Exploring Western Asia by Heinz Kohler

Exploring Western Asia (SURFING A MAGICAL INTERNET Book 14)

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File Size: 10046 KB.
Print Length: 307 pages.
Language: English.
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Exploring Western Asia (SURFING A MAGICAL INTERNET Book 14)

Some 150 years ago, the newly formed Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company rewarded loyal customers with gifts of colorful picture cards. Each card was a work of art; before long, thousands of them were circulating. Their beautiful images and associated commentary captivated people and new editions were eagerly awaited. As a group, they told fascinating stories about every conceivable aspect of life on earth and, like our internet, came to embody the sum of human knowledge. With the help of these cards, collectors could travel the globe, meet people from any country on earth and learn about their customs. They could visit lost civilizations, too, or marvel at natural and man-made wonders around the globe. They could study up on plants and animals or the evolution of commerce and transport, learn about geography and history and natural science. They could discover the secrets of agriculture, forestry and fishing or trace the origin of new inventions that were transforming industry and life in general. They could familiarize themselves with music and literature, great art and architecture, with famous men and women of all ages and, most importantly perhaps, with children’s favorite world of giants and dwarfs, elves and gnomes, riddles and fairy tales!

As a result, strange as it may sound, the company’s most important contribution, perhaps, was not to the kitchens of the world, but to the education of millions of people of all ages who could not go to school or afford books! The author’s grandmother was one of them and, many years later, when he was a child, she used her large collection of Liebig cards, as one might the modern-day internet, to satisfy his urge to find out everything about the big wide world. This fourteenth volume of the SURFING A MAGICAL INTERNET series resurrects another portion yet of grandmother’s collection. In Book 14, Exploring Western Asia, some 125 pictures illustrate her imaginary trip, long before World War I, to areas now known as Turkey and Cyprus, Syria and Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, on to the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia and Yemen now), and to what was then simply Palestine (now Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip and West Bank). And as we move from the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosporus to the mountains of Judaea and the valley of the Euphrates, we also meet the people—Turks celebrating Ramadan with a sword dance, Hebrews having fun at the Feast of Ingathering, Persians welcoming a New Year at the Temple of Holy Fire. We marvel at their musical instruments, their writing, their art, the groves of date palms and coffee trees growing on terraced farms at the very edge of the Arabian desert. And everywhere we run into history: the mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the temple of Diana at Ephesus, the hanging gardens of Semiramis at Babylon, the ruins of Persepolis, of Baalbek. More than that! Using grandmother’s time machine, we can go further back in time as well and watch Thutmose III of Egypt subject the Syrians in 1402 B.C., Cyrus giving birth to Persia in 538 B.C., King Gordius making the legendary knot and Alexander the Great cutting it in two with his sword and conquering Babylon in 331 B.C., the Greeks building a giant wooden horse and burning down Troy, Muhammad entering Mecca in 629, Caliph Omar entering Jerusalem in 638, Christian Crusaders laying siege to the city and storming it in 1099, Saladin taking it right back in 1187, and Tamerlane’s Mongols annihilating the Turks in 1402. So many stories, captivating all. So much to learn. But none of these war stories is a pretty one; after praying at Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives and worshiping at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, for example, Christian knights had no problem massacring the city’s Jews and Muslims. One can only hope that people one day will learn from history. Ignoring it certainly doesn’t help.


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