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West Asian religion – Ottoman and Safavid, Sunni and Shiite

By |2018-04-25T23:21:42+00:00September 11th, 2017|Islam, Religion, West Asia|

Shah Mosque, Ishfahan, Iran (1611-38) West Asia was divided into two big empires in the 1500s AD - the Ottoman Empire and the Safavid Empire. Both the Ottomans and the Safavids followed Islam, but they followed two different kinds of Islam. The rulers and most of the people of the Ottoman Empire followed Sunni Islam, but in the Safavid Empire most people followed Shiite Islam. [...]

Where do Easter eggs come from? History of religion

By |2018-04-09T23:07:27+00:00August 21st, 2017|Religion|

Ostrich eggshell from Diepkloof Rock Shelter, South Africa (60,000 BC) Easter eggs go back long before Easter, and even long before the beginning of farming. As long ago as the Paleolithic, about 60,000 BC, people in Africa were scratching patterns and lines on ostrich eggs, though nobody knows what they had in mind. By the later Stone Age, [...]

Medieval School – Europe

By |2018-04-11T09:19:36+00:00August 4th, 2017|Medieval, People|

Clerks in the Manessa Codex (1300 AD) In medieval Europe, even fewer kids went to school than in the Roman Empire. People were poorer, and kids had to work in the fields weeding and harvesting and taking care of pigs and chickens. Most people never learned to read or write. Richer people often home-schooled their children, especially girls and children [...]

Pisa – the Duomo – medieval Italy

By |2017-07-31T09:36:31+00:00July 31st, 2017|Architecture, Medieval|

Cathedral of Pisa (the Duomo) This is the cathedral of medieval Pisa, in Italy. The architects built the cathedral in the Romanesque style around 1064 AD. The rounded arches are typical of the Romanesque style. So is the floor plan of the building, with many little bits sticking out all over. Façade of Pisa's Duomo The outside of the [...]

Hagia Sophia – Istanbul

By |2017-07-30T22:50:32+00:00July 30th, 2017|Architecture, Medieval|

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (500s AD) The Roman emperor Constantius II built a big church next to the imperial palace in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the 300s AD. But people burned it down in riots in 404. Pulcheria soon had the church rebuilt. But rioters burned it down again during the Nike Riots of 532. So the emperor Justinian needed to rebuild [...]

Aachen – Palatine Chapel – Charlemagne

By |2017-07-29T18:08:15+00:00July 29th, 2017|Architecture, Medieval|

Aachen cathedral (begun 792 AD) One of the first ambitious buildings in Western Europe after the fall of Rome was Charlemagne's chapel at his capital of Aachen (now in northern Germany) about 792 AD. Charlemagne thought of himself as re-creating the Roman Empire. He wanted to build an impressive church that would show that he was a very [...]

Ibn Rushd – Medieval Islamic Science

By |2018-04-09T23:07:34+00:00July 27th, 2017|Islam, Philosophy, Science|

Cordoba mosque Since the time of Socrates, many people have tried to figure out how science and religion can both be true at the same time. Ibn Rushd, like the earlier ibn Sina and al-Ghazali, was part of an important movement to try to combine Aristotle's scientific description of the world with religious views to create a unified [...]

Kairouan’s Great Mosque – Islamic architecture

By |2017-07-23T07:50:40+00:00July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Architecture, Islam, Religion|

Kairouan mosque's courtyard The Islamic governors of Tunisia built the Great Mosque at Kairouan in the 800s AD, in the time of the Abbasid Empire. This was the same time as the reign of Charlemagne. But the mosque at Kairouan was much grander than anything being built in Europe at this time. It was more on the same [...]

Delhi Sultanate mosques – Indian architecture

By |2017-07-19T16:34:55+00:00July 19th, 2017|Architecture, India|

Quwat ul-Islam, Delhi, 1196 AD Beginning about 1100 AD, invaders from the Abbasid Empire conquered most of northern India. These invaders were Muslims, and they needed mosques to pray in. So they got Indian builders to build them a lot of new mosques - big ones, to show how powerful and rich the new conquerors were. They built the earliest [...]

Chang’an – T’ang Dynasty Chinese Architecture

By |2018-04-18T09:53:23+00:00June 4th, 2017|Architecture, China|

The walls of Chang'an under the T'ang Dynasty (ca. 700 AD) People have been living in the city of Chang'an in China since the Stone Age. But Chang'an reached its biggest size - about a million people - under the T'ang Dynasty, when the powerful T'ang emperors made Chang'an their new capital city. [...]