History

Muslim Perspectives on European Connections: A Conversation with Historian Ian Coller

Muslim Perspectives on European Connections: A Conversation with Historian Ian Coller

It wasn’t until he found himself thousands of kilometers from his native Australia in September 2001 that Coller, a UCLA-Irvine professor of history, began to realize that his seemingly disparate early interests in French culture, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, his longing to understand the Middle East and his determination to speak Arabic were all parts of his innate fascination with people. 

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Ingenuity And Innovations 1 - Kohl Eyeliner: More Than Meets the Eye

Ingenuity And Innovations 1 - Kohl Eyeliner: More Than Meets the Eye

The black eyeliner known widely today as kohl was used much by both men and women in Egypt from around 2000 BCE—and not just for beauty or to invoke the the god Horus. It turns out kohl was also good for the health of the eyes, and the cosmetic’s manufacture relied on the world’s first known example of “wet chemistry”—the use of water to induce chemical reactions.
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Mancala, the Game of Seeds

Mancala, the Game of Seeds

One of the world's oldest games, mancala needs only two players, some seeds or beads and shallow pits in the earth. Over more than a millennium and under different names, mancala spread out from East Africa, and now there are almost as many variations as there are cultures that enjoy it.
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Quartering Jerusalem

Quartering Jerusalem

Nearly all modern maps of Jerusalem’s Old City show it divided into four quarters labeled Christian, Muslim, Armenian and Jewish. But the idea that gave rise to these labels dates back only to the mid-19th century and surveys of the city by colonial mapmakers—and specifically to the pen of a young British chaplain.

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On the Origins of Gothic Architecture: A Conversation with Diana Darke

On the Origins of Gothic Architecture: A Conversation with Diana Darke

With its rose windows and soaring, pointed arches, Gothic architecture is a crowning achievement of medieval Western Christendom but not, writes Oxford-educated Arabist Diana Darke, an independently developed one. 
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Was Enheduanna the World’s First Author?

Was Enheduanna the World’s First Author?

Four thousand years ago she was a princess and high priestess in the Sumerian city of Ur in modern-day Iraq. She was also a poet whose verses scribes wrote down in cuneiform on clay tablets and then did something new: They attributed the work to her by name—and now Enheduanna is more famous than ever.

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Milestones to Makkah and Madinah

Milestones to Makkah and Madinah

In 622 CE the Prophet Muhammad and his first followers rode some 450 kilometers from Makkah to Madinah along a segment of the caravan route that had long linked the Arabian Peninsula to North Africa and the Levant. In 2005 the discovery of an isolated monolith led to a 15-year archeological quest that has identified 55 similar and regularly spaced stones that appear to predate the ninth century CE. The discoveries are now helping locate with precision historic sites, thanks to the measure of distance between the milestones: 1,609 meters, give or take a few. Whether intact or broken; standing, fallen or partially buried, each stone is now being studied, and together they tell stories of history, faith and science.
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Five Centuries of Jerusalem Soup

Five Centuries of Jerusalem Soup

Nearly 470 years ago, the wife of the Ottoman sultan founded this soup kitchen as an endowed religious charity. Ever since, its cooks have arrived before dawn to begin simmering soup to ladle out later to all who come looking for a warm lunch.
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The New York of Anthony Jansen van Salee

The New York of Anthony Jansen van Salee

His 19th- and 20th-century descendants became some of New York’s most glittering glitterati, but when this son of a pirate arrived in the fledgling colonial outpost of New Amsterdam in 1629 and became the first Muslim to own property in the future U.S., conflicts with Dutch authorities nearly undid his ambitions.
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