Islamic Empire

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Medieval stained glass, eyeglasses, and modern glass

By | 2017-09-05T15:25:18+00:00 September 5th, 2017|Medieval, Modern, Science|

Islamic glass (probably Iraq, 800s AD, now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York) By the 1100s, glass-making was expanding again from West Asia; there were glassworks further east at Kuva in Central Asia (modern Uzbekistan). Glass-making also moved westward: by 1000 AD, Venice was a growing center of glass manufacturing. In northern Europe, glassmakers figured out how to make glass [...]

Roman pottery – Ancient Rome

By | 2017-08-31T11:26:28+00:00 August 31st, 2017|Art, Romans|

Campanian pottery from southern Italy Roman pottery began with Etruscan-style pottery, but soon developed a tradition of its own. In general, potters in Italy tended to make their pots all one color. They didn't paint pictures on them the way potters did in Greece. Instead of painting pictures, Roman potters used molds to create decorations by shaping the clay. [...]

Jews in the Islamic Empire

By | 2017-08-23T15:20:54+00:00 August 23rd, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

The synagogue where Maimonides worked in Cairo, Egypt (1100s AD) The Arabs first began to attack the Roman Empire in the 630s AD. At first, the Jews were quite enthusiastic about the idea of getting rid of their Christian persecutors. We don't really know whether the Jews actually helped the Arabs to conquer Israel and Syria. But many Roman [...]

Supernova – Space – Astronomy

By | 2017-08-19T09:23:22+00:00 August 19th, 2017|Physics|

Supernova from space (thanks to NASA and the Hubble Telescope) Supernovas are exploding stars. Red giant stars explode when they have used up their hydrogen and helium fuel, and converted most of their atoms to iron atoms. Red giant stars have a lot of gravity pulling them inward. Normally they don't collapse inward because the nuclear fusion going on inside them pushes energy outward. That [...]

What is centrifugal force? Physics definitions

By | 2017-08-16T18:34:11+00:00 August 16th, 2017|Islam, Physics|

Kids playing tetherball using centrifugal force When something is going straight, it always keeps going straight unless something else stops it or turns it. (The Iranian scientist Ibn Sina figured this out about 1000 AD). If it can't go straight, then it goes as straight as it can. So when you hit a tetherball, it [...]

The Reconquista – Medieval Spain

By | 2017-08-03T09:03:39+00:00 August 3rd, 2017|History, Medieval|

Roland blows his horn for help and tries to break his sword on a rock (Chartres Cathedral) As soon as the Moors had conquered Spain in 711 AD, the descendants of the Visigoths and the Romans joined forces to try to get the Moors out of Spain again. These Spanish people gradually conquered more and more of Spain, beginning [...]

Medieval Islamic food

By | 2017-07-23T17:01:31+00:00 July 23rd, 2017|Food, Islam|

Orange tree Around the Mediterranean, people continued in the Islamic period to rely on the three main foods from antiquity. Those were wheat (mostly bread), olive oil, and wine. Though technically Islam did not let you drink alcohol, still a lot of people did drink wine. People who didn't drink wine started to drink more tea. The Sogdians brought tea to the Islamic [...]

Medieval Islamic environment

By | 2017-07-23T16:51:23+00:00 July 23rd, 2017|Environment, Islam, West Asia|

Bedouin tents today in the Arabian peninsula We can divide the environmental history of the medieval Islamic Empire into three different phases. The early phase, from the 600s to about 800 AD, is the time of the Umayyad and the Abbasid Caliphs. The climate was probably pretty similar to what it had been [...]

Sugar and the Islamic Empire

By | 2017-06-23T01:09:05+00:00 June 23rd, 2017|Food, Islam|

Sugar also has a lot of carbohydrates When the Abbasid army conquered northern India about 750 AD, the troops brought back sugar cane to the rest of the Islamic empire. Maybe the climate changes of the Medieval Warm Period encouraged West Asians to try this new crop. Sugar soon reached North Africa and [...]