The Spread of Greek Culture

  • The Journey of Classical Greek Culture to the West

    The cultural center of what would become our Western heritage moved from Rome and Constantinople to cities in the Islamic world, the most famous of which were Baghdad and Cordoba.

  • From Rome to Baghdad – The Golden Age of Islam

    Rome’s decline, followed by the disastrous Byzantine wars with Persia, left a vacuum into which the Muslim invaders stepped, taking over the land and ideas of the peoples they conquered, including their accumulated resources of Greek literature, philosophy and sciences.

  • Polymaths of the Golden Age

    The luminaries who contributed to the work of the House of Wisdom spoke several languages and were all polymaths, with their knowledge and abilities spanning many different fields.

  • The Maragha Revolution

    In 1258 the Mongol Hulagu Khan’s army besieged the walls of Baghdad, sacking the city. The Mongols massacred thousands, and destroyed mosques, palaces, hospitals, and libraries destroying their priceless books. This marked the end of the Islamic Golden Age.

  • The Iberian Peninsula – Al-Andalus (750–1031)

    As previously mentioned, in 750 the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad dynasty in a deadly feud that left the latter facing near extermination. Luckily, 16-year-old Abd ar-Rahman escaped and, with the help of those still loyal to the Umayyads, fled to Spain, where he had Berber relatives on his mother’s side. With loyal Umayyad help, he entered Cordoba (formerly Khordoba of the Visigoths) and became its ruler.

  • The End of the Caliphate and the Christian Reconquest

    Besides Spain, there were other pathways of transmission and translation between the Christian and Muslim worlds. Venice traded with the Muslim world for centuries. We owe our coffee habit to the importation of the beverage into Europe from the Arab world by Venetian merchants.