1st Edition

An Archaeology of Persecuted Peoples Religion and Hate in the Mountains of Asia

By Sandra Scham Copyright 2025
    312 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the archaeological evidence for the ancient cultures of the Zagros, Tienshan, Arakan, Hazārajāt, and Gerizim mountains.

    Through the central questions, what are the most ancient roots of these cultures and why have they persisted in the same locations for so many generations, the book uses material culture to ask why lowland civilizations often have deep-seated prejudices against mountain peoples. The role of religious beliefs and practices is crucial to their story of isolation, tenacity, and resistance in the mountains of Asia and historical and modern approaches are used to analyze the place of religion in highland cultures and discuss the mixture of elements, religious, ethnic and geographical, that characterize the historical trajectories of Asia’s disenfranchised mountain minorities. Chapters in the heart of the book explore the archaeology and culture of the Rohingyas, Uyghurs, Hazaras, Kurds, Yazidis, Armenians and Samaritans and the ways they have differed both in the past and today and what that has meant for their way of life.

    With millions of people still living in mountains today, this book is for archaeologists and anthropologists who are interested both in the distinctive and resilient past of these people but also what that may mean for their future.


    I. Introduction: Mountains, Violence and Axial Religions; 1. In the Lion’s Land; 2. Mountain Cultures; 3. Mountain Conflicts; 4. Mountain Transformations; II.  Embattled Highland Minorities; 5. Monsters of Arakan; 6. The Dragon and the Wolf; 7. Heirs of the Great Khan; 8. Devil Worshippers of Sinjar; 9. The View from Ararat; 10. The Last Israelites; III. Conclusion; 11. Faith, Hate and the State; 12. Turmoil in the Mountains of the Lord


    Sandra Scham is an anthropologist and archaeologist. She is currently an Instructor in the Graduate Program of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland. She has worked on projects for USAID and the Department of state since 2008 in Asia and the Middle East. She has published over one hundred articles and has co-edited two books. Her previous published books for Taylor and Francis are Extremism: Ancient and Modern and Inside Affirmative Action.