The Monastic Landscape of Adiabene in the First Centuries of Islam


  • Karel Novacek Palacký University Olomouc
  • Philip Wood Aga Khan University London



North Iraq, monasteries, early Islamic period, settlement dynamics, Christian built environment, Islamic qusūr, hagiographies


The article considers the archaeological and literary evidence for Christian populations in provinceof Hadyab (Adiabene) in northern Iraq in the 5th to 9th centuries AD. We argue that there was a conspicuous expansion of settlements, both rural and urban, clustered around newly built churches, monasteries and fortifications in the 7th century. We link this to local Christian aristocrats (shahregan), who flourished under the light tax regime of the Early Caliphate and are discussed in contemporary Syriac hagiography.

Author Biographies

Karel Novacek, Palacký University Olomouc

Karel Nováček is Associate Professor of medieval archeology at Palacký University Olomouc,
department of history. As an archaeologist with a background in architectural history, he is
particularly interested in urban and monastic built environments, landscape archaeology, as
well as in pottery studies. Besides his research activity in Czech Republic, he directed or took
part in many survey projects in North Iraq and Kurdistan since 2006.

Philip Wood, Aga Khan University London

Philip Wood is Associate Professor at Aga Khan University, Institute for the Study of Muslim
Civilisations, which is located in London. His research focuses on Christians in the Middle East
in the Roman, Sasanian and early Islamic empires, c.400–850. He currenly holds a British Academy
Mid-career Fellowship to write a book on Dionysius of Tel-Mahre and the early Abbasid


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How to Cite

Novacek, K., & Wood, P. (2020). The Monastic Landscape of Adiabene in the First Centuries of Islam. Journal of Islamic Archaeology, 7(1), 1–20.