War

A 10th-century Description

This snippet is by Masʿudi, who wrote a history and geography in Arabic in the 10th century. He had just explained that the rulers of the Caucasus would have overrun Iran if not for the building of the fortress at Darband.

This is especially true now that Islam has weakened and declined. The Byzantines are making inroads against the Muslims, the Pilgrimage is in peril, Holy War has ceased, communications have been interrupted and roads are insecure. Every local military chief has taken power in his region and made himself independent, just as the ‘party kings, did after the death of Alexander the Great, until Ardashir b. Babak, the Sasanian, re-established political unity and put an end to endemic warfare, restoring security to the people and cultivation to the land. This lasted until Muhammad, May Prayers and Peace be Upon Him, received his mission from God and effaced the vestiges of unbelief and the traces of other doctrines. Islam has always been triumphant, until this year 332/943, when under the caliphate of the Commander of the Faithful Muttaqi [r. 940-44], its supports are shaking and its foundations crumbling. We seek help from God for the state we find ourselves in.

Source, p. 28-9.

A 10th- or 11th-century Depiction

This embroidered fabric shows a Byzantine emperor acknowledged by the Bulgarians. It may represent Basil’s defeat of the Bulgarians in 1017 or the triumph of John I Tzimiskes against the Rus in Bulgaria in 971. The fact that it is interchangeable might be the point. It was found in a cathedral in Germany, brought back from pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the 11th century.

An 11th-century Depiction

This image is in the psalter of Basil II. It includes a poem to describe the scene below.

Source, p. 173.