chapter  5
The archaeology of Islam
Pages 25

Islam is a religion which is in many ways easier to assess in terms of archaeological visibility than some of the other world religions examined in this volume, such as, for example, Christianity or Hinduism. These are issues which have been considered both in Chapter 1 and elsewhere (see Insoll 1999), and is essentially due to the fact that Islam is composed of a uniform superstructure composed of the fundamentals of belief, what can be termed, ‘structuring principles’, with below this a diverse substructure of practices, cultures and their material manifestations, what can be termed, ‘regional diversity’. Thus, it can be suggested, the presence of a Muslim should be recognisable in the archaeological record, for being a Muslim should generate certain types of material culture, specific to the faith, and reflecting its doctrines and requirements upon the believer. This, in turn, means that categories of archaeological evidence can exist, from the Atlantic to central Asia, which could indicate the presence of a Muslim community. Yet how these categories are manifest will be extremely diverse.