Chronology and routes of the Arab campaigns in Dagestan during Marwan ibn Muhammad’s viceroyalty in the Caucasus

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Leading Scientific Worker, Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography, Daghestan Scientific Center of Russian Academy of science
Affiliation: Daghestan Scientific Center of Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Makhachkala
Journal nameVostok. Afro-Aziatskie obshchestva: istoriia i sovremennost
EditionIssue 6

The available sources do not indicate when exactly Marwan ibn Muhammad became the Caliph’s viceroy in Arminiya and Azarbayjan, but one can confidently say that this must have been in late 116 AH (735 CE). Sources report that during Marwan’s governorship in the Caucasus, the Arabs launched four attacks against the rulers of Dagestan. The first raid was directed against the king of Tuman (Tumanshah), reportedly in 117 AH (735). The second raid, of a year later (736), attacked the king of al-Lakz. The third raid took place in 120 AH (738) and was directed against the Tumanshah. The fourth and largest campaign was the most ambitious and long lasting; it was directed against Sarir, Zerihgeran (the modern village of Kubachi and its district), Khamzin, and others regions. This protracted raid began in 121 AH (739) and was completed no earlier than the end of 740; most likely, it even lasted until 743. The works od Arab medieval literature report that the ruler of al-Lakz was killed either in 118 AH (736), or in 122 AH (740). The present article demonstrates that only the first of these dates can be correct. A number of details in the testimony of the sources make it possible to state that during Marwan’s fourth campaign, Arab forces advanced to mountainous Dagestan through the Dindidag pass. According to the Arabic historiographer al-Kufi (ninth century), the first Sarir fortress captured by Marwan was called al-Balal. It can be identified with the toponym Balial – the modern name of a mountain peak adjacent to the Dindidag pass. Another conclusion of this article is that the country of Tumanshah (i.e., the state of Tuman) should be localized in modern Kulinskiy district of the Republic of Dagestan.

KeywordsMarwan ibn Muhammad, Khazar Khaganate, Derbent, Tabarsaran, Filan, Lakz, Bilistan, Shirvan, Layzan, Dudaniya, Sarir, al-Balal, Gumik, Tuman, Khamzin (Khaydak; Kaytag), Zerikhgeran
Publication date27.12.2018
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