nizari Ismaʿili State in Quhistan, Iran




Yeganehfarzand, Seyedhamed

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The present research concerns the network of Nizari Ismaʿili castles and the concept of Nizari Ismaʿili state in Iran during the so-called Alamut period (1090-1256). The research discusses various roles of the castles in the Nizari Ismaʿili state in the course of that period. Focusing on the Quhistan region, one of the major Nizari Ismaʿili territories in the northeast of Iran, the dissertation provides a detailed architectural study of 13 castles in the region. The treatment of the castles in the research, however, moves beyond the study of the castles as isolated defensive structures. Through a detailed examination of the architectural remains of the castles and the available primary sources, the research discusses several other non-defensive roles that the castles played during the Alamut period. The castles were an important component of the Nizari Ismaʿili offensive expansionist strategy; they were used as residences for the garrisons and the Ismaʿili elite; they were the centers of Nizari Ismaʿili intellectual activities; and they had symbolic significance during that period. In addition, the analysis of the distribution of the castles in Quhistan suggests that the Nizari Ismaʿilis consciously used their castles as means of territorial control. These roles were not fixed in the castles and would have changed over time depending on the political situation and the extent of the stability of the Nizari Ismaʿili power in each region. This multidimensional character of the castles supports the complex nature of the Nizari Ismaʿili presence in their territories and the notion of statehood of the Nizari Ismaʿili polity during the Alamut period.



Nizari Ismaʿili, Castles, Iran, Quhistan, State, Military Architecture, Alamut, Medieval, Islamic Architecture, Fortification, Archaeology