Middle East 979 CE

The Islamic Caliphate is beginning to fragment.

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What is happening in Middle East in 979CE

Fragmentation

Very soon after 750 Baghdad replaced Damascus as the capital of the Caliphate shifting the center of gravity of the Muslim world eastward. Shortly after this, different provinces began to fall away from Baghdad’s political control: Spain, North Africa, Egypt, Syria, western India and much of Iran. By this date, the Caliphs have ceased to exercise much political power, even in Iraq. Nevertheless, the Caliphate continues to exist in the minds of Muslims: it is simply that the caliphs have increasingly taken on a more symbolic role as the focus of their religious loyalties.

Cultural life

The Muslim world is home to a flourishing, and highly sophisticated, cultural life. Technological and scientific developments have come in from China (for example paper) and India (the decimal system), which Arab scholars add to Greek thought (medicine and philosophy, amongst much else) plus major contributions of their own (including in optics, algebra and philosophy). These different strands mingle and synthesize to form a massive new body of knowledge, almost certainly the most advanced in the world at that time. This will in due course be passed westward to Europe, where it will form the basis for further advance.

Asia Minor

The fragmentation of political power within the Islamic world allows the Byzantine Empire to continue to hold on to Asia Minor.

Next map: Middle East 1215

 

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The Islamic Caliphate

The Byzantine Empire

 

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