The Islamic world developed its own highly sophisticated, effective and varied style of fortification. It drew upon pre-existing Romano-Byzantine, Iranian, Central Asian and Indian traditions of military architecture, plus influences from China, to produce something new and distinctive. In turn, Islamic concepts of military architecture influenced fortifications throughout the Byzantine Empire and, to an even greater extent, in Western Europe. One key point of distinction with the latter in particular was that Islamic fortifications were primarily focussed upon defending cities and frontiers, rather than being associated with royal and feudal elites, as was the case in most of Europe. Despite this highly practical role, medieval Islamic military architecture went beyond the merely functional, and the finest surviving examples are imbued with a sense of symbolic magnificence. This title, the first of several proposed volumes in the Fortress series, takes a look at early Islamic fortifications in the central and eastern lands. It covers the historical background, socio-political circumstances, and purposes of early military architecture; the incorporation of several different traditions and the development of a distinctive character; and the fortifications' role in protecting industry, trade and the frontiers of the Islamic world. Subsequent volumes will deal with the 12th to 16th centuries in the center and east, and the western Islamic lands of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, respectively.
About the Author
DR. DAVID NICOLLE was born in 1944 and lives in England. He worked for BBC Television News and the BBC Arabic Services and, after returning to university to obtain a Doctorate, he taught in a Jordanian university. Since returning from the Middle East Dr. Nicolle has written numerous books, both academic and for the general reader, on various aspects of Islamic and medieval history. He has also contributed articles to many academic journals and specialist encyclopedias, and has presented papers at various scientific or historical conferences. Meanwhile Dr. Nicolle continues his research into medieval Islamic military technology, a field in which he is respected as a leading expert.
Adam Hook studied graphic design, and began his work as an illustrator in 1983. He specializes in detailed historical reconstructions, and has illustrated Osprey titles on subjects as diverse as the Aztecs, the Ancient Greeks, Roman battle tactics, several 19th-century American subjects, the modern Chinese Army, and a number of books in the Fortress series. His work features in exhibitions and publications throughout the world.
"It is worth your time to pick up “Saracen Strongholds” and I hope to check out some of the other “Fortress” titles in the near future." -Trask, livingdice.com (April 2009)
"... In this book, author David Nicholle covers the methods of construction as well as the major parts of [the] fortresses ... To help us visualize what some of these may have been like, Adam Hook has provided superlative illustrations of not only the physical layout, but also some of the action that took place at these locales ... Overall, another fine book in this series." -Scott Van Aken, modelingmadness.com (September 2008)
"As the Islamic Empire expanded, it drew upon a variety of earlier fortification styles: Romano-Byzantine, Indian and even Chinese. This book explains how these different themes were combined in Islamic fortifications... The book is authoritatively written and well illustrated." -Bolling Smith, Coast Defense Journal (September 2008)
"The book details some of the best examples of Islamic military architecture in the Middle East...Of course, if you are looking for a good description of one of these sites or even a regional description, the book can be a useful resource."-David Nicolle, FORTRESS 76 (July 2008)
"The Islamic world drew upon a myriad of pre-existing styles of fortication that was both new and distinctive. This book examines early Saracen fortifications, covering their historical background, socio-political circumstances, and their role in protecting the Islamic world." -Game Trade Magazine (April 2008)