Abu Sa'id 'Abd al-Hayy Gardizi was a Persian author and historian living in the mid-eleventh century at the height of the Turkish Ghazvanid dynasty. His only known work, The Ornament of Histories ('Zayn al-akhbar'), is a hugely ambitious history of the Eastern Islamic lands 650-1041 AD, spanning what is now Eastern Iran, Afghanistan and parts of the Central Asian Republics and Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. Gardizi's text is an extremely rare source of primary information about the rise of Islamic faith, culture and military dominance in these regions, and represents a significant contribution to our understanding of the early Islamic world. Covering the four centuries from the first Arab conquests to his own time, Gardizi's work is a prime source, for some episodes the sole one, for the history of these lands at this time. Thus it is the sole source for events at the end of Sultan Mas'ud's reign, when the Sultan was killed in an army coup, having just lost the whole of the empire's Persian provinces to the incoming Seljuq Turks, and it was the Seljuqs who were now to dominate the central and eastern Islamic lands for a century and a half, almost till the invasion of the Mongols. Writing on the far-eastern fringes of what was then the Eastern Islamic world, in what is now Afghanistan, Gardizi also included important ethnological information on the Turkish tribes of Inner Eurasia and on the religions and philosophies of the Indians. But his prime interest was clearly the Islamic history of his own lands, the eastern Iranian world and its Central Asian and Indian fringes, and here he provides a detailed narrative. This book provides the first translation into a Western language of this history of the formative period of the Eastern Islamic world and gives an explanatory commentary, detailing the historical, geographical and cultural context, and well as the events and colourful characters mentioned in it.
Ornament of Histories, The: A History of the Eastern Islamic Lands AD 650-1041
The Persian Text of Abu Sa'id 'Abd Al-Hayy Gardizi