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Life in ancient Africa – gender and class history

By |2018-04-13T01:37:34+00:00October 2nd, 2017|Africa, People|

African daily life: Mary and Jesus, from Ethiopia (ca. 1500 AD) (Now in the J. Paul Getty Museum) Inequality in African society Ancient African society didn't have the huge differences between rich and poor people that plagued Europe and Asia. North Africa, being part of the Mediterranean community, was an exception. But south of the Sahara [...]

Science and the gods – History of Science

By |2017-09-06T12:54:33+00:00September 6th, 2017|History|

The Egyptian god Bes Gods are part of people's desire to know how the world works. It's one of the ways that people explain how the world works. People say that God or the gods make this happen. Or you could say that the gods are a way of talking about complicated things that happen. Maybe they're [...]

Bible verses – Christianity – Religion

By |2017-08-23T11:17:37+00:00August 23rd, 2017|Religion|

Gutenberg Bible When people want to tell you where to find certain words in the Christian Bible, they write something like Matthew 10:25, or Exodus 12:1. This means look in the book of Matthew, at the tenth chapter, and find the 25th verse of the tenth chapter. Or look in the book of Exodus, at the [...]

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) – Medieval Islamic medicine – Islamic Empire

By |2018-04-24T08:21:22+00:00July 27th, 2017|Islam, Science|

Where Ibn Sina came from: Uzbekistan Ibn Sina and the Samanids in Uzbekistan Ibn Sina (known to Europeans as Avicenna) was a scientist. He was born about 980 AD in the north-eastern part of the Abbasid Empire. That was in the kingdom of the Samanids. (It's modern Uzbekistan.) The Samanids supported science and art, so many scientists and artists [...]

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 [...]

What is the Quran? – Islamic religion

By |2018-06-29T10:15:40+00:00July 26th, 2017|Islam, Religion|

What is the Quran? A page from a Quran of the Umayyad period (600s AD), now in Birmingham, England What is the Quran? The Quran is the holy book of the religion of Islam, as the Bible is for Christians and the Torah is for Jews. The Quran was written in Arabic, a little bit after the [...]

History of Islam – Religion

By |2018-04-09T23:10:26+00:00July 26th, 2017|Islam, Religion|

Tomb of Ali, the first Imam and the fourth caliph, in Iraq (it was rebuilt about 1500 AD by the Safavids) Medieval Islam was closely related to Judaism and Christianity. Like Jews and Christians, Muslims believed that there was only one God. They called this God 'Allah'. Muslims believed that Moses and Jesus had both existed. They believed that Moses [...]

Medieval Islamic women

By |2017-07-26T23:13:36+00:00July 26th, 2017|Islam, People|

Mohammed with his daughter Fatima (she's in the front) Mohammed loved and admired the women in his life. He tried to give women more rights than they had before in Arabia, or under Roman and Sassanian law. The Quran tried to make rules that would help women. In general women had more rights under Islam than they had had before. [...]

Maktab – Medieval Islamic schools

By |2018-04-23T15:30:39+00:00July 26th, 2017|Islam, People|

Boys in Mauretania learning Quran verses from wooden tablets In the Islamic empire and in Africa, as in West Asia before Islam, most kids never went to school. Both girls and boys usually worked in the fields, plowing or weeding. But some boys, especially from richer families, went to a maktab (Arabic for "grade school"). Most towns had a small maktab [...]