Die Ethnogenese der seldschukischen Tèurken im Urteil christlicher Geschichtsschreiber des 11. und 12. Jahrhunderts
AuthorBeihammer, Alexander Daniel
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The present study deals with the oldest surviving written reactions of Byzantine and Christian Oriental authors to the emergence of the Seljuk Turks in the Middle East and Asia Minor, mainly focusing on recognizable elements of a preexisting collective knowledge concerning barbarian nomads in general and the Turks in particular, as well as on prevailing modes of perception and mentalities reflected in these texts. The first part, after providing a survey of the extant material and the particularities of each tradition in Greek, Syriac, Armenian and Latin, examines the account of the late eleventh-century historian John Scylitzes in comparison with that of the twelfth-century Syrian writer Michael Syrus. The former appears to be a diligent compilation of ancient ethnographic stereotypes with pieces of historical information originating from the official Muslim version of Seljuk court ideology. Michael Syrus' report, instead, stays closer to ancient ethnographic traditions enriched with elements from Turkic myths of origin and biblical allusions. In general, one realizes the author's intention to explain the Turks' intrusion into the Muslim World through a rational interpretation of mythical features with the aid of religious, political and ethnological arguments. The second part concerns itself with Byzantine perceptions of early Seljuk institutions, in particular the notion of an independent Seljuk sultanate on Anatolian soil, which allegedly came into existence in about 1080. A re-examination of Anna Comnena and other relevant sources clearly shows that modern scholars who accept these views as historical facts widely ignore the highly confused and anachronistic use of terms, names and facts in Anna's account, which in retrospect describes the situation of 1080 through the prism of the realities of about 1140.