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Showing posts from June, 2012

Book Review: Jerusalem: The Biography

I've always been a keen admirer of Jerusalem and after reading the book's blurb (see below), I knew this was one of the best books around. It did not disappoint.
"Jerusalem is the universal city, the capital of two peoples, the shrine of three faiths; it is the prize of empires, the site of Judgement Day and the battlefield of today’s clash of civilizations. From King David to Barack Obama, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict, this is the epic history of three thousand years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism and coexistence.

How did this small, remote town become the Holy City, the “center of the world” and now the key to peace in the Middle East? In a gripping narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals this ever-changing city in its many incarnations, bringing every epoch and character blazingly to life. Jerusalem’s biography is told through the wars, love affairs and revelations of the men and women—kings, empress…

The 'Golden Artists' of Lebanon

Lebanon has always been called the cultural capital of the Arab World, the go-to destination for most tourists in the region. So, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Lebanon has produced some of the most gifted artists in the region. In this post, I'll bring up the works of 8 Lebanese artists, renown as being the 'Golden Artists' of Lebanon, so let's get started!

Habib Srour (1860-1938):

Habib Srour , while in Rome as a child,studied at the Institute of Fine Arts and in 1890, he returned to Beirut after a long stay in Egypt. He taught art at the Imperial Ottoman School of Bashoura and had his own studio.
Saliba Douaihy (1910-1994):

The Lebanese government took an interest in him (because of his artistic talent) and sent him to Paris in 1932, where he completed his training and developed his contacts with the new European schools. In 1936, as a graduate from the National School of Fine Arts, he left for Rome. (You can read the biography here)

 Later …

Ottoman Greece, Independence and the World Wars

By the start of the 1500s, much of mainland Greece and its islands were under Ottoman control, with the notable exceptions of Cyprus and Crete which were under the control of Venice (these two islands would later be conquered in 1571 and 1670 respectively). While most Greeks residing in Constantinople (the Ottoman capital) enjoyed a prosperous living, the majority of Greeks in mainland Greece were poor. This was a result of heavy taxation and an inefficient serfdom system.

In Constantinople, the Sultan recognized the Greek Orthodox Church to be the sole representative of Christians in the empire, Orthodox or not (this is evident when the Greeks were given preference over other sects in the custodianship of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, as highlighted in an old post). Despite the Ottomans having a policy of no forced-conversions, many Christians and others converted for tax benefits.

Greeks generally had a negative feeling towards their Ottoman occupiers, participating in most war…

An Introduction to Ancient Greek History

Greece has been in much of the headlines, in the past year or so, unfortunately. With all the negative publicity Greece has been getting, I thought it would be a good idea to dedicate this post (and another post about their post-Ottoman period tomorrow) to Greece and the Greek people, hoping that people will remember what the country, as a whole, has been through in its entire history, since the time of the city states to the post-WWII Greece.

Early History:

The earliest known civilization in Greece was the Cycladic civilization, that was based in the Aegean sea at around 3000 BC, the Minoan civilization in Crete (2700–1500 BC) and then the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland (1900–1100 BC). Two of the most celebrated works of Greek literature, the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer, were written during that period.

In 776 BC, the first Olympic games were held. By this time, Greece was divided into many quarreling city states and kingdoms. These city states were not restricted to presen…

Freshen Up With Archaeology Friday (Post VIII)

Not so much a Friday so excuse the lateness of this post. Since I don't have much time, I'll simply post the latest developments in brief.

New discovery at early Islamic site in Jordan: Uncovered inscription reveals name of Umayyad prince  Uncovering the Great Theater of Apamea : New discoveries are being made at the great Roman Theater of Apamea in SyriaAnd for the question of the post, Is Tudor England a myth ? Historians debate the use of the term 'Tudors' believing it was not so commonly used in the 16th century as previously thought.An exorcism ? 'Vampire' Plague Victim Spurs Gruesome Debate amongst Archaeologists.
What may have been an exorcism of a vampire in Venice is now drawing bad blood among scientists arguing over whether gravediggers were attempting to defeat an undead monster.

The controversy begins with a mass grave of 16th-century plague victims on the Venetian island of Nuovo Lazzaretto.

The remains of a woman there apparently had a brick …