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Destruction of Palmyra

October 5 2015

Two pieces at on Palmyra and more: The dissolution of past and present Instead of freedom, annihilation. News timeline on Palmyra (Reuters). Palmyra in this blog. Daesh tortured and on August 18 publicly beheaded Palmyra’s head of antiquities, the 81-year-old Khaled al-Asaad, perhaps because he had refused to reveal the location of hidden treasures. Guardian, […]

Fall of Palmyra

May 20 2015

Guardian. Death among the ruins: a major battle was fought between the British and Ottoman empires in 1915 at Ctesiphon.

Petra and Palmyra

November 16 2008

Petra and Palmyra each rose in turn to greatness by finding places for themselves in the interstices between the dominions of mutually hostile Great Powers whose hostility was too great to admit of their coming to a direct understanding with each other, while it was not great enough to drive them into forgoing the advantage […]

The failure of Heraclius

December 30 2009

Heraclius spent twenty-four years out of a reign of thirty-one on the desperate enterprise of trying by force of arms to prevent the Syriac provinces of the Hellenic universal state from shaking off at last an incubus of Hellenic domination which had been weighing upon them ever since the overthrow of the Achaemenian Empire by […]

Volney and Gibbon

June 29 2009

We have already taken note of the […] personal experience that inspired Gibbon’s younger contemporary Volney (vivebat A.D. 1757-1820) to write Les Ruines, ou Méditations sur les Révolutions des Empires; and, though Volney’s tale of a visitation that overtook him while he sat musing on a fallen column among the ruins of Palmyra [footnote: See […]

In Damascus 2

March 9 2009

In Damascus Syria participates less in global culture and international systems than most places do and gets criticised for this. But Damascus is still itself. I am not calling it “quaint”. I used the word “modern” deliberately at one point in the last post, but that was about certain people. The city needs serious investment, […]

The Lure of the East

June 8 2008

This exhibition of British orientalists, with a banal name, runs at Tate Britain until August 31. Such was the influence of Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) that it might not have been staged ten years ago. The blurb of Ibn Warraq’s sweeping rebuttal of Said, Defending the West (2007), tells us that “Said’s intellectual successors have […]

Seepage into Arabia

September 9 2007

Since the domestication of the Arabian camel, nearly 2,000 years before Muhammad’s day, Arabia had been traversible, and ideas and institutions had been seeping into the peninsula from the Fertile Crescent that adjoins it on the north. The effect of this infiltration had been cumulative, and, by Muhammad’s time, the accumulated charge of spiritual force […]

Babur’s horizon

May 15 2007

Babur hunting rhinoceros: painting from the Baburnama, manuscript at the National Museum, New Delhi, illustrated in AS Kothari, BF Chhapgar, editors, Treasures of Natural History, Mumbai, Bombay Natural History Society and OUP, 2005; Wikimedia Commons We have met Babur in a post on Delhi. He was the prince of the moribund Timurid empire who, at […]


May 2 2007

[In progress] Year COUNTRY DATE SUMMARY IF ANY Source: Date More Where there are quotation marks, quotations from a book are exact, except sometimes as to date and layout conventions. Post on the travel books. ~~~ 1910 SWEDEN William H McNeill, Arnold J. Toynbee, A Life, New York, OUP, 1989: Summer (aet 21) Stockholm with his […]

List of posts

January 21 2007

North African nihilism Facebook and Amazon double standards Islam The killing ~~~ Tunis-Nefta Uncharted Destruction of Palmyra Brown Uncle Toms They make a desert and they call it Islam Dwellers in the roaring waste Dances of the little crocodile The essential John Julius Norwich Simenon 192 The stones of Anatolia Slavs as slaves Patriarch and Pope The fancy price ~~~ The […]