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Samanid Silver and Trade along the Fur Route

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Abstract While much scholarly attention has been devoted to cultural exchange in recent years, most of the focus has been on the Mediterranean Sea and the land and sea routes connecting China to the Islamic world and beyond to Europe. In the tenth century, another major trading route also flourished between Central Asia and northeastern Europe. Furs and slaves were sent from Scandinavia, Russia and Eastern Europe in exchange for silver which was mined in the realm of the Samanids in Central Asia. Not only were Samanid coins used as currency by the Vikings, but Samanid luxury metalwork objects have also been found in Europe. Using the evidence of such finds, this paper posits the Fur Route as a major avenue of cultural interchange in the Middle Ages and the Samanids as important actors on the medieval global stage. An examination of their far-flung trading connections along the Fur Route not only reveals transmission between these regions, but also reiterates the importance of the Samanids in the history of Islamic art and in that of the broader medieval world.


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