Middle East

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Long an image of the area the Dome of the Rock was depicted on stamps of Palestine under British mandate.

Located on Temple Mount, this Islamic Shrine is located in a city that is holy to Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

Muslims believe that the rock in the center of the temple bears a footprint of Muhammad and was the start of his Night Journey which he took around 621CE. 

The octagonal building was completed in 691, with the present dome added in 1023. The exterior tile work was added by the Ottomans in the 16th century.

Europe Middle East


Pergamum, modern Bergama was the royal capital of Philetarios (343-263BCE) who founded the Attalid dynasty in 282 BCE.  With it were a number of monuments commemorating the Attalid victory. The best known was the Tru,Peter, better known as the Dying Gaul, of which a later copy is in Rome. The colonnades and gateway which remain bears the inscription “King Eumenes to the victory bearing Athena”.  The gateway is decorated with trophies of war.  

A library once stood here which had a copy of  Pheidias’ colossal gold and ivory statue of Athen Parthenos dating to 440 BCE.

The sanctuary of Athena dominated the skyline of the acropolis along with a stepped altar of Zeus constructed by EU, ends II, which evokes the Attalid victory over the Gauls, just as the Parthenon’s decoration celebrated Greek victory over the Persians.

The east side of Pergamon held royal palaces.

In 133 BCE Attalos III bequeathed the city to Rome and Hadrian constructed a massive temple to his father, Trajan, northwest of the sanctuary of Athena.

A sanctuary to the healing god, Asklepios, was constructed in the lower part of the city.

Middle East

Petra, the Rose City

The area around Petra has been inhabited from as early as 7000 BC and became the capital of the Nabatean kingdom around the 4th century BC.

Set within a series of valleys or wadis, the entrance to the city is through a narrow gorge.  The first thing you see is the two story facade of Al-Khazneh which is cut into the rock face.  The structure may have originally been a temple.  

Further is a Roman theater constructed in the early part of the second century CE.  The upper part of the seating is cut through an earlier Nabatean street.

The stage, in the Roman style, was erected in front of the auditorium.

A colonnaded street, also Roman, at the eastern end is a fountain fed water by a system running through the Siq.  Markets flanked the south side of the colonnade.

Middle East

Kilwa Kisiwani Ruins

This UNESCO World Heritage site dates from the first millennium CE, but it was not until the next millennium that Kilwa became a wealthy trading center.  It’s importance lies in its Islamic architecture as well as the growth of Sawhili culture.

Under the Kilwa sultanate the city was an important center of intercontinental trade with the Arabian peninsula along with India and China.  Kilwa’s rulers gained control of the export of African Gold in the late 12th century.

Excavations unearthed unglazed ceramics as well as exotic goods such as Chinese celadon ware and Persian faience.  Kilwa minted its own coins from the 11th to 14th centuries.

Kilwa declined in the late 1300s, and fell after being invaded by the Portuguese in 1505.

Middle East


Mesolithic hunter gatherers once occupied the caves in the hills while farmers settled in the valley in the fourth millennium BCE.  In the late sixth century BCE a substantial settlement was built on the southeastern end of the valley.

Material excavated from the area attests to contact with civilizations as far as the Ganges Valley, which supports the belief that Gandhara was one of the early historic Indian kingdoms.

When Alexander the Great conquered the Achaemenid empire and reached India in 326 BCE Taxila’s king voluntarily surrendered to him though no material excavated links Taxila’s to the Persians or Alexander.

Due to the power vacuum that befell Taxila after Alexander’s incursion the region fell to Chandragupta Maurya in 311 BCE.

Taxila was strategically located for trade.  Located in Gandhara, northern Punjab, history records Taxila’s participation in many encounters between east and west.

Taxila became the Maurya’s northern capital.  Ashoka was viceroy here during his father’s reign.  Most buildings uncovered belong to this period.  Houses had a central courtyard.

Europe General Middle East Mythology

Free Kindle Books 5

Here are a couple more free Kindle books. You can simply ‘buy for $0.00‘ and they’ll be sent to your Amazon account.

The Sumerians

The Children of Odin

Renaissance Futurities

It’s another opportunity to read some basic information.

And, they’re free!

General Middle East

Archaeology in Jerusalem — A Philatelic View

A short article on the Archaeology in Jerusalem is found at this site which includes references to archaeology. From the site:

“Digging into archaeological sites will probably not yield any philatelic finds, but digging into postage stamps will often yield a good deal about archaeology. Thus, Biblical archaeology buffs may be interested in a series of five stamps recently released by the Israel Philatelic Services entitled “Archaeology In Jerusalem.”

It’s an interesting short read.

General Middle East People

Famous Archaeologists

A short list of famous archaeologists is on the Julian Truben site which includes references to archaeologists. From the site:

“Jean Francois Champollion (1790 – 1832), French philologist and orientalist: the decipherer of the Rosetta Stone hieroglyphs in 1822.”

It’s an interesting short read.

Europe General Middle East

Free Kindle Books

A pair of free Kindle books caught my attention and I’ll pass this information along to readers here. You can simply ‘buy for $0.00‘ and they’ll be sent to your Amazon account.

The Vikings

The Assyrian Empire

They may not be red meat for anyone with a knowledge of those fields, but they do present an opportunity to read some basic information.

And, they’re free!