Home Region:  Southeastern Europe (Europe)

The Emirate of Crete

D G SC WF HS EQ 2020  gr_crete_emirate / GrCrEmr

Preceding:
[hostile; Middle Byzantine Empire] [hostile]   Update here
Add one more here.

Succeeding:
No Polity found. Add one here.

Between 824 and 962, Crete was ruled by Andalusian Arabs. The latter had taken the island from the Byzantines (who subsequently lost the control of the maritime trade routes in the Aegean specifically and the eastern Mediterranean generally), and made it into an emirate, with Khandax, i.e. modern-day Heraklion, as its capital. The surviving evidence for the organization of the emirate and the Cretan society of the period is, unfortunately, scanty, with almost no archaeology and few, contradictory written sources. The original Byzantine sources are biased against the Arabs, and quite a few modern scholars have taken these sources at face value, presenting the Arabs as uncivilized barbarians, overly concerned with piracy. In fact, based on what is known about Arabic civilization in the rest of the Mediterranean at this time, it is likely that the Emirate of Crete was similarly sophisticated in its culture and social organization, though to its prolonged animosity with the Byzantines, it almost certainly retained a strong militaristic character as well. In 962, the Byzantines regained control of the island. [1] [2]
Population and political organization
A rough estimate of the island’s population at this time is of 250,000 inhabitants. [3] In terms of its political organization, Crete was divided into forty districts and was ruled by an emir who only nominally recognized the Caliph of Baghdad. [2]

[1]: (Christides 2011, 17) Vassilios Christides. 2011. ’The cycle of the Arab-Byzantine struggle in Crete (ca. 824/6-961 AD) in the illuminate manuscript of Skylitzes (Codex Martinensis Graecus Vitr. 26-2)’. Craeco-Arabica 9: 17.

[2]: (Christides 1984) Vassilios Christides. 1984. The Conquest of Crete by Arabs (ca. 824). A Turning Point in the Struggle Between Byzantium and Islam. Athens: Akademia Athenon.

[3]: (Papadopoulos 1948, 37) Ioannes B. Papadopoulos. 1948. Η Κρήτη υπό τους Σαρακηνούς (824-961). Athens: Byzantinisch-Neugriechischen Jahrbücher.

General Variables
Identity and Location
Utm Zone:
35 S  
Original Name:
The Emirate of Crete  
Capital:
Khandax  
Alternative Name:
Arabic Crete  
Saracen Crete  
Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
[824 CE ➜ 961 CE]  
Duration:
[824 CE ➜ 961 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
none  
Supracultural Entity:
Christianity and Islam  
Succeeding Entity:
Middle Byzantine Empire  
Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
[15,000,000 to 20,000,000] km2  
Relationship to Preceding Entity:
hostile  
Preceding Entity:
UNCLEAR:    [hostile]  
Degree of Centralization:
unitary state  
Language
Linguistic Family:
Indo-European  
Hamito-Semitic  
Language:
Greek  
Arabic  
Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
12,000 people  
Polity Territory:
8,336 km2  
Polity Population:
250,000 people  
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
3  
Religious Level:
4  
Military Level:
3  
Administrative Level:
5  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
present  
Professional Priesthood:
present  
Professional Military Officer:
present  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
unknown  
Merit Promotion:
unknown  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
present  
Law
Judge:
present  
Formal Legal Code:
present  
Court:
present  
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
inferred present  
Irrigation System:
inferred present  
Food Storage Site:
inferred present  
Drinking Water Supply System:
inferred present  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
present  
Port:
present  
Canal:
absent  
Bridge:
present  
Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
present  
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
present  
Script:
present  
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
present  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
present  
Sacred Text:
present  
Religious Literature:
present  
Practical Literature:
present  
Philosophy:
present  
Lists Tables and Classification:
present  
History:
present  
Fiction:
present  
Calendar:
present  
Information / Money
Token:
present  
Precious Metal:
present  
Paper Currency:
absent  
Indigenous Coin:
present  
Foreign Coin:
present  
Article:
present  
Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
absent  
General Postal Service:
absent  
Courier:
absent  
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
unknown  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
unknown  
  Stone Walls Mortared:
present  
  Moat:
present  
  Earth Rampart:
unknown  
  Ditch:
present  
  Complex Fortification:
present  
  Long Wall:
absent  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
absent  
  Iron:
present  
  Bronze:
absent  
Projectiles
  Tension Siege Engine:
present  
  Sling Siege Engine:
present  
  Sling:
present  
  Self Bow:
present  
  Javelin:
present  
  Handheld Firearm:
absent  
  Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent  
  Crossbow:
present  
  Composite Bow:
present  
  Atlatl:
absent  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
present  
  Sword:
present  
  Spear:
present  
  Polearm:
present  
  Dagger:
present  
  Battle Axe:
present  
Animals used in warfare
  Horse:
present  
  Elephant:
absent  
  Dog:
absent  
  Camel:
absent  
Armor
  Shield:
present  
  Scaled Armor:
present  
  Plate Armor:
absent  
  Limb Protection:
present  
  Leather Cloth:
present  
  Laminar Armor:
present  
  Helmet:
present  
  Chainmail:
present  
  Breastplate:
present  
Naval technology
  Specialized Military Vessel:
present  
  Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
present  
  Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
unknown  
Religion Tolerance Nothing coded yet.
Human Sacrifice Nothing coded yet.
Crisis Consequences Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions Nothing coded yet.

NGA Settlements:

Year Range The Emirate of Crete (gr_crete_emirate) was in:
 (824 CE 960 CE)   Crete
Home NGA: Crete

General Variables
Identity and Location

Original Name:
The Emirate of Crete

Capital:
Khandax

The capital of the Emirate was Khandax, the modern city of Heraklion.


Alternative Name:
Arabic Crete
Alternative Name:
Saracen Crete

Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
[824 CE ➜ 961 CE]



Duration:
[824 CE ➜ 961 CE]

Political and Cultural Relations

Supracultural Entity:
Christianity and Islam

Christianity (Byzantine) for the local population of Crete and Islam for the Arabs conquerors.


Succeeding Entity:
Middle Byzantine Empire

Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
[15,000,000 to 20,000,000] km2

km squared. To the East, Christianity and Islam extended not only into the Middle East, but also as far as Central Asia, India and China. In Africa present as far south as Ethiopia.


Relationship to Preceding Entity:
hostile

The Andalusian Arabs conquered Crete in 824. Their relation with the Byzantine Empire was very hostile. Byzantines attemped to reconquest Crete many times and for the approximately 135 years of its existence, the Emirate of Crete was one of the major enemies of the Byzantine Empire. [1]

[1]: Christides, B. The Conquest of Crete by Arabs (ca. 824). A Turning Point in the Struggle Between Byzantium and Islam, Athens.


Preceding Entity:
Middle Byzantine Empire

The Andalusian Arabs conquered Crete in 824. Their relation with the Byzantine Empire was very hostile. Byzantines attemped to reconquest Crete many times and for the approximately 135 years of its existence, the Emirate of Crete was one of the major enemies of the Byzantine Empire. [1]

[1]: Christides, B. The Conquest of Crete by Arabs (ca. 824). A Turning Point in the Struggle Between Byzantium and Islam, Athens.


Degree of Centralization:
unitary state

Language
Linguistic Family:
Indo-European
Linguistic Family:
Hamito-Semitic

Language:
Greek

Creek for local population and andalusian arabic for the Arabs.

Language:
Arabic

Creek for local population and andalusian arabic for the Arabs.


Religion

Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
12,000 people

Inhabitants. The largest settlement of the island is Khandax (Candia, the modern Iraklion). It population is speculated to 12,000 souls. [1]

[1]: Παπαδόπουλος, Ι.Β. 1948. Η Κρήτη υπό τους Σαρακηνούς (824-961), Athens, 37.


Polity Territory:
8,336 km2

Km2. In terms of its political organization, Crete was divided into forty districts and was ruled by an emir who only nominally recognized the Caliph of Baghdad. [1] The area of the whole island of Crete is 8,336 square kilometres.

[1]: (Christides 1984) Vassilios Christides. 1984. The Conquest of Crete by Arabs (ca. 824). A Turning Point in the Struggle Between Byzantium and Islam. Athens: Akademia Athenon.


Polity Population:
250,000 people

People. This is a rough estimate. [1]

[1]: Παπαδόπουλος, Ι.Β. 1948. Η Κρήτη υπό τους Σαρακηνούς (824-961), Athens, 37.


Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
3

levels. 1-3 Written sources (excavated testimonies are very meager) suggest the existence of 29 towns the largest of which were Khandax (the modern Heraklion), Gortys (south central Crete) and Kydonia (west Crete) the population of which is speculated to 12,000 inhabitants. [1] Small villages and hamlets were scattered in the hinterland. Almost nothing is known about the situation of the towns of Crete and about the urban and country population.

[1]: Παπαδόπουλος, Ι.Β. 1948. Η Κρήτη υπό τους Σαρακηνούς (824-961), Athens, 37; Christides, B. The Conquest of Crete by Arabs (ca. 824). A Turning Point in the Struggle Between Byzantium and Islam, Athens, 97-8; 106-08.


Religious Level:
4

levels. 4-1 For the Christian population: The Patriarch of Constantinople (4); the archbishop of Crete (3); 22 regional bishops (2); priests (1). [1] The Arab population was muslims sunnis and recognized the supreme religious authority of Amir al-Mu’minin of Bagdad. [2]

[1]: Τωμαδάκης, Ν. Β. 1961-1962. "Η Εκκλησία της Κρήτης κατά την Αραβοκρατία (ιστορία-επίσκοποι-άγιοι), Κρητικά Χρονικά ΙΕ-ΙΣΤ, 193-212.

[2]: Christides, B. The Conquest of Crete by Arabs (ca. 824). A Turning Point in the Struggle Between Byzantium and Islam, Athens, 105.


Military Level:
3

levels. 3-1 [1]

[1]: Christides, B. The Conquest of Crete by Arabs (ca. 824). A Turning Point in the Struggle Between Byzantium and Islam, Athens, ...


Administrative Level:
5

level. Crete was divided into forty districts and it was ruled by an emir who only nominally recognized the Caliph of Baghdad. [1] These emirs were Abu Hafs descendants and issued their own coins. [2] The Arabs emirs of Crete were: Abu Hafs Umar I al-Iqritishi (827/828 - ca. 855CE); Shu’ayb I ibn Umar (ca. 855-880CE); Umar II ibn Shu’ayb Babdel (ca. 880-895CE); Muhammad ibn Shu’ayb al-Zarkun (ca. 895-910CE); Yusuf ibn Umar (ca. 910-915 CE) ;Ali ibn Yusuf (ca. 915-925CE); Ahmad ibn Umar (ca. 925-940 CE); Shu’ayb II ibn Ahmad (940-943 CE); Ali ibn Ahmad (943-949CE); and And al-Aziz ibn Shu’ayb (949-961 CE).

[1]: Christides, B. The Conquest of Crete by Arabs (ca. 824). A Turning Point in the Struggle Between Byzantium and Islam, Athens, 114-15.

[2]: Miller, G. C. 1970. The Coinage of the Arab Amirs of Crete, New York.


Professions
Professional Soldier:
present

Full-time specialists


Professional Priesthood:
present

Full-time specialists


Professional Military Officer:
present

Full-time specialists


Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
unknown


Full Time Bureaucrat:
present

Full-time specialists


Law

Himyari, an Arab author, mentions that Fath bn al-Ala was the chief judge of Crete while another author and jurist, Ibn al-Faradi, mention a famous jurist from Crete, Marwan bn. [1]

[1]: Christides, B. The Conquest of Crete by Arabs (ca. 824). A Turning Point in the Struggle Between Byzantium and Islam, Athens, 115.


Formal Legal Code:
present

Reference to arabic sources shows that the Islamic law was practice among the Muslims. On the other hand, although there is no direct evidence, we can assume that the Christians followed their own low in their private life according to the typical Muslim intolerance. [1]

[1]: Christides, B. The Conquest of Crete by Arabs (ca. 824). A Turning Point in the Struggle Between Byzantium and Islam, Athens, 115.



Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
present

There are no archaeological data. Markets thought existed both in Byzantine and Islamic world.


Irrigation System:
present

There are no archaeological data. Irrigation systems thought existed both in Byzantine and Islamic world.


Food Storage Site:
present

There are no archaeological data.There are no archaeological data. For storage complexes thought existed both in Byzantine and Islamic world.


Drinking Water Supply System:
present

There are no archaeological data. Drinking water supply systems existed both in Byzantine and Islamic world.


Transport Infrastructure

The most important port was that of Khandax (Heraklion). [1]

[1]: Tsombanaki, X. 1997. Θαλασσινή Τριλογία. Το Λιμάνι, τα Νεώρια, το Φρούριο, Heraklion.




Special-purpose Sites

Information / Writing System


Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
present

Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
present

Sacred Text:
present

E.g the Bible and the Koran.


Religious Literature:
present

Extensive Byzantine (e.g. John Damascenes) and Arabic religious literature. [1]

[1]: Haussig, H. W. 1971. History of Byzantine Civilization, London, 210-11. For Cretan religious text and writers of the period see Tsougarakis, D. 1987. "Βυζαντινή Κρήτη" in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 395-404.


Practical Literature:
present

E.g. agricultural and military manuals [1] [2]

[1]: For the Byzantines see Haussig, H. W. 1971. History of Byzantine Civilization, London, 176

[2]: Sullivan, D.F. 2010. "Byzantine military manuals. Perceptions, practice and pedagogy" in Stephenson, P. (ed.), The Byzantine World, London, 149-61.



Lists Tables and Classification:
present

E.g the so-called kataster, the central tax list covering all the cultivatable land. [1]

[1]: Haussig, H. W. 1971. History of Byzantine Civilization, London, 174.




Calendar:
present

The local population followed the Byzantine calendar which is based on the Julian calendar, except that the year started on 1 September and the year number used an Anno Mundi epoch derived from the Septuagint version of the Bible. [1] The Arab inviders followed the Islamic calendar the first year of which begins in 622 CE during which the emigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina occurred.

[1]: Bryer, A. 2008. "Chronology and Dating," in Jeffreys,E. Haldon,J., Cormack, R. (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies, Oxford, 31-37.


Information / Money



Indigenous Coin:
present

[1]

[1]: Miller, G. C. 1970. The Coinage of the Arab Amirs of Crete, New York.


Foreign Coin:
present

Coins issued by the Byzantine Empire. [1] [2]

[1]: Morrisson, C. 2002. "Byzantine money: its production and circulation" in Laiou, A. E. (ed.), The Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seven Thought the Fifteen Century, Washington, 909-966

[2]: Grierson, P. 1999. Byzantine Coinage, Washington.



Information / Postal System

General Postal Service:
absent


Information / Measurement System

Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Military use of Metals

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.



Projectiles
Tension Siege Engine:
present

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


Sling Siege Engine:
present

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.



Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


Composite Bow:
present

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.



Handheld weapons

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


Battle Axe:
present

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


Animals used in warfare

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.





Armor

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


Scaled Armor:
present

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.



Limb Protection:
present

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


Leather Cloth:
present

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


Laminar Armor:
present

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


Chainmail:
present

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


Breastplate:
present

[1] [2]

[1]: Κόλλιας, Τ., Τεχνολογία και Πόλεμος στο Βυζάντιο, 2005

[2]: Mc Geer, E., Sowing the Dragons Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century, Washington D.C., 1995.


Naval technology
Specialized Military Vessel:
present

Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
present

Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
unknown


Human Sacrifice Data
Human Sacrifice is the deliberate and ritualized killing of a person to please or placate supernatural entities (including gods, spirits, and ancestors) or gain other supernatural benefits.
- Nothing coded yet.
- Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions
- Nothing coded yet.