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Chapter Summary

Based on new archaeological and textual evidence, this introductory chapter documents al-Ḥīra's historical impact far beyond its well-known role in literary history and describes its creation of a distinctly Arabic urban cultural symbiosis that drew on neighboring civilizations. Al-Ḥīra is formed as the cosmopolitan capital of a late antique Arabian principality between the Syrian Desert and the Middle Euphrates. The Arab-Islamic tradition also emphasizes the presence of a deep-rooted community of specific Ḥīrenser Christians. Al-Ḥīra was thus one of the earliest Arab Christian centers and stays in constant contact with the neighboring urban cultures (Byzantium, Iran) and with the partially nomadic Arab tribes of the peninsula (mostly of Central - and Eastern Arabia). There was constant contact between the inhabitants of the cities beyond the religious boundaries. The chapter also discusses the relationship between the Al-Ḥīra and Kūfa. The original text of the chapter is in German.

Keywords: Al-Ḥīra; Arab-Islamic tradition; Kūfa; Middle Euphrates; Syrian desert



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