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Ian D. Morris
In distinct accounts about the slaves taken by early Muslim conquerors, I’m seeing the number 360 and thereabouts.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
Ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥakam says that when ‘Uqbah b. Nāfi‘ conquered three communities in North Africa around 667, he followed the same pattern:
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
At the oasis of Waddān in al-Jufrah, between Sirte and Fazzān (modern Libya), ‘Uqbah cut off the king’s ear and took 360 slaves.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
At the town of Jarmah, ancient Garama, in Fazzān (modern Libya), ‘Uqbah hit the king – made him “spit blood” – and took 360 slaves.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
At the Kawār oases, between Fazzān and Lake Chad (modern Niger), ‘Uqbah cut off the king’s finger and took 360 slaves.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
In each case, the king asks why he would brutalise someone who had surrendered, and ‘Uqbah replies: so you remember not to fight the Arabs.
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Christopher Rose Feb 11
one for every day of the lunar year?
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
This repetitive account is presumably fictionalised, based on a campaign of conquest and enslavement. 360 isn’t necessarily the true number.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
Then we have a bundle of reports in the Arabic Historical Tradition about an early treaty (baqṭ) between the Muslims and the Nubians.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
Under the treaty, often attributed to Ibn Abī Sarḥ, the Nubians were to surrender 360 – or 300, or 400 – healthy slaves, *annually*.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
There is relatively early testimony to the annual payment of slaves in a surviving letter from 758—sadly without a specified number.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
You can read more about the ‘baqṭ’ in Hinds and Sakkout, “A Letter from the Governor of Egypt”, republished in Hinds’ ‘Studies’.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
From these cases, it does look as though 360 is a topos—a literary commonplace, not to be taken literally—signifying a hefty amount.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
What’s really curious is that we find the same topos—more or less, but topoi are inherently malleable—in an Armenian account.
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Ibrahim Abdul-Rauf Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
rather oddly "low" number for a hefty amount though- in many accounts there r massive numbers given for armies, converts etc
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Sihong Lin Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
Fascinating! Accounts of early Byzantine-Arab treaties report that one slave was sent per day, so similar figure annually.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
The chronicler traditionally called Sebēos says the Muslims demanded 365 sacks of gold coins from the people of Media (Jibāl), annually.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
For every gold coin they failed to pay, the Arabs took one man.
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
So we have the number 360(-ish) associated with enslavement in disparate Arabic and Armenian accounts. A well-travelled topos?
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Ian D. Morris Feb 11
Replying to @iandavidmorris
Or perhaps there’s something practical or traditional about the number 360 that I’m missing, in which case slaves really were taken in 360s.
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