Arabia 500 CE

The civilization of southern Arabia has declined, along with the great desert trade routes.

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What is happening in Arabia in 500CE

The control of the lucrative maritime trade is now in the hands of the kingdom of Axum, in modern Ethiopian, and the southern Arabian civilization has declined with the fall off in overland traffic up the peninsula. The once-extensive irrigation systems have become badly degraded, with sometimes calamitous effects: there is evidence for dam collapses and destructive floods affecting some of the most populous centres of population. Nomadic herders now graze their flocks where once was fertile agriculture.

The decline in the overland trade seems to have led to a rise in warfare between the nomadic tribes of the interior. Commerce has not completely disappeared from the peninsula, however. Some towns in western Arabia continue to be centres of trade. One such is the town of Mecca, which, with its enormous black stone, regarded with religious awe by the pagan tribes, is also a centre of pilgrimage. To the north, both large empires, Roman and Persian, pay Arab rulers – the Ghazanids for Rome and the Lakhmids for Persia – to act as buffer-states between the desert nomads and the settled areas of the empires.

Next map: Arabia 750 CE

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