Medieval monastery destroyed by Islamic State

Saint Elijah's Monastery photographed in 2005. It has now been completely destroyed by IS

Saint Elijah’s Monastery – the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq, has been completely destroyed by forces from the Islamic State (IS), according to a report from the Associated Press.

Medieval Hangover Cures

A drunk monk? This might be St. Arnulf of Metz (582 -640), the unofficial patron saint of beer.

Here are a few hangover cures from days gone by, because people who partied like it was 1399 also needed a little help the morning after.

From Raiders to Traders: The Viking-Arab Trade Exchange

Viking-Age silver coins discovered in Scandinavia - photo by Leroy Andersen / Flickr

In their quest for silver, the Vikings discovered and accessed valuable trade routes to Constantinople that led to an extensive trade exchange with the Arab world. Seizing upon the opportunity to enrich themselves, the Vikings came into contact with Arabic wealth and treasures through their raids, and soon realized the potential of a peaceful trade exchange.

The Mythical Ghoul in Arabic Culture

"Amine Discovered with the Goule", from the story of Sidi Nouman, of the One Thousand and One Nights.

Though the ghoul has origins as old as the Mesopotamian civilization, Arabs were largely responsible for popularizing it. Because Islam incorporated this being in its doctrine, the ghoul remained a source of fear and mystery in the Arab culture.

‘Like the Wick of the Lamp, Like the Silkworm They Are’: Stupid Schoolteachers in Classical Arabic Literary Sources

Teaching - photo by Wolfgang Sauber / Wikipedia

That schoolteachers were incorrigibly fatuous was certainly a common perception, widespread in adab literature of the ʿAbbāsid period and in later sources too. Indeed, the question of their stupidity, or rather, the stereotype of ‘the stupid schoolteacher’ was a topos which several classical and post-classical writers were fond of using, along with others such as ‘the dull person’, ‘the smart sponger’ and ‘the ridiculous bedouin’.

Genoa: The cog in the new medieval economy

View of Genoa by Christoforo de Grassi (after a drawing of 1481)

Journalist and author Nicholas Walton writes about medieval Genoa’s economy, trade and role in the Black Death. Walton recently published a book on Genoese history entitled, “Genoa: La Superba”

Is it better to be right or left-handed? The view from the 9th century

left handed - photo by Derek Bruff / Flickr

Was it really bad to be left-handed in the Middle Ages? Or was it better than being right-handed? The 9th century writer of all things unusual, al-Jahiz, weighs in.

Metaphor in the Medieval Middle East

medieval arabic scholars

Through a study of metaphor in medieval Arabic literature, Stanford comparative literature professor Alexander Key finds that the Arab world had a head start on the West when it comes to understanding how language works.

A Mongol Princess Making hajj: The Biography of El Qutlugh Daughter of Abagha Ilkhan (r. 1265–82)

Mongols Travelling - 14th century image of Illustration of Rashid-ad-Din's Gami' at-tawarih

his study examines in detail the biographical entry of an Ilkhanid (the Mongol state centred in Iran) princess, El Qutlugh Khatun daughter of Abagha Ilkhan (r. 1265–82), in the biographical dictionaries of the Mamluk author Khalil b. Aybeg al-Safadi (d. 1363)

Melancholia in medieval Persian literature: The view of Hidayat of Al-Akhawayni

Melancholia by Albrecht Dürer

This paper aims to review Al-Akhawayni’s 10th century knowledge on melancholia which can represent the early concept of this disorder in the Near East.

Two Rabbinic Views of Christianity in the Middle Ages

Picture of Medieval Jews

In the sessions of our section over the past decade, I introduced a significant distinction between two rabbinic attitudes in the Mediterranean countries during the Middle Ages of 12th and 13th centuries as to their view of Christianity.

Like Father Like Son? Henry III’s Tomb at Westminster Abbey as a Case Study in Late Thirteenth-Century English Kingship

The tomb of Henry III, Westminster Abbey, from the chapel of St

Who was this king, and who made this grand monument to him? An inscription around the edge of the upper tomb chest identifies its occupant as Henry III, the English king who died in 1272 after a reign of fifty-six years.

Sword and Shield of God: Byzantine Strategy and Tactics Under Heraclius During the Last Persian War and First Arab War

Battle between Heraclius' army and Persians under Khosrau II. Fresco by Piero della Francesca, ca. 1452

Only Heraclius could have wielded these forces effectively against his foes to achieve victory; with any other Byzantine commander these revolutionary tactics would have been monumentally difficult if not unworkable.

A Medieval Handbag fit for an Ilkhan Queen

medieval hand bag

This handbag (or shoulder bag) was made in the Iraqi city of Mosul between 1300 and 1330.

Was a Woman the first editor of the Qur’an?


A new study suggests that Hafsa bint ‘Umar, one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, had a crucial role in editing and codifying the Qur’an and was likely the one of the first people to have kept a written version of the religious text.

Whose secret Intent?

Eurasian Influences On Yuan China Cross-Cultural Transmissions in the 13th and 14th Centuries

Hülegü Khan’s arrival on the south bank of the Amu Darya, or the Oxus, in the 1250s was the second time that a large Mongol-led military force had landed south of the great river poised to advance on the Iranian plateau.

A fascinating musical instrument

Medieval Ud

A fascinating musical instrument Saadat Abdullayeva IRS Heritage: No.9 (2012) Abstract Among the Eastern musical instruments, the UD has a very interesting history of many centuries, which is proved by archeological finds and manuscripts. Thus, according to  terra cottas (9-10 cm fired statuettes with a flat back and embossed face, most of which date back […]

How did Christians view the Rise of Islam?

Dome of the Rock depicted in the 19th century

When Muslim armies came out of Arabia in the 630s and 640s, Christian writers of the time saw it a sign that the Apocalypse had come.

How to Invade Iraq: The Mongol Way

Mongol siege of Bagdad in 1258

‘Even a brief mention of it would be terrible to hear – how much worse its recapitulation in detail! Things happened which I shall not record, imagine them and do not ask for a description!’

The Dragon in Medieval East Christian and Islamic Art

The Dragon in Medieval East Christian and Islamic Art

The aim of this research is to contextualise and chart, as far as possible, the complex iconography of the dragon in the medieval Islamic world, by interrogating the many factors, contexts and contingencies that helped to shape and transform it.

Neonatal care and breastfeeding in medieval Persian literature

Mother breastfeeding a baby in the presence of the father. Detail from the sarcophagus of Marcus Cornelius Statius, who died as a young child. Marble, Roman artwork, ca. 150 AD.  Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen

The present article is a review of the Jorjani’s teachings on the neonatal care, breastfeeding, weaning and teething along with comparisons between the Treasure and modern medicine in this regard.

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