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The Middle East Caption December 24, 2008

Posted by anagasto in Bible, history.
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This is not a history,  nor a travel guide, but a reminder of what most people would more or less know or surmise about the Middle East

Middle-East-Political-Map-1995 CIA CIA 1995 public domain.

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midle east map

In public domain as part of http://www.islamicbulletin.org/spanish/ebooks/Kids/historias_coran.pdf

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Definition of MiddleEast

This Wikipedia map shows the different meanings of “Middle East”: a traditional or ancient meaning, a definition made by the G8, and a de facto meaning widely used.

The term was probably launched by the British Foreign Office, where China or Japan were “the Far East”.

Below is a map showing what was originally included:

map of ancient middle east

This work has been released into the public domain worldwide by its author, Dbachmann, at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ancient_Orient.png. There is a 10 mega version, also free, where the names of the towns can be read.
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map of middle east languages

The languages of the Middle East

This is a thumbnail of a large and very detailed map at http://www.essex.ac.uk/larg/resources/case-law.aspx. As you can see even on this small version, mapping the languages of that region is complicated.

On most other maps it looks like Arabic is the only language all over and deep into Africa.

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Tigris and Euphrates

The two great rivers, Tigris and  Euphrates, define the region called The Fertile Crescent.
This map is from “Who you call a skeptic” at http://whoyoucallingaskeptic.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/planet-x/

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map of fertile crescent

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Crescent means the same as croissant=growing  and is a curved shape like that of the new moon

new moon as a crescent

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Iraq  has had many different names, and even Churchill thought that it was at times confusing.

Besides Fertile Crescent, it is also known as the cradle of civilization and as Mesopotamia meaning the Land between the rivers.

It is where Abraham came from. Now its capital is Baghdad.

map of Abraham's journey from Ur

To enlarge this drawing, see http://www.austingrad.edu/images/Resources/Shipp/Maps/Abraham%27s%20Journey.jpg

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The people of Mesopotamia probably invented writing  and the wheel some 6000 years ago, and they  were going to build the world’s first skyscraper:

tower of babel by bruegel

Brueghel’s famous Tower of Babel. Notice the stone masons kneeling or even praying to the visiting king. Those were hard times.

There are several versions by Brueghel (as there is also more than one Brueghel and they are not easy to keep apart.) But other great painters did the same theme. Here is Lucas van Valckenborch:

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tower of Babel by Valckenborch

Valckenborch’s tower is in public domain at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/Tour_de_babel.jpeg.

and from Meister der Weltchronik, the Masters of World News, you will find this at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_Babel:

Tower of Babel miniature painting

See on the right in the air the stone being lifted? Even in  Roman aqueducts you’d still see the holes made to lift the stones with this device:

stone lifting device

 

The modern capital Baghdad on the Tigris

baghdad on the Tigris

Haifa Street and the Tigris photographed from the central hospital by Zzztriple2000 and released into public domain at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Haifa_street,_as_seen_from_the_medical_city_hospital_across_the_tigres.jpg

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the Pyramids

Egypt : the Pyramids : each the tomb of a ruler and certainly the world’s most famous buildings. And how many theories about how they were built?

On the enlarged photo  you can see the true size of the blocks if you compare them to the horses standing in their shade. — According to Wikipedia, the stones are called ashlar blocks; that strange word comes from Old French aisselier, from axilla, diminutive of axis.

base blocks of pyramid

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:All_Gizah_Pyramids.jpg : The photo by Ricardo Liberato is under CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. There is also a 5 mega version at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/af/All_Gizah_Pyramids.jpg

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map of nile-river

Egypt : the Nile.

Western history’s most famous river flooded every year and so fertilized their land 5000 years ago.

Egypt camels on the Nile

It taught them geometry, the science needed to build those pyramids, because after each flood they had to restore their land holdings.

The photo is from  http://www.historianinresidence.com/Christmas%20card%202008/Egypt.html. It is a blog published by a family traveling in the MIddle East.
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iteru hieroglyphs Nile

This is the name of the river as it would have been written in Pharaoh’s time: Iteru.

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blue mosque istanbul

Sultan Ahmed mosque photographed and released into public domain by Robert.raderschatt
at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blaue_moschee_6minarette.jpg/

Mosques everywhere. The Blue Mosque of Sultan Ahmed is in Turkey.

From those high slender towers the people are called to pray. Their religion, Islam, is based on a book called the Koran, and they know large parts of it by heart and decorate even their living room walls with its verses.

Islam is a relatively young religion. It spread strongly in its beginning:

Islam expansion

Mecca is its center:

Kaaba at Mecca

This photo from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kaaba_mirror_edit_jj.jpgs by Muhammad Mahdi Karim is under the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 only.

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Location Iran

Iran : it is Persia. This is where Scheherazade was from. Its civilization dates back to 4000 bC.

The king had been deceived by his wife, and he was going to take revenge on all women everywhere, get a new one every evening and kill her in the morning. Sheherazade volunteered to be the next in line. She told the king a story and promised to tell him another one the next night, and then another. This is how she kept herself alive for 1001 nights until he married her.

Si-o-se Pol bridge in Iran
The Si-o-se Pol bridge under CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sio_se_pol.jpg

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There is a famous little piece of parlour music called “In a Persian Market”, a small MIDI file, about 29 kb, to portray the fairy tale charm of those regions and to imitate their music.

In a Persian Market MIDI

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Israel-temple_mount  Photo credit: Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Jerusalem : the Temple Mount. Its history of about 3,000 years is rooted in Judaism and extended later into Christianity and Islam.

Below is  Jerusalem seen from the Mount of Olives.

Jerusalem seen from Mount Olives

There is a 9 Mega original  at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fe/Panor%C3%A1mica_de_Jerusal%C3%A9n_desde_el_Monte_de_los_Olivos.jpg

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 sea of galilea
Originally uploaded by Cornischong at Luxembourgish Wikipediaer under CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:S%C3%A9i-Genesareth-pano–w.jpg

Israel  is the origin of three world religions.

The sea of Galilee is famous from the Bible for its fishermen, the first missionaries of Christianity.

 fishermen on the sea of galilea

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barges towing wheat22

Barges towing wheat — Photo from a blog at http://www.israeldailypicture.com/ based on a US Library of Congress picture collection at  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/93513677/.

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The Mosque in Mazar-e Sharif is the tomb of one of the Prophet’s cousins. It is in Afghanistan.

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The stories of Nasreddin came from the same region as those of 1001 Nights and later traveled east to India and China and finally all over the world.

Nasreddin on his donkey

http://www.readliterature.com/hodjastories.htm

– Nasreddin, we need a donkey for a few hours. Could I take yours?
– I would gladly lend you my donkey, said Nasreddin, but he is not here.
Just at that moment the donkey brayed in his shed.
– Shame on you, Nasreddin, said the neighbour, you are caught in a lie, your donkey is braying in his shed.
– It is you who ought to feel ashamed, answered  Nasreddin. Do you believe a donkey rather than your neighbour?

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portrait of a camel

And there are camels and dromedaries who are sometimes called the ships of the desert, because in many places the deserts look like the sea.

camels transporting wheat to port22

Camels transporting wheat to Jerusalem — Photo from a blog at http://www.israeldailypicture.com/ based on a US Library of Congress picture collection at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/93513677/.

There is something mysterious about the nature of camels, something humble and haughty at the same time in their faces.  There are also two by Klee:

klee-dromedaries

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 desert  with a flower

This is a desert, and there are flowers, and barely visible in the distance there are snow capped mountains, because deserts are not all alike and do not all have the same origin. —

However, this desert is in fact in the United States. In the Middle East some deserts are just as beautiful, but this was the most eloquent photo.

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Added 2013

small Parosheet Galonit

A  wildflower from  http://israeltours.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/paroshit.jpg  where there are many more desert flowers. There is also see a close-up of the locust that Moses called down as a plague on Egypt when the Pharaoh went back on his promise to let Israel’s people go.

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Camels in the desert

a camel's toe

This is what the camel’s feet look like to help him walk on the sand of the desert. But the Arabs are also famous for their horses.

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market in Cairo

The market in Cairo. There are great photos of Cairo at http://tinyurl.com/nrdcup and there was a photo of downtown Cairo  at Wikipedia:

Downtown cairo

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cairo by Seyerce

The streets of Cairo from a useful blog at http://thecityfix.com/2007/11/

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middle east house

This is what their houses look like. Since it does not rain much, instead of a roof you have a terrace where you sit and talk in the evening.

From a roof like this King David would have watched Bathsheba. It is an architect’s model.

west africa village

Another model of a house, 7 000 years old they say:

ancient midddle east building model

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Middle East carpet

Their carpets, sometimes seen flying with important people on board….

and their olive  trees :

distant olive grove

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olive tree israel

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>>>>> Over to Where is the land of Uz?

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Comments»

1. goldilocks - December 24, 2009

Could you get me the referrence of the three Kings and the Angel that is calling them? That would be very kind, because I have to prepare something for a Christmas party.

2. Anonymous - January 9, 2010

thanks that will give a good model for gr.7 mesopotamia

3. cantueso - January 9, 2010

What is gr.7 ?
??
…..
I googled and see it is Grade 7 = kids about 12 or 13.

That’s about right. Some of the older kids and all the very old ones need a more “factual” presentation.

4. anne - January 10, 2010

thanks for the pic.s!

5. neeMcM - November 6, 2010

This is a good summary, but a little more history would be appreciated.

6. retroactively - November 6, 2010

The camel is ok, but your idea of a desert is odd.There are better pictures of the desert even in Wikipedia.

7. pendrive - January 16, 2012

There is too much about camels here and not enough about people.

8. cantueso - January 16, 2012

To “pendrive”:

Well yes, this is because camels are somewhat less touchy.

9. ronaldo sandert - May 9, 2013

To “cantueso”:
The real reason is that you do not expect camels to read this blog.


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