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Empire and States in the Middle East and Southwest Asia

Purpose of Course  showclose

This course will introduce you to the history of the Middle East and Southwest Asia from the pre-Islamic period to the end of World War I.  You will learn about the major political, economic, and social changes that took place.  The course will be structured chronologically.  Most units will include representative primary-source documents that illustrate important overarching political, economic, and social themes, such as the formation of ancient empires in the second and first millennia BCE, the political and social influence of Islam on the region in the first millennium CE, the growth and expansion of Muslim states in the second millennium CE, and the impact of European imperialism on the region in the 18th and 19th centuries.  By the end of the course, you will understand how the Middle East and Southwest Asia developed politically, economically, and socially prior to World War One and recognize the critical role that the region played in the broader development of European and Asian societies.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to HIST231: Empires and States in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.  Below, please find some general information on the course and its requirements.
 
Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Pay special attention to Unit 1 as this lays the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in later units.  You will also need to complete:
  • Final Exam
Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the readings, lectures, and web media in each unit.
 
In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
 
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 130.25 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 10 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete the subunit 1.1 introduction through Subunit s 1.1.3 (a total of 3 hours) on Monday night; Subunit s 1.1.4 through 1.1.8 (a total of 3 hours) on Tuesday; subunits 1.2 and 1.3 (a total of 4 hours) on Wednesday night; etc.
 
Tips/Suggestions: It may help to take notes on each resource.  These notes will be useful for review as you study for your Final Exam.  

Khan Academy  
This course features a number of Khan Academy™ videos. Khan Academy™ has a library of over 3,000 videos covering a range of topics (math, physics, chemistry, finance, history and more), plus over 300 practice exercises. All Khan Academy™ materials are available for free at www.khanacademy.org.

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  • Discuss the history of East Asia from the pre-Islamic period through the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Analyze the interactions between ancient civilizations of the Middle East and Southwest Asia in the pre-Islamic period.
  • Identify the origins of Islam, and assess the political and cultural impact of the Muslim faith on the peoples of the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin.
  • Identify the origins of the Umayyad and Abbasid Empires, and assess how these dynasties reshaped political and economic life throughout the Middle East and Southwest Asia.
  • Describe and assess the social and cultural impact of Islam on the peoples of the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin.
  • Identify external threats to the Muslim world during the Middle Ages, and analyze how Muslim leaders responded to these threats.
  • Identify the origins of the Ottoman Empire, and assess how the Ottomans established political and economic control over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
  • Analyze the political, economic, and military interactions between the Ottoman Empire and the nations of Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Explain how European imperialism destabilized the Middle East and Southwest Asia in the 19th and early 20th centuries and allowed European nations to establish political control over many Middle Eastern nations.
  • Analyze the political impact of World War I on the peoples and nations of the Middle East.
  • Analyze and interpret primary source documents from the per-Islamic period through the beginning of the 20th century using historical research methods.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash) and software.

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft Office files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.)

√    Have competency in the English language.  

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Unit Outline show close


Expand All Resources Collapse All Resources
  • Unit 1: Pre-Islamic Peoples and Civilizations of the Middle East and Southeast Asia  

    The Middle East is a truly ancient and complex region.  The oldest civilizations in recorded history originated in the Middle East and Southwest Asia in roughly the fourth millennium BCE.  By the first millennium BCE, major centers of urban civilization had developed in modern-day Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Egypt.  Warfare and trade competition between these competing urban centers shaped the economic and social growth of the region.  Outside factors, including Greek and Roman invasions at the end of the first millennium BCE, also had a powerful influence on the development of the region.   In this unit, you will examine the history of the peoples and civilizations of the Middle East and Southwest Asia prior to the rise of Islam in the 7th century CE.  You will look at how political, social, and cultural influences from both the East and the West led to the development of complex and diverse societies throughout the region and influenced the growth and expansion of new empires at the beginning of the first millennium CE.

    Unit 1 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 1 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 1.1 Ancient Civilizations  
    • Reading: Fordham University’s Ancient History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Selections from Herodotus’s The History of the Persian Wars, 450 BCE

      Link: Fordham University’s Ancient History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Selections from Herodotus’s The History of the Persian Wars, 450 BCE (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire text.  In this selection from The History of the Persian Wars, ancient Greek historian and ethnographer Herodotus discusses the peoples and civilizations of Babylonia, Chaldea, and Assyria in the 5th century BCE.  Herodotus offers detailed descriptions of Babylonian culture, including dress and religious practices.  He also provides information about the design of Babylonian cities and their extreme opulence.  He contrasts this opulence with the harsh living conditions of the surrounding region, which encompasses modern-day Iraq.  The subunits below (1.1.1 through 1.1.8) outline some of the ancient civilizations that took root in the region.  This reading should take you approximately 1.5 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.1.1 Sumerians  
    • Reading: Grand Valley State University: Michael Webster’s “Sumerian Myth"

      Link: Grand Valley State University: Michael Webster’s “Sumerian Myth” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire webpage in which you will learn about Sumerian creation myths.  At the end of each section, there are some questions to think about.  As you read, also consider the following question: what great contributions did the Sumerians provide our world?  This reading and these questions should take you approximately 1.5 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.1.2 Hittites  
  • 1.1.3 Hebrews  
  • 1.1.4 Assyrians  
    • Reading: Livius: Jona Lendering’s “Assyria”

      Link: Livius: Jona Lendering’s “Assyria” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire text, and view the images on the webpage.  Click on any embedded hyperlinks for more information.  As you read about this and other ancient empires, consider the following questions: How did Assyria emerge and collapse?  Do you think there are any patterns?  This reading and these questions should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above. 

  • 1.1.5 Egyptians  
  • 1.1.6 Babylonians  
    • Reading: Travis’ Ancient History: “Babylonian Culture”

      Link: Travis’ Ancient History: “Babylonian Culture” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire webpage for an overview of Babylonian culture, including information on its legacy, geography, military, government, religion, economy, and architecture.  As you read, take notes and then write a brief paragraph about the significance of this empire in terms of political and religious contributions to world.  This reading, taking notes, and writing a paragraph should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above. 

  • 1.1.7 Phoenicians  
  • 1.1.8 Persians  
  • 1.2 Alexander the Great  
    • Reading: The History Channel’s “Alexander the Great”

      Link: The History Channel’s “Alexander the Great” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire article (2 pages).  Make sure to click on the next button at the end of the page to continue on to the second page.  This link contains concise information about Alexander.  After reading it, write 1-3 paragraphs about in which ways he could be considered a ruler of a Middle Eastern/Southwest Asian empire.  This reading and writing should take you approximately 3 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

    • Reading: MIT: Plutarch’s “Alexander”

      Link: MIT: Plutarch’s “Alexander” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire text, which talks about Alexander’s life, was written by Plutarch in 75 C.E, and translated by John Dryden.  It will give you an idea of how Alexander was perceived by a Greek author in the first century C.E.  You should spend approximately 2.5 hours reading this text and taking detailed notes.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • 1.3 The Roman/Byzantine Period  
  • 1.3.1 Rise of the Byzantine Empire  
    • Reading: Flow of History: Chris Butler’s “The Byzantine Empire: c. 500-1025

      Link: Flow of History: Chris Butler’s “The Byzantine Empire: c. 500-1025” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire text, and view the chart on the webpage.  As you read, consider the following: why do most scholars consider the Byzantine Empire as the Eastern Roman Empire?  Think about the continuations and breaks of the Byzantine Empire with the Western Roman Empire.  This reading should take you approximately 1.5 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • 1.3.2 Decline of the Byzantine Empire  
  • 1.4 The Sassanid Empire  
    • Reading: Iran Chamber Society’s “The Sassanid Empire”

      Link: Iran Chamber Society’s  “The Sassanid Empire” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire webpage to learn about the structure of and religious beliefs in the Sassanid Empire.  As you progress in the course, you will see how Islamic society was influenced by earlier political and social structures, such as the Sassanid Empire.  After the reading, research the relationship between this empire and Islam.  As you will see Islamic armies expended toward the Sassanid territories.  This reading and assignment should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • 1.5 Pre-Islamic Arabia  
  • Unit 2: Islam and the Emergence of the Muslim State  

    The emergence of Islam in Arabia during the 7th century CE had a significant social and political impact on the development of the Middle East and Southwest Asia.  Muhammad, the founder of the Muslim faith, began preaching to his fellow tribesmen in Mecca and later Medina in the early 600s.  By the time of his death in 632, he had united the warring tribes of the Arabian Peninsula into a single religious and political community.  Later caliphs (religious successors to Muhammad) conquered surrounding kingdoms and rapidly spread Islam throughout Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean Basin.  In this unit, you will examine the origins of Islam and look at its broader political and social influence on the region.  You will also explore how Islam evolved from a regional religious faith into a powerful socio-political force that had a lasting impact on the peoples and cultures of the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

    Unit 2 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 2 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 2.1 Muhammad  
  • 2.2 Early Islam and Islamic Conquests  
  • 2.3 Succession Struggle after Muhammad’s Death  
  • 2.3.1 The First Caliph: Abu Bakr  

    Note: This topic is covered by the readings assigned below subunit 2.3.  In particular, pay attention to the text about the first caliph in the Islamic Web’s “The Rightly Guided Caliphs” reading.

  • 2.3.2 The Second Caliph: ‘Umar  

    Note: This topic is covered by the readings assigned below subunit 2.3.  In particular, pay attention to the text about the second caliph in the Islamic Web’s “The Rightly Guided Caliphs” reading.

  • 2.3.3 The Third Caliph: Uthman  

    Note: This topic is covered by the readings assigned below subunit 2.3.  In particular, pay attention to the text about the third caliph in the Islamic Web’s “The Rightly Guided Caliphs” reading.

  • 2.3.4 The Fourth Caliph: Ali  

    Note: This topic is covered by the readings assigned below subunit 2.3.  In particular, pay attention to the text about the fourth caliph in the Islamic Web’s “The Rightly Guided Caliphs” reading.

  • 2.4 Sunni- Shi’a Split  
  • 2.4.1 Origins of the Sunni-Shi’a Split  
    • Reading: BBC’s “Sunni and Shi’a”

      Link: BBC’s “Sunni and Shi’a” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: This is the most significant split in Islam.  Read the entire text, and pay attention to the reasons for the split.  Write a summary paragraph that describes this split into Sunni and Shi’a.  This reading and paragraph should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

    • Reading: NPR: Mike Shuster’s “The Origins of the Shia-Sunni Split”

      Link: NPR: Mike Shuster’s “The Origins of the Shia-Sunni Split” (HTML, and MP4 or Adobe Flash)
       
      Instructions: Please read this entire article that supplements the other materials in this subunit to explain the reasons for the Shi’a-Sunni split.  Listen to the 8-minute podcast by clicking on "Listen" or the icon below the article’s title.  This reading and podcast should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage linked above.

  • 2.4.2 Comparisons of the Sunni and Shi’a  
  • Unit 3: The Umayyad and Abbasid Empires  

    After the period called “Rightly Guided Caliphs,” the Umayyad Caliphate emerged in the mid-600s CE following a succession struggle among the descendants of Muhammad.  In less than 50 years, the Umayyad Dynasty’s military forces secured political control of a vast region stretching from the Punjab region of India westward across the Middle East and North Africa to Spain.  Umayyad leaders eventually moved their seat of power from Arabia to Damascus (in modern-day Syria).  The Umayyads did not force conquered peoples to convert to Islam, but they did tax non-Muslim peoples heavily to provide revenues for the state.  In the mid-700s, growing discontent with Umayyad rule led to a revolt that brought the Abbasid family to power.  The Abbasid Dynasty shifted political power from Damascus to Baghdad and attempted to develop bureaucratic institutions to consolidate and manage their vast empire.  In this unit, you will study the formation of the Umayyad Empire and its impact on the peoples and cultures of the Middle East and Southwest Asia.  You will also look at the differences between Umayyad and the Abbasid imperial administrations and the major challenges that both dynasties faced as they attempted to govern a vast and complex political-religious empire.

    Unit 3 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 3 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 3.1 Rise of the Umayyad Empire  
  • 3.2 Conquest of Spain  
    • Reading: BBC’s “Muslim Spain”

      Link: BBC’s “Muslim Spain” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire text.  What do you think of the enduring Islamic legacy in Spain today?  This reading and question should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

    • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Peter Halsall’s version of Ibn Abd-el-Hakem’s “The Islamic Conquest of Spain”

      Link Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Peter Halsall’s version of Ibn Abd-el-Hakem’s “The Islamic Conquest of Spain” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire text.  This piece is written by a 9th century Egyptian author and as such one of the earliest account of the capture of Spain by Islamic armies.  Taking notes and reading this entire text should take you approximately 1.5 hours to complete
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

    • Web Media: BBC’s “Muslim Spain”

      Link: BBC’s “Muslim Spain” (Adobe Flash)
       
      Instructions: Please click on “Listen Now” on the audio file by the BBC.  You will hear a rich discussion on how Islamic Spain contributed to Western Civilization.  This web media will supplement the BBC reading in this subunit.  Listening to the audio file and taking notes should take you approximately 2 hours to complete
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • 3.2.1 Collapse of the Umayyad Empire  
  • 3.2.2 Shifting Power Base from Damascus to Baghdad  
    • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation's “The Umayyad and the Abbasid Empires”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation's “The Umayyad and the Abbasid Empires” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above to download the assessment.  Please write out approximately one paragraph answers for each question.  After completing this assessment, please check your responses against the Saylor Foundation’s “Guide to Responding to the Umayyad and the Abbasid Empires.” (PDF) Your answers should contain, but not be limited to, the information provided in the answer sheet.  This assessment should take approximately 3 hours to complete.

    • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Yakut’s “Baghdad under the Abbasids, ca. 1000 CE”

      Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Yakut’s “Baghdad under the Abbasids, ca. 1000 CE” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire text.  This 11th century document offers a detailed description of the city of Baghdad at the height of the Abbasid Empire.  Yakut, the author, explains how the city is laid out on both sides of the Tigris River and describes the royal palace of the caliph.  He also mentions the extensive military fortifications of the city and describes the fine quality of the building materials used to construct the palaces of the nobles along the bank of the Tigris.  His account highlights the beauty and sophistication of Baghdad under the Abbasids.  After reading this text, write a brief paragraph that summarizes life in Baghdad under the Abbasids.  This reading and paragraph should take you approximately 1.5 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

    • Web Media: BBC’s “Abbasid Caliphs”

      Link: BBC’s “Abbasid Caliphs” (Adobe Flash)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the “listen now.”  The link will take you to an informative interview on the subject.  Melvyn Bragg discusses the Abbasids with several world renown scholars.  Listening to this podcast and taking notes should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • Unit 4: The Social and Cultural Impact of Islam  

    Islam had a powerful social and cultural impact on the Middle East and Southwest Asia.  It served as an overarching social and cultural institution uniting the diverse peoples of the regions conquered by Muslim rulers beginning in the mid-600s CE.  Islam promoted strict religious and ethical values and offered specific guidelines for behavioral and social norms.  It also promoted the unity of religious and political institutions.  With the assent of the Abbasid Dynasty in the mid-700s, the Middle East entered the Islamic Golden Age.  Over the next 400 years, Muslim scholars and scientists made significant advances in agricultural production, applied mathematics, chemistry, and other fields.  As Islamic cities grew more crowded, water and sewer systems were added and other means were used to promote cleanliness and public health.  In this unit, you will examine the social and cultural impact of Islam on the regions conquered by Muslim rulers during the last three centuries of the first millennium CE and take a look at the scientific and humanistic advances of the Islamic Golden Age.  

    Unit 4 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 4 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 4.1 Islamic Theology and Law  
    • Web Media: BBC: Melvyn Bragg's “Islamic Law and Its Origins”

      Link: BBC: Melvyn Bragg's “Islamic Law and Its Origins” (Adobe Flash)
       
      Instructions: The audio discusses the origins and early development of Islamic law, Sharia.  Please listen to this piece in its entirety.  Click on “Listen Now” to launch the audio lecture, which will lay the groundwork for the complex belief system.  Listening to this program and taking notes should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • 4.1.1 Quran as the Original Source  
    • Reading: Quran.org: Sachiko Murata and William C. Chittick’s “The Koran”

      Link: Quran.org: Sachiko Murata and William C. Chittick’s “The Koran” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: This is a very informative introduction to the Quran.  Please note that the word “Quran” is spelled in many different ways (i.e. Koran).  The authors are two of the utmost authorities on Islam.  This piece should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

      The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

      Submit Materials

  • 4.1.2 Religious Law  
  • 4.1.3 Law Schools  
  • 4.1.3.1 The Sunni Tradition  
    • Reading: Philtar’s Overview of World Religions: Sunni Tradition: “Schools of Jurisprudence”

      Link: Philtar’s Overview of World Religions: Sunni Tradition: “Schools of Jurisprudence” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Below “Schools of Jurisprudence” on the chart, please click on the frames titled Malikiyya, Shafi’iyya, Hanafiyya, and Hanballiya.  These are four major schools of Sunni Law.  When you click on the stated boxes, the links will take you to pages where you can get brief information about Islamic schools of law, each of which has a different interpretation of Islamic law.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • 4.1.3.2 The Shi’a Tradition  
    • Reading: Philtar’s Overview of World Religions: “Shi’a Islam”

      Link: Philtar’s Overview of World Religions: “Shi’a Islam” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: The chart has links to several divisions in the Shi’a tradition.  These are different from those in the Sunni ones in many respects, one of which is the way it interprets the Sharia.  Please click on the frames titled Zaydiyyah, Isma’iliyyah, and Imamiyyah.  These links will take you to webpages that provide brief text on each of these three major divisions in the Shi’a.  Note that when clicking on “Isma’iliyyah,” the webpage will prompt you to click on the “Shi’ism” link.  Try to understand the similarities and differences among these divisions and with the Sunnis. This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • 4.2 Science and Technology  
  • Unit 5: The Middle East and Southwest Asia in the Middle Ages  

    Outside forces began to destabilize the expansive Abbasid Empire by the beginning of the second millennium CE.  In 1063, Pope Alexander II gave his papal blessing to Christian efforts to drive Abbasid conquerors out of Spain.  Then, in response to pleas for aid from the head of the Christian Byzantine Empire, Pope Gregory VII began promoting a holy war against Muslims who had taken control of Jerusalem and the Holy Land in 1095.  Over the next two centuries, the Crusades brought Christians and Muslims into direct military conflict over control of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.  In the East, the Abbasids faced a growing threat from Mongol invaders.  In 1258, the Mongols sacked Baghdad and killed the Abbasid caliph.  As a result, central rule in the Abbasid Empire collapsed and political power shifted to new regional bases in Egypt and Turkey.  In this unit, you will examine how European and Mongol invaders destabilized the Abbasid Empire during the Middle Ages.  You will also look at how the Christian Byzantine Empire (the remnant of the once-vast Roman Empire) attempted to maintain its independence and exert political control over Asia Minor despite threats from Muslim and Western European foes. 

    Unit 5 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 5 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 5.1 The Crusades  
  • 5.1.1 The Crusader States in Decline  
    • Reading: All Empires: Riders’ “Weakness of the Crusader States”

      Link: All Empires: Riders’ “Weakness of the Crusader States” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire webpage.  The Crusader States eventually went into a gradual decline.  This reading examines the underlying factors for this decline.  After reading, take about 30 minutes to write a summary of the reasons for decline of the crusader states.  This reading and summary should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • 5.1.2 Fall of Jerusalem  
  • 5.2 Mongol Invasion of the 1200s  
    • Reading: University of Wisconsin-Green Bay: Steven Dutch’s “The Mongols”

      Link: University of Wisconsin-Green Bay: Steven Dutch’s “The Mongols” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire article.  The Mongols were another destructive force that entered the region.   This reading will introduce to you their rise and expansion.  This reading will also cover the topics outlined in Subunit s 5.2.1 through 5.2.3.  Reading this piece and taking notes should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

    • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Ibn al-Athir’s “On the Tartars, ca. 1220-1221 CE”

      Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Ibn al-Athir’s “On the Tartars, ca. 1220-1221 CE”  (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read the entire text.  In this 13th century text, author Ibn al-Athir describes the Tartar, or Mongol, invasion of Southwest Asia and the Abbasid Empire.  He notes the ruthlessness of the Mongols and describes how they slay all who resist them.  He also describes their seeming lack of religious values compared to Muslims and notes that they have no need to stop and re-supply during their invasions, because they have herds of cows, sheep, and horses that follow them as they invade.  Reading this piece and taking comprehensive notes should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • 5.2.1 Rise of the Mongols  

    Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 5.2.  Focus on the text below the heading “Rise of Mongol Power” and “Why the Mongols Succeeded.”

  • 5.2.2 Mongols in Europe  

    Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 5.2.  Focus on the text below the heading “The Mongols in Europe.”

  • 5.2.3 Mongols in the Middle East  

    Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 5.2.  Focus on the text below the heading “Mongols in the Middle East.”

  • 5.3 Rise of the Turks  
    • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet History Sourcebook: J.J. Sounders’ A History of Medieval Islam: “Chapter IX: The Turkish Irruption”

      Link: Fordham University’s Internet History Sourcebook: J.J. Sounders’ A History of Medieval Islam: “Chapter IX: The Turkish Irruption” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read Chapter IX of Sounders’ A History of Medieval Islam.  With the pouring of the Turks into the region, the political landscape changed once again.  This reading will explain the process in which the Seljuk Turks entered Asia Minor by defeating the Byzantine Empire.  As the next unit will explain, after the split of the Great Seljuk Empire, the Ottoman Empire will form the last mighty Islamic Empire.  This reading and taking notes should take you approximately 3 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

    • Reading: All Empires: Ihsan’s “The Seljuk Empire”

      Link: All Empires: Ihsan’s “The Seljuk Empire” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire webpage, and carefully study the list of rulers and important events.  The Seljuks are the first Turkic Empire that pushed the Byzantine territory farther west.  This reading will give you information about their rise.  This reading and taking notes should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • Unit 6: The Ottoman Empire  

    The collapse of the Abbasid Empire at the end of the 13th century enabled Turkish rulers in eastern Asia Minor to consolidate political power in the region.  Over the course of the 14th and 15th centuries, Ottoman Turks chipped away at the Byzantine Empire and established control over territories in the Balkans.  In 1453, the Ottomans captured the Byzantine capitol of Constantinople and the Turkish sultanate quickly emerged as a major world power.  The Ottoman Empire continued to expand into Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Basin during the 1500s, but gradually became overextended in the East and the West.  During the next three centuries, the Ottomans attempted to consolidate their far-flung political and military holdings while dealing with new threats along the periphery of their empire.  During this time period, the Empire also entered a period of economic and cultural decline, and, by the mid-19th century, it had lost much of the economic and political power it had once possessed.  Nationalist movements threatened the integrity of the Empire and the Ottomans became dependent on Western European banks for funding to finance modernization projects.  Consequently, the Empire was no longer in a position to resist encroachments by imperialist European powers. 
    In this unit, you will look at the rapid expansion and gradual decline of the Ottoman Empire from the 1300s through the end of the 19th century.  You will examine the administrative structure of the Ottoman state and consider why central authorities failed to implement important social, cultural, and economic reforms in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Finally, you will examine how European nations began to undercut the economic and political power of the Empire at the beginning of the 19th century.

    Unit 6 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 6 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 6.1 Origins of the Ottoman Empire  
  • 6.2 Fall of Constantinople in 1453  
    • Reading: Hellenic Electronic Center’s Professor Dionysios Hatzopoulos’ version of Nicolo Barbaro’s “The Fall of Constantinople, 1453”

      Link: Hellenic Electronic Center’s Professor Dionysios Hatzopoulos’ version of Nicolo Barbaro’s “The Fall of Constantinople, 1453” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please skip the poem at the beginning and start reading from the text below it.  The narrative is based on eyewitness accounts and reflects the view of those who are conquered.  It is a very vivid description of the capture of the capital city of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.  Keep in mind that its walls defended city over a thousand years.  After you read this text, write a brief paragraph that describes the fall of Constantinople.  You should dedicate approximately 4 hours to reading this text, taking notes, and writing this paragraph.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • 6.3 Ottoman Social, Political, and Military Institutions  
    • Reading: Library of Congress’s Country Studies: Helen Chapin Metz’s “Ottoman Institutions”

      Link: Library of Congress’s Country Studies: Helen Chapin Metz’s “Ottoman Institutions” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire webpage to learn about the class system and the general hierarchy in the Ottoman Empire.  The reading and taking notes should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
       
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    • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “A Visit to the Wife of Suleiman the Magnificent”

      Link: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “A Visit to the Wife of Suleiman the Magnificent” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read this brief excerpt translated from a letter (circa 1550) by an unknown Genoese traveler.  It vividly describes a portion of a daily life in the women’s section of the palace (Harem).  It is an exceptional piece, because generally no one was allowed to visit this section of the palace but the sultan and close servants.  An argument can be made that the Harem was an Ottoman institution also.  After reading the text, take about 10 minutes to write a paragraph that describes the Harem, based on what you learned in this readingYou should spend approximately 1.5 hours in reading this text, taking notes, and writing the descriptive paragraph.
       
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  • 6.4 Decline of the Ottomans  
    • Reading: Naqshbandi’s “The Decline”

      Link: Naqshbandi’s “The Decline” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: This text describes how the Ottoman Empire went on decline and the major players responsible for it.  The information is very easy to read but very important, especially considering that after the collapse of this empire the modern Middle East emerged.  While reading the text, keep in mind that the next unit will explain the infiltration of the Western power into the region and its effects.  Reading and taking comprehensive notes should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
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  • Unit 7: Persia Under the Safavid Empire and Beyond  

    The Shi’a Safavid Empire presented a major threat to the Sunni Ottoman Empire.  The two empires vied for power especially in Mesopotamia.  Although both were Islamic empires, they were political rivals and economic competitors.  The Safavids established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire.  Soon after its formation, this Shi’a empire cultivated trade and political relations with the Western powers, especially with Great Britain.  These relations mark the beginnings of European intervention in Iran.
               
    In this unit, you will learn about the political, artistic, and cultural accomplishments of this empire and its relations with the neighboring Ottoman Empire.  In addition to two major dynasties—the Safavids and the Qajars— that ruled Persia between the 16th to the 20th centuries, you will learn about the European involvement in the region.  

    Unit 7 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 7 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 7.1 Political History  
  • 7.1.1 Rise and Decline of the Safavids  
    • Reading: Iran Chamber Society: Shapour Ghasemi’s “Safavid Empire 1502 – 1736”

      Link: Iran Chamber Society: Shapour Ghasemi’s “Safavid Empire 1502 – 1736” (HTML)

      Instructions: Please read the entire article.  This reading will introduce you to the Safavid Dynasty and its political accomplishments.  After you read, write a brief paragraph or two on the main accomplishments of the Safavid Dynasty.  You should dedicate approximately 3 hours to reading, writing the paragraph, and taking comprehensive notes on this text.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

    • Web Media: iTunes: BBC's Melvyn Bragg 's “Safavid Dynasty”

      Link: iTunes: BBC's Melvyn Bragg's “Safavid Dynasty” (iTunes audio)
       
      Instructions: Select “View in iTunes” for the “Safavid Dynasty” lecture.  The link will take you to an iTunes podcast where BBC’s Melvyn Bragg and his guests will discuss the rise of this dynasty and empire’s accomplishments.  Please listen to the entire podcast.  This audio file will complement the reading above and should take you approximately 2 hours to complete. 
       
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  • 7.1.2 Ottoman-Persia Relations  
  • 7.1.3 The Qajar Period in Persia  
    • Reading: Iran Chamber Society’s “The Qajar Dynasty”

      Link: Iran Chamber Society’s “The Qajar Dynasty” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire text, which will introduce you to the last significant dynasty in Persia before the modern period.  The reading deals with the Qajar rulers and also Persia’s experience with European imperialism.  After reading this piece, write a page long paper explain the interaction between Europe and the Qajar dynasty.  The reading and writing should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
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  • 7.2 The Persian Arts  
  • 7.2.1 Safavid Painting  
    • Reading: Art Arena: K. Kianush’s “The Safavids, 1502-1737”

      Link: Art Arena: K. Kianush’s “The Safavids, 1502-1737” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire webpage.  Safavid art was best known for miniature paintings and carpeting.  This text focuses on Safavid painting.  Examine the images and try to appreciate the intricate motifs in the miniatures on this link.  The reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
       
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  • 7.2.2 Women in Safavid History and Art  
    • Reading: Iran Chamber Society’s “Women in the Safavid Era”

      Link: Iran Chamber Society’s “Women in the Safavid Era” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire article.  The first part of this text talks about women in general in the Safavid Empire.  The second half of the reading focuses on the women in art.  The reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • 7.2.3 The Qajar Art and Culture  
  • Unit 8: European Imperialism and the Middle East  

    By the beginning of the 19th century, European imperialist states began to play a direct role in the political affairs and economic development of the Middle East and Southwest Asia.  Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, but British and Ottoman troops drove French forces out three years later.  Anarchy followed until Muhammad Ali took control of the Egyptian government.  Once in power, Ali expanded Egyptian control of the region and challenged the power of the Ottoman regime.  He and his descendants also engaged in a modernization campaign in Egypt with the assistance of European powers.  Egypt fell into debt to French and British investors, who gained effective control of the government.  Elsewhere in the region, Russian forces challenged Ottoman control of the Caucasus region and forced the Ottomans to open the Black Sea to international shipping.  Russian and British forces also challenged Iranian control of the Caspian Sea region and forced concessions from the Iranian government.  By the late 19th century, the Ottoman Empire had lost political control over many of its territories outside Asia Minor.  Internal modernization and developments efforts funded by European investors had put the Empire in debt to European nations and reduced its political independence.  In the early 1900s, the Empire became increasingly unstable as political movements challenged the power of the sultan inside Turkey.  In this unit, you will examine how European imperialism altered Middle Eastern politics, economic affairs, and social life during the 19th and early 20th centuries.  You will also evaluate how European nations gained de facto control over many of the states of the region and how they used this power to enrich European investors.  Finally, you will look at how Ottoman alliances with Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I led to the downfall of the Empire following the conflict.  

    Unit 8 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 8 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 8.1 Napoleon and French Imperialism  
  • 8.1.1 Egypt before the French  

    Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 8.1.  Pay particular attention to the text below the heading “Egypt before the French.”

  • 8.1.2 French Intentions and Preparations  

    Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 8.1.  Pay particular attention to the text below the heading “French Intentions” and “French Preparations.”

  • 8.1.3 Napoleon and Nelson  

    Note: This topic is covered by the reading and the video assigned below subunit 8.1.  For the reading, pay particular attention to the text below the heading “Napoleon Lands” through “Napoleon Leaves.”

  • 8.1.4 Egypt after the Departure of French  

    Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 8.1.  Pay particular attention to the text below the heading “After Napoleon” and “Egypt after the French.”

  • 8.2 Greek Nationalism and the Ottoman Empire  
    • Reading: Michigan State University: Steven W. Sowards’ “The Greek Revolution and the Greek State”

      Link: Michigan State University: Steven W. Sowards’ “The Greek Revolution and the Greek State” (HTML)
       
      Instruction: Please read this entire text, which describes the Greek struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century.  Please pay particular attention to the first three stages of the uprisings: what makes the Greek revolts succeed?  This text covers the topics outlined in Subunit s 8.2.1 through 8.2.3.  This reading and taking detailed notes should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
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  • 8.2.1 Greek Establishment  

    Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 8.2.  Focus on the text that appears below the heading “The Greek Establishment.” 

  • 8.2.2 Revolutionary Influences  

    Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 8.2.  Focus on the text that appears below the heading “Revolutionary Influences.”

  • 8.2.3 Greek Revolution  

    Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 8.2.  In particular, pay careful attention to the sections “The Revolution of 1812: The First Phase” through “Phases Three and Four.”

  • 8.2.4 Greek Independence  

    Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 8.2.  In particular, review the text that appears below the heading “After the Revolution.”

  • 8.3 Modernization and Development in the Late Ottoman Empire  
  • 8.3.1 The Tanzimat (Reorganization) Period  
    • Reading: Michigan State University’s Electronic Middle East Sourcebook: “Redefining Tradition”

      Link: Michigan State University’s Electronic Middle East Sourcebook:Redefining Tradition” (HTML or PDF)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the “details” link in redefining tradition row.  You may then read the text in HTML format or click on the link at the bottom of the webpage to access the PDF file (4 pages).  The reading will provide a context for the translation of an Ottoman edict called the “Gulhane Decree of 1839.”  Towards the end of the text, you will read the translation of the Gulhane Decree and learn about the Ottoman efforts to modernize the empire.  With this decree, Ottomans tried to reform the administration of the empire and to please the European powers.  This reading should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
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  • 8.3.2 Tanzimat Decree of 1856  
    • Reading: Web Site of the Turkish Constitutional Law: Kemal Gozler’s version of Islahat Fermani’s “Rescript of Reform”

      Link: Web Site of the Turkish Constitutional Law: Kemal Gozler’s version of : Islahat Fermani’s “Rescript of Reform” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please read the entire text.  This is the translation of the second imperial decree in the Ottoman Empire.  It is interesting in the sense that the Ottoman Sultan would promise to take several radical reforms to follow the European model.  Keep in mind that after these reforms the Ottoman Empire will change its regime from Absolute to constitutional monarchy.  Reading this text and taking comprehensive notes should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
       
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  • 8.3.3 Constitutional Monarchy in the Ottoman Empire  
    • Reading: Web Site of the Turkish Constitutional Law: Kemal Gozler’s version of “The Ottoman Constitution”

      Link: Web Site of the Turkish Constitutional Law: Kemal Gozler’s version of ’s “The Ottoman Constitution” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: The Tanzimat period culminated in the first constitution in 1876.  It was revised in 1909 by the Young Turks.  This reading contains the text of both.  While reading, think about the transition from and Islamic Empire based on Shari’a to a modern state.  You should study the Ottoman Constitution in detail and re-read as necessary.  You should spend approximately 4 hours reading and studying this resource.
                 
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  • 8.4 World War One and the Middle East  
  • 8.4.1 Arab Nationalism  
  • 8.4.2 The Sykes Picot Agreement of 1916  
  • 8.4.3 Middle East beyond World War I  
  • Final Exam  

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