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Where did alphabet letters come from?

By | 2017-10-02T10:25:04+00:00 October 2nd, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

The first alphabet letters Each of the letters of the early Canaanite alphabet was the first sound of the most ordinary words in their language. The letter was a picture of that word's meaning. Often you can still recognize that picture in our letters today. And the order of their letters is mostly unchanged today, [...]

Ba’al – the Levant – West Asian gods

By | 2017-09-15T17:07:51+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Ba'al from Ugarit (Louvre Museum, Paris) All along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in what's now Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, and down into the Arabian Peninsula, there was (and still is) a feeling that it's wrong to say the name of your god aloud. Instead, people called their god "Lord". Baal is the Semitic word [...]

Who is Astarte? West Asian religion

By | 2017-09-15T16:40:05+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Astarte in the Late Bronze Age As early as about 3000 BC, Astarte was a Semitic goddess of love and fertility. People worshipped her in Mesopotamia and in the Levant. Like the Roman goddess Venus or the Greek goddess Aphrodite, Astarte started out as the goddess of the evening star. (And soon West Asian astronomers realized that the evening star [...]

West Asian people – families, schools, slavery

By | 2017-09-15T14:13:10+00:00 September 15th, 2017|People, West Asia|

Ur-Nanshe, the king's chief musician in Mari, 2400s BC What we notice most about the way people lived in West Asia is the widespread oppression of women. As compared to their neighbors in Sudan, Egypt, Central Asia, the Roman Empire, or even India, West Asian women were much less likely to become rulers. [...]

Third Dynasty of Ur – Mesopotamia – West Asian history

By | 2017-09-14T18:43:14+00:00 September 14th, 2017|History, West Asia|

Standard of Ur This is the Middle Bronze Age in West Asia, about 2100 BC to 1700 BC. It corresponds roughly to the First Intermediate Period in Egypt, and just as in Egypt this was a time when West Asia was broken up into a lot of little kingdoms instead of being one big empire. In Greece, [...]

From Xerxes to Alexander – the later Persian Empire

By | 2017-09-14T17:18:32+00:00 September 14th, 2017|History, West Asia|

The Persian shah, Xerxes, from the 400s BC. King Xerxes was killed in 465 BC. His assassin may have been his son Ardashir I (Artaxerxes in Greek), who succeeded him. Ardashir was a weak king, and a lot of the conquered countries revolted while Ardashir was king. By this time, the rest of West Asia [...]

Who were the Persians? Iran – West Asian history

By | 2017-11-01T22:57:18+00:00 September 14th, 2017|History, West Asia, Where|

Central Asian steppe Around 1200 BC, some Indo-European people from Central Asia moved south into West Asia. These people were the Persians and the Medes. The Persians and the Medes were distantly related to the Scythians, the Hittites, the Greeks and the Romans, and they spoke a related language. Like the Scythians, the Medes and the Persians were nomadic people. They travelled around Central Asia [...]

The Jews and the Levant – West Asian history

By | 2017-09-14T15:16:46+00:00 September 14th, 2017|History, West Asia|

Tel Kabri, a Canaanite palace ca. 1600 BC By the end of the Stone Age, the people who would eventually become known as the Hebrews, and then the Jews, were mostly settled down in villages, farming, though some of them may have been nomadic shepherds like Abraham and Isaac in the Bible. During the Bronze Age, the people living in Israel, [...]

Ottoman science – astronomy and clocks

By | 2017-10-01T17:56:36+00:00 September 11th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Taqi al-Din in his observatory Ottoman scholars built many libraries in Istanbul and in other cities of the Ottoman Empire. They translated many earlier books into Turkish or Arabic, like the works of the Roman astronomer Ptolemy. Ottoman scholars also continued to make their own new investigations. The mathematician Ali Qushji, for instance, came [...]

What is a theologian? History of religion

By | 2017-08-25T12:46:33+00:00 August 25th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Pope Gregory the Great writing, from the 900s AD. Ivory, probably from Kenya. (Now in Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum) A theologian (thee-oh-LOW-gin) is a person who studies religion. The word comes from the Greek word for god "theos" and the Greek word for writing "logos". So a theologian is someone who writes about God. Usually when people say [...]