The Middle East typically refers to the region stretching from the northern part of eastern Africa all the way to Pakistan. The region is centered around the Arabian peninsula with the Persian Gulf being the critical component of the region.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

40
votes
4answers
5k views

How did Israel win the Six-Day War?

Considering Israel fought several Arab countries, which had troops largely outnumbering the Israeli, how did they manage to win the war decisively, with much fewer casualties than the Arab countries? ...
26
votes
3answers
2k views

What knowledge may have been lost at the Library of Alexandria?

Of course we'll never know for sure, but do historians have some reasonable ideas about what knowledge may have been lost at the Library of Serapeum of Alexandria, when it was destroyed by the Decree ...
16
votes
1answer
718 views

Any notable battles fought with steel vs. bronze weapons?

In answering the question Was the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age violent I found out a few facts that I hadn't expected. Namely, that the early iron weapons weren't necessarily much ...
15
votes
5answers
478 views

Recognition of Palestine?

What was Palestine before, if not a country? Could you give me some history on this? Also, the recent recognition of Palestine as a country in the UN could have far reaching implications. Are there ...
15
votes
4answers
435 views

Did Arab policymakers have plans for the Jewish population, in case of victory in 1948 War?

Presumably the Arab goal in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war was to defeat Israel. Total victory would probably mean the total control of the whole Mandatory Palestine, which at this point already contained ...
15
votes
2answers
533 views

Why did the Arabs start the 1973 War during Ramadan, and did it affect their performance?

The Arab-Israeli War in 1973, besides the Jewish Holiday, also took place during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, during which practicing Muslims observe mandatory daytime fasting. Did this affect ...
14
votes
3answers
359 views

What was Libya's form of direct democracy (Jamahiria) like in practice?

I've been following the recent events in Libya and I learned about the Green Book, which outlines Gaddafi's vision for a democratic socialism. Published in 1975, it proposed a form of direct democracy ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

How well can cavalry fight infantry?

In the Battle of Pharsalus, Caesar's infantry won by throwing their spears at the horsemen's faces. So how come in Battle of Zama and many other battles, including the battle where Khalid ibn ...
13
votes
5answers
931 views

Why did Jews not immigrate to the Muslim world?

Throughout most of history, Jews lived significantly better in the Muslim countries than in Christian ones. Moreover, after the expulsion from Spain, many Spanish Jews moved to the Muslim world (from ...
13
votes
3answers
555 views

What do I need to know about Syria's history to understand the 2011-2012 uprising?

Syria is in the news a lot lately due to the current uprising, but it's not a country that many people know much about. It can trace its history back to the origins of civilization, and as a result ...
13
votes
1answer
912 views

How prevalent was pork in Arabia before Arabs conversion to Islam?

Before Islam and its prohibition of pork, was it a commonly eaten food? Or was it already prohibited by other religions/cultures? Or was it a kind of uncommon food, which was then prohibited? We also ...
13
votes
5answers
858 views

What was the significance of changing the name of “Persia” to “Iran”?

As best as I understand it, the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 was when Persia became Iran. What was the motivation for changing the name?
12
votes
2answers
367 views

What are the reasons of the ethnical fragmentation of the Caucasus?

While investigating on Albania, I kept finding peoples I never heard of before. Notwithstanding my vast ignorance, this was systematic to the point that I started investigating. Take a look at this ...
11
votes
1answer
181 views

When and why was Seleucia ultimately abandoned?

The ancient Seleucia was founded along the Tigris river around the year 305 BC, and abandoned in 165 AD, due to the river mutating its course (Wikipedia). However in 780 AD the Catholicos ...
11
votes
1answer
247 views

How did Saudi Arabia become and remain strongly Wahhabi?

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia staunchly follow Wahhabism, a very conservative and strict brand of Islamism that probably is the major factor of Saudi's strict policy and harsh implementation of Sharia. ...
11
votes
2answers
386 views

Why didn't the Arab states industrialize?

Why didn't the states of the Arabian peninsula industrialize around the time that Europe and East Asia were? Was it simply a lack of accessible natural resources? Why not import coal?
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does the map of Jordan look as it does?

Most countries land borders are somewhat rounded, and it's easy to guess why - it's eazy to defend a rounded shape, and it's hard to defend "bulges" because it can be easily surrounded and occupied. ...
10
votes
3answers
518 views

What factors contributed to Jews moving out of the Middle East?

History shows that the Jews started moving out of the Middle East in the 1000s? Until then there were no major Jewish centers outside the Middle East (Babylon, Egypt, etc.) except for Rome. By the ...
10
votes
2answers
255 views

Is there any evidence of STD's in ancient times?

Are there any ancient texts that show or imply that their authors knew that certain diseases were spread through sexual activity? It seems like sexual contagion was recognized in the 16th century ...
9
votes
1answer
370 views

What do “zones of influence” mean, according to the Treaty of Sevres after WWI?

After its defeat in World War I, European powers partitioned the Ottoman Empire, annexing some of its territories, and setting up other territories as their "zones of influence". What do the zones of ...
8
votes
6answers
931 views

Why didn't Russia help Saddam Hussein as it is helping Syria now?

Wasn't Saddam an ally of Russia? If Russia wasn't his ally, who was his ally? Syria is looking like a strong ally of Russia as it was the case of Serbia. Russians played direct roles to save these ...
8
votes
2answers
126 views

How were the British and French Mandates in the Levantine area involved in WWII?

We all know the role of Egypt as a British protectorate at the time in WWII and the many battles fought in there. My question is, what is the role of the other British and French possessions in the ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What was President Jimmy Carter's role in the Iranian Revolution?

Iran was a friend to the USA until Carter traveled to Iran and immediately afterwards Iran faced revolution. Khomeini went to Iran from France. On November 4, 1979, an angry mob of young Islamic ...
8
votes
1answer
234 views

What is the history of the legality of polygamy in Arab states?

In what Arab states having multiple wives legal and where it is not? How this changed over time and what countries were pioneers in the reforms?
7
votes
6answers
256 views

Has there been other settlements in occupied territories in recent history?

The issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank (and other territories) is quite controversial, including its legality and its impact on the peace process. I'm wondering if there was any similar ...
7
votes
1answer
177 views

What is the source of the error regarding the origin of the number zero?

What is the source of the historical error that the zero was from the Middle East and not where it is really from, namely India?
7
votes
4answers
514 views

Who are the modern descendants of the Khazar people?

The Khazars where a people who built an empire centred North of the Caucasus Range, between the 7th and 11th centuries. They are not at all mainstream (at least in Europe), even though, defeating the ...
7
votes
1answer
277 views

What did the Phoenician sailor trader eat?

I am not a historian my self, but I like to read history, ancient history. I am reading now about Phoenician civilization. I noticed in Wikipedia : the Phoenicians were the major naval and trading ...
6
votes
5answers
440 views

What incentives are in place for American soldiers to go fight in Iraq?

I am from Brazil, a country that has not fought any war since WW2. If you join the army, go fight in Iraq and then return, what will the USA pay you? Is there a health plan for life, a pension, or ...
6
votes
1answer
740 views

Israel/Palestine: Who really attacked first in 1948?

That is when Israel declared independence? Were the Jews hungry for land and started kicking Arabs out, or did the Arabs attack first, or is it sort of a mixed bag?
6
votes
2answers
280 views

What evidence is Chomsky alluding to when he states the US is preventing a settlement between Israel & Palestine?

Chomsky in his book Neccesary Illusions, published in 1989 says: U.S. ... efforts to prevent a political settlement of the Arab–Israeli conflict over many years, readily documented, but unwelcome ...
6
votes
3answers
143 views

Military training in the Hijaz during early Islamic era

The expansion of the Islamic rule during early Islamic era was quite impressive. Before 629, Muhammad's rule was limited to one city Medina. 15 years later, at the end of Umar's rule, the Caliphate ...
5
votes
1answer
474 views

Could medieval European merchants travel through the Islamic world?

I've heard that the Islamic world was closed to European merchants in the Middle Ages. Is this true? If so, when did it close and when did it open again?
5
votes
1answer
170 views

Why did Egypt forbid entry of Israeli ships into the Suez canal in 1956?

In 1956, as a response to withdrawal of American aid for the High Aswan dam, Nasser nationalized the Suez canal giving freedom of transit through it to all countries except Israel. Why did they do ...
5
votes
0answers
59 views

How did Bedouins exercise tribal governance?

According to the Wikipedia article Bedouins travel together in groups of 1-2 family units however in the same article it mentions the presence of a Tribe who share common descent and are led by a ...
5
votes
0answers
361 views

Why has bidet use not spread to the northern countries of Europe?

As wikipedia states, the bidet is quite common in southern European countries (in Italy for example, it is found in 95% of households), in the Middle East and in East Asia. Conversely, bidets are ...
5
votes
2answers
190 views

What was the response of the general Iranian public to the modernization policies of Reza Shah?

I have been reading the fascinating study on Iran by Nikki R. Keddie, "Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution", Yale University Press, 2006. In it she outlines the dramatic modernizing policy ...
4
votes
2answers
317 views

Why didn't the European Christians take back Constantinopole?

Constantinopole was the focal point for the Fourth Crusade. The Christians lost and Constantinopole went to the Ottoman Empire. Then, the European Christians became stronger and went about colonizing ...
4
votes
1answer
903 views

Ancient and medieval canteens (water-bottles)

Nowadays, water-bottles, aka canteens, are routinely issued to soldiers who serve in warm climates. Was it the case in ancient times? In the Middle Ages? The case I have in mind is the Battle of ...
4
votes
1answer
131 views

Are there any existing foreign language teaching texts from the Ancient Near East?

The various cultures of the Ancient Near East spoke a wide array of languages and we know that there was plenty of communication between cultures. We even have a language like Akkadian that served as ...
4
votes
2answers
76 views

What is the origin of the Arabs in pre-Islamic Yemen and Arabia?

Genetically speaking, who are the pre-Islamic Arab tribes who lived in Yemen and Arabia in many centuries B.C. closest to? Where did the first Arab settlers in Yemen come from? I know that Arabs claim ...
4
votes
0answers
36 views

Asir's role in the Arab Revolt

The Arab Revolt against the Ottomans is portrayed as being primarily a Hejazi phenomenon but I have read (briefly) that Asir, a territory between Hejaz and Yemen revolted first and the Sherif of Mecca ...
4
votes
0answers
241 views

Faqra and other Roman temples in Lebanon

I recently visited a city called Faqra (located in north Lebanon - Middle East) and was astonished to find Roman temples there. Granted, Lebanon is famous for Roman temples in Baalbek and Beirut, ...
4
votes
0answers
40 views

Origin of land-lottery system

A report from 1894 describes the Musha'a land tenure system in the Arab villages of Palestine: the agricultural lands of the village are considered common property, and they are divided each year ...
3
votes
2answers
349 views

Middle east and North africa population during the high middle ages

I am looking for this information everywhere, but I can't seem to find the population of anyone else but the Europeans during the middle ages. We know that the population of the European countries ...
3
votes
1answer
128 views

Pre-islamic cultural inheritance in contemporary Iran

In contemporary Iran, what are the effect of pre-Islamic Persian cultural heritage that are not linked to islamic culture, religion and literature? In a previous question, I asked about ...
2
votes
2answers
135 views

Why didn't Turkish become an official language in former Ottoman colonies in the Middle-East and North Africa?

The main language in the Middle East is Arabic, however English and French considered as a secondary language. Especially in Algeria, Morocco and Lebanon (there are other countries..) people still use ...
2
votes
2answers
81 views

Josephus' writings about Kafr Yasif

I was reading the Wikipedia page on Kafr Yasif where it is stated that: Kafr Yasif appears in the writings of the Roman Jewish historian Josephus Flavius. without providing a reference. I googled ...
2
votes
2answers
117 views

What historical evidence do we have for the Prophet Muhammed? [closed]

In the Sahih-Bukhari, a generally accepted collection of the times and sayings of the Prophet, there are a number of reports of contacts with other nations & empires; for example: Allah's ...
1
vote
1answer
197 views

Does prohibition of polygamy always correlate well with democracy?

There are only 2 countries in the Middle East where polygamy is illegal: Israel and Turkey. There are only 2 countries in the Middle East that are true democracies: Israel and Turkey. Lebanon is ...