The Ottoman Empire undertook extensive reforms between 1839 and 1876, a period known as the Tanzimat (reorganization). Europeanized Ottoman bureaucrats and a series of decrees from the sultan shaped these reforms that sought administrative, military, legal, and educational improvements. A series of reversals in wars with European powers during the 18th century and the realization that the West... Read More »
This ceramic cup with a drinking spout is from the cargo of an Arab or Indian ship that sank in the Strait of Malacca between 826 and 850 CE. The ship, which contained thousands of other ceramic pieces, was probably bound for the Persian Gulf. The cup was made at the Changshan ceramic production center, whose kilns produced export wares during the Tang dynasty (618-906 CE). Such cups may have... Read More »
This tablet, from ancient Sumeria (as early as 2000 B.C.E.), details a day in the life of a school boy. Students learned by copying lessons on clay tablets, memorizing the lessons, and then reciting them for the school's headmaster (the "school father") or other teachers, monitors, and proctors of the school.
The composition translated here, about a day in the life of a budding scribe,... Read More »
In the mid-20th century, countries in the Middle East struggled to establish a post-independence identity. Educational reformers and government officials tried to create national cohesion through expanded schooling, closing the gap between elites educated in private Francophone or Anglophone schools, and the masses of ordinary Egyptians. Taha Hussein (1889-1973) became a towering figure of... Read More »
This is a depiction of A’isha, one of Muhammad’s wives. She was close to the Prophet and is the author of roughly 1,200 Hadith. Her involvement tells us something about the public role that some women played in the early Muslim community and the respect she was given.
On 25 December 1979, the Soviet Union deployed its army in Afghanistan, in support of the Afghan Communist government against a group of Muslim opponents. For the next nine years, only the active military involvement of the Soviet Union maintained any political control in Afghanistan, primarily through their control of the capital city of Kabul and its airport. With a long-drawn out military... Read More »
These images are from a news-reel showing the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, 1988. From 1979 to 1988, Soviet troops fought a bloody war in Afghanistan to support the country’s failing pro-Soviet regime.