chapter  1
31 Pages

The origins and early history of the Selju¯qs: Western Eurasia and Transoxiana, c. 900–1025

The history of the Middle East is intertwined with that of the Eurasian steppe. Long before the emergence of the Selju¯qs, the ‘Abba¯sids had sought to exploit Turkishmanpower for their armies. Byzantium, too, relied on its Turkish allies, the Khazar empire, to guard its frontiers to the north of the Black Sea. Geographers, travellers and historians from Byzantium and the Islamic Middle East preserve valuable fragments of information regarding the steppe. At the other extremity of Eurasia, Chinese sources recount the Middle Kingdom’s efforts to deal with its difficult – and often powerful – nomadic neighbours. These sources allow us to discern the broad outlines of the great migratory movements of the late first millenium from which the Selju¯qs emerged.