The Ebb and Flow of the Ghurid Empire
The Ebb and Flow of the Ghurid Empire
David C. Thomas
Sydney University Press in association with the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation
ISBN: 9781743325414

The iconic minaret of Jām stands in a remote mountain valley in central Afghanistan, the finest surviving monument of the enigmatic 12th-century Ghūrid dynasty. The rediscovery of the minaret half a century ago prompted renewed interest in the Ghūrids, and this has intensified since their summer capital at Jām became Afghanistan's first World Heritage Site in 2002.

Two seasons of archaeological fieldwork at Jām, the detailed analysis of satellite images, and the innovative use of Google Earth as a cultural heritage management tool have resulted in a wealth of new information about known Ghūrid sites, and the identification of hundreds of previously undocumented archaeological sites across Afghanistan.

Drawing inspiration from the Annales school and the concept of an ‘archipelagic landscape’, David Thomas uses these data to re-assess the Ghūrids, giving us a more nuanced understanding of this significant Early Islamic polity.


Appendices and front matter are available here

About the author

Dr David C. Thomas is an honorary associate in archaeology at La Trobe University.

Table of contents


  1. The nomadic empire of the Ghūrids
  2. The Ghūrid landscapes
  3. The rise, expansion and demise of the Ghūrids under the Shansabānīd dynasty
  4. The archaeological remains of the Ghūrids
  5. Exploring Jām
  6. Re-defining Jām: an archaeological eye in the sky
  7. The Ghūrids - an unsustainable Early Islamic polity