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Miniature illustration of the Devishirme thumbnail image

Devshirme System

Source

The devshirme system began in the late 14th century. Christian boys were recruited by force to serve the Ottoman government. The boys were generally taken from the Balkan provinces, converted to Islam, and then passed through a series of examinations to determine their intelligence and capabilities. In special palace schools, they learned Arabic, Persian, Turkish, math, calligraphy,... Read More »

Stellar diagram features a drawing of a ship surrounded by Chinese characters

Diagram of Admiral Zheng He’s Navigational Chart, 15th Century

Source

This chart by an unknown author shows the navigational route that was taken by Admiral Zheng He from Hormuz in southwest Asia to go to Calicut, India that is described by Ma Huan here. It will help students ascertain many of the details made by the Chinese explorers in this period to arrive in Calicut and elsewhere in the... Read More »

Art from the Penn Museum collection called "Ram in the Thicket"

Digital Collections - Penn Museum

Review
The digital collections of the Penn Museum are extensive and easily accessible through their online portal. Its written, visual, and audio sources invite many groups to explore world history by browsing its pieces.
Earthenware Mold of a Swaddled Child thumbnail image

Earthenware Mold of a Swaddled Child

Source

The earthenware mold for casting a figurine of an infant was found in Tangyangu China, and is likely dated to between 960 and 1279 CE, during the Song dynasty. The mold measures 3.2 inches long, and belongs to a collection of molds depicting men, women, and animals. The molds were likely used to make tomb figurines that were placed with the dead for burial, a ritual practice that was becoming... Read More »

Thumbnail of Painting of a woman holding flowers and a book

Epistolae: Medieval Women's Latin Letters

Review
Epistolae presumes an already developed understanding among its readers of the medieval context in which these sources were generated.
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Excerpt from Ibn Battuta's Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354

Source

The following excerpt focuses on Ibn Battuta (1304-1369), a Moroccan Berber scholar and explorer, who traveled extensively in Central Asia, China, northern and eastern Africa, as well as the Mediterranean for much of his adult life. While the details of some of his diaries may exaggerate what he saw and experienced, they do give an interesting portrayal of customs in the places in which he... Read More »

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Excerpt from the Memoirs of Ma Huan

Source

The following excerpt is from the memoir of Ma Huan (1380-1460), a Chinese Muslim voyager and translator, who accompanied Admiral Zheng He on three of his seven voyages. The excerpt focuses on their journey in Calicut (modern day Kozhikode, India) in the 1430s and highlights on aspects of their experiences there. In this excerpt Ma Huan describes the cultural and religious practices of the... Read More »

Excerpts from the Hadith by A’isha

Excerpts from the Hadith by A’isha

Source

Hadith are reports about what the Prophet Muhammad said or thought. They provide Muslims with a sense of how Muhammad applied the guidelines of the Koran to daily life. They are based on the memories and stories of those who knew the Prophet and were recorded a few generations after his death. Women in the Prophet’s family are acknowledged as legitimate authors of these religious texts, and... Read More »

Map of Florence detail showing the river passing through the city

Florence Catasto of 1427

Review
It provides a unique opportunity for students to explore the urban landscape and family life of Renaissance Florence in incredible detail, rare for a city in this period.
Drawing of several buildings surrounded by a wall

Florilegium Urbanum

Review
Inspired by the medieval concept of a textual anthology illuminating specific topics, Florilegium Urbanum allows the user to explore more than 200 short sources and excerpts from longer texts dealing with medieval English towns.

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