Although individual Turkish generals had already
gained considerable, and at times decisive,
power in Mesopotamia and Egypt during the
tenth and eleventh centuries, the coming of the
Seljuks signaled the first large-scale penetration
of the Turkish elements into the Middle East.
Descended from a tribal chief named Seljuk,
whose homeland lay beyond the Oxus River near
the Aral Sea, the Seljuks not only developed a
highly effective fighting force but also, through
their close contacts with Persian court life in
Khorasan and Transoxania, attracted a body of
able administrators. Extending from Central Asia
to the Byzantine marches in Asia Minor, the
Seljuks established a highly cohesive, well-
administered state under the nominal authority
of the Abbasid caliphs at Baghdad.
The Seljuqs (also Seldjuk, Seldjuq, Seljuk,
sometimes also Seljuq Turks; in Turkish
Selçuklular; in Persian: ???????? ?aljuqiyan; in
Arabic ????? Saljuq, or ???????? al-Salajiqa)
Sunni Muslim dynasty that ruled parts of Central
Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to 14th
centuries. They set up an empire known as "Great
Seljuk Empire" that stretched from Anatolia to
Punjab and was the target of the First Crusade.
The dynasty had its origins in the Turcoman
tribal confederations of Central Asia and marked
the beginning of Turkic power in the Middle East.
Today they are regarded as the cultural
ancestors of the Western Turks, the present-day
inhabitants of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and
Turkmenistan, and they are remembered as great
patrons of Persian culture, art, literature.