Tradition & Modernization

The Power of Poetry

description: 
<p>You may think of poetry as the domain of dreamers, but in Central Asia poetry has power.</p>
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Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-samanid.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era2/850.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-samanid.png
Era: 
Age of Empire
Theme: 
Geography &amp; Destiny
Tradition &amp; Modernization
Year: 
850
BCE/CE: 
CE
Date Period: 
CE
More Information: 
<p>Arnesen, Marius. &quot;Herat Citadel.&quot; Digital image. Marius Arnesen's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/anarkistix/4111450313/in/set-72157622697812403/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>AudreyH. &quot;Amu Darya River (Oxus).&quot; Digital image. AudreyH's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2006442924/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>AudreyH. &quot;Mausoleum of Ismael Samani.&quot; Digital image. AudreyH's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2005710973/.<br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>&quot;Babur Crossing The River in Hindustan.&quot; Digital image. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/medmss/3827108424/.</p> <p>&quot;Bowl, Samanid Empire.&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=236968&amp;partId=1. <br /> &copy; The Trustees of the British Museum</p> <p>Cmbleuer. &quot;Ismoil Somoni.&quot; Digital image. Cmbleuer's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tenny77/4016749492/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>&quot;Coin, Samanid Empire.&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=899078&amp;partId=1. <br /> &copy; The Trustees of the British Museum</p> <p>&quot;Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) by Amir Khusraw Dihlavi; Verso: Amir Khusraw Presents a Book of Poetry to Ala'uddin Khalji.&quot; Digital image. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/zoomObject.cfm?ObjectId=22186.</p> <p>&quot;Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d.1020); Recto: Nushirwan's Dream; Verso: Text.&quot; Digital image. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=S1986.148.</p> <p>ISAF. &quot;100508-F07713A-041.&quot; Digital image. Isafmedia's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/4601048027/in/set-72157623922691289/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en ; ISAF photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rylan K. Albright</p> <p>ISAF. &quot;100508-F07713A-064.&quot; Digital image. Isafmedia's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/4601053339/in/set-72157623922691289/.</p> <p>ISAF photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rylan K. Albright</p> <p>Joepyrek. &quot;Amu-Darya 01.&quot; Digital image. Joepyrek's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/joepyrek/3879372758/sizes/o/in/set-72157622084600263/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/</p> <p>Mirak, Aqa. &quot;Prince Reclining, Safavid Period.&quot; Digital image. Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=S1986.300.</p> <p>&quot;Music: Jam (India), Baburnama.&quot; Digital image. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/medmss/3980244205/</p> <p>Rahimov, Foteh. &quot;Haikali Rudaki.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Haikali_Rudaki.JPG. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Alexis Menten</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>One way to understand literature is to look at the courts that produced it.</p> <p>One of the first courts that spawned a golden age in Persian literature occurred during the reign of the Samanids, in their twin capitals of Samarkand and Bukhara. And many of the court poets came from Balkh, in today&rsquo;s Afghanistan.</p> <p>Their pinnacle poets were Rudaki and Dakaki. But before them and around them, we know there were many others. We don&rsquo;t just have the stars but, of course, you have many other poets. And, to show this fluidity of borders and fluidity of culture, we see that many of the poets up in Bukhara come from Balkh, actually. So we have Abu Shakur of Balkh, Shahid of Balkh, and a woman named Rabia of Balkh.</p> <p>The role of the poet in the Persian Court was to praise the king, but also to guide him because remember a king had tyrannical powers. He could kill anyone he wanted. His command was the law. [...] So the role of the court here and the role of the poet also is to guide the king and keep him just.</p> <p>And so in the poems where they&rsquo;re praising him, what are they praising? They are praising, &ldquo;Oh, you are so kind. Oh, you are so just. Oh, you are so generous. No one has ever seen such a just and generous and kind and merciful king as you.&rdquo; So it was not just flattery. This is trying to guide them to proper behavior.</p> <p>One of the most brilliant examples of the important role of the poet in guiding the king happens in the Samanid court of Bukhara. This is one of the most glorious courts of Persian culture and literature.</p> <p>The king took his whole army throughout his lands down to Herat, and was having fun for a year. The whole army was there for a year. Another year goes by and they&rsquo;re still away from home and down in Herat, and they go hunting and they go fighting and they keep the peace of their land. And then a third year goes by and they start to grumble and springtime is coming and the heat of summer, and then another winter is coming. And four years have gone by, and they really want to go home.&nbsp;And so they go to Rudaki, the poet and then the chief poet of the Samanid Court and said, &ldquo;Please do something. Please get to him and we&rsquo;ll pay you lots of money to get us home.&rdquo;</p> <p>After breakfast one time Rudaki comes into the presence of the king and the musicians are playing and entertaining the king. It&rsquo;s a very soft, quiet morning and the poet walks in and the king nods to him, and he begins his song as a love song and he talks about the river that&rsquo;s back at home.</p> <p>Rudaki begins his poem talking about the fragrance of the river, and what&rsquo;s beautiful about the opening of the poem is that the three syllables of the three most important words rhyme. So you have &ldquo;bou&rdquo;, which is fragrance and &ldquo;drou&rdquo; which is river, and muliyan is the river. So he says, &ldquo;bou and drou and muliyan, [PH] ayad hami,&rdquo; and this ending of &ldquo;ayad hami&rdquo; means it comes on forever. It&rsquo;s always coming toward you.</p> <p>Then he goes on, &ldquo;Our friends are there and the memory of our friends is always with us and coming toward us.&rdquo; And then he says, &ldquo;Oh, Bukhara.&rdquo; The name of the home where they want to go, right. &ldquo;Oh, Bukhara, be happy. Your king is coming home. Oh, Bukhara, be happy. The moon is coming back to the heavens. Oh, Bukhara, you are such a beautiful garden. The beautiful cypress is coming back to its garden.&rdquo;</p> <p>With these images of beauty and the river and the silken sands of the Oxus calling him, it is so effective that by the end of the poem, the king jumps up without his riding boots on and jumps on his horse and starts running before the people can take down the tents and close up camp. By the time they get back to Bukhara, Rudaki is a very rich man.</p> <p>Samanid court poetry was so popular&mdash;and continues to be so&mdash;because it speaks to all the emotions that everyone feels. But the poets used this opportunity to impart philosophical lessons as well.</p> <p>There are emotional moments followed by moral and didactic sayings by the poet that see you shouldn&rsquo;t do this. See what happens when injustice rules the world. See what happens when love is not brought together.</p> <p>Some may think of poetry as the domain of dreamers, but in Central Asia, poetry has power.</p>

Golden Age of Science

description: 
<p>The Muslim world was alive with scientific inquiry.</p>
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Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-science.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era2/980.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-science.png
Era: 
Age of Empire
Theme: 
Tradition &amp; Modernization
Year: 
979
BCE/CE: 
CE
Date Period: 
CE
Asset Type: 
Trend
Caption: 
A planetary model.
More Information: 
<p>&quot;Al Biruni Afghan Stamp.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Al-Biruni_Afghan_stamp.jpg.</p> <p>Al-Biruni. &quot;Lunar Eclipse Al-Biruni.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lunar_eclipse_al-Biruni.jpg.</p> <p><em>Al-Biruni Postage Stamp of Iran</em>. Iran.</p> <p>&quot;Anatomy of a Skeleton.&quot; Digital image. Medscape. 2004. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.medscape.com/content/2004/00/46/84/468452/468452_fig.html.</p> <p>Anonymous Ottoman Artist 1577. &quot;Istambul Observatory in 1577.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Istambul_observatory_in_1577.jpg.</p> <p>Anonymous. &quot;Print (Apothecary's Shop).&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://tinyurl.com/23pcnmf. <br /> &copy; The Trustees of the British Museum</p> <p>&quot;Avicenna.&quot; Digital image. Images from the History of Medicine. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://ihm.nlm.nih.gov/luna/servlet/view/search?q=A016291.</p> <p>&quot;Avicenna Miniature.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Avicenna-miniatur.jpg.</p> <p><em>Avicenna</em>. The Countway Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.</p> <p>Beham, Sebald, and Christian Egenolph. &quot;Old Testament Illustrations.&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://tinyurl.com/2dwxdy9. &copy; The Trustees of the British Museum</p> <p>Bloom, Jonathan, and Sheila Blair. <em>Sayyid Madrasa</em>.</p> <p>&quot;Canon of Medicine.&quot; Digital image. Yale University LIbrary. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.library.yale.edu/oacis/scopa/scopa_ibnsina_ms5.html.</p> <p>Chemical Heritage Foundation. &quot;Comoros Islands Stamp Honoring Avicenna.&quot; Digital image. Chemical Heritage Foundation's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/chemheritage/3720606832/. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>Cmbleuer. &quot;Ismoil Somoni.&quot; Digital image. Cmbleuer's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tenny77/4016749492/ <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>&quot;Dastgah-e Mahur: Tasnif &quot;Mahd-e Honor&quot;&quot; Recorded April 15, 1989. In <em>Music of Iran I</em>. King Record, 1989, CD.</p> <p>&quot;A Diagram for Diagnosis by Pulse in a Copy of Ibn Al-Nafīs's Epitome (Mūjiz) of the Canon on Medicine by Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna).&quot; Digital image. Islamic Medical Manuscripts. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/arabic/EP2_EP5.html#ep3.</p> <p>&quot;A Diagram of the Heavenly Spheres in an Anonymous and Untitled Persian Treatise on Astronomy.&quot; Digital image. Islamic Medical Manuscripts. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/arabic/astronomy2.html.</p> <p>&quot;Immanuel Kant.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kant_SIL14-k001-06a.jpg.</p> <p>ISAF. &quot;090929-F-1142C-289.&quot; Digital image. Isafmedia's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/3971395395/. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Crane.</p> <p>&quot;Leukocytes.&quot; Digital image. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/index.htm.</p> <p>&quot;Liquid Transfer Demonstration.&quot; Digital image. NASA Images. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://tinyurl.com/38achvl.</p> <p>Lyons, Jonathan. <em>The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization</em>. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2009.</p> <p>Michelangelo. <em>Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: Genesis, Noah 7-9: The Flood. 1508-12</em>. Sistine Chapel, Vatican City.</p> <p>Nafi, Ibn Al. &quot;A Diagram of the Eye and Visual System.&quot; Digital image. Islamic Medical Manuscripts. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/arabic/EP2_EP5.html#ep3.</p> <p>&quot;Qotbeddin Shirazi's Treatise.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ghotb2.jpg. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/</p> <p>Shou, Hua. &quot;Expression of the Fourteen Meridians.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hua_t08.jpg.</p> <p>&quot;Woman Teaching Geometry.&quot; Wikimedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woman_teaching_geometry.jpg.</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Kate Harding</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>Today many people commonly think of science as a European development that gradually spread to other parts of the world--and conflicted with systems of faith.</p> <p>But without a doubt, the history of science is more complicated than that. Science today owes as much to Central Asia and the Middle East as it does to Europe.</p> <p>Every culture in the world has developed a system of knowledge which it has refined and reshaped over time. Those systems are based on experience in the world: people see something happen, and they draw conclusions about why and how it happened.</p> <p>Theories are tested again and again and if they remain unchallenged, then they become fact within that culture.</p> <p>But modern science as we know it today differs from these other knowledge systems in an important way. Imagine that a town is flooded and half its people are killed. Anyone would want to know why this tragedy occurred. Scientists would look at the surrounding circumstances. Was there a levee that broke? Were there unusually high rains? Was the town built too close to the water&rsquo;s edge?</p> <p>There are other questions that science wouldn&rsquo;t ask. It wouldn&rsquo;t ask, for example, why those people in that town on that day happened to be the ones who were killed. Why was Jeff killed but Jim wasn&rsquo;t? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why us?</p> <p>Today, modern science distinguishes itself from other systems of knowledge in the world not by the questions it asks, but rather by the questions it doesn&rsquo;t ask.</p> <p>Looking back at history, we see that in fact, the body of knowledge we call science has not been solely a European concern. People all over the world have always been asking questions about the physical world and have contributed their answers to today&rsquo;s wide body of knowledge.</p> <p>Around the 8th century, the Muslim world was alive with scientific inquiry. Arabs based in Iraq were beginning to explore Greek and Indian texts, allowing them to make unprecedented discoveries which would spread to Europe and the Hindu Kush.</p> <p>The Arabs based in Baghdad made quantum leaps forward, which had reverberations in Afghanistan in terms of calendar making. Again reverberations in Afghanistan in medicines and mathematics and in all of those areas through the various Islamic dynasties that ruled in Afghanistan.</p> <p>In the next century, more innovation and intellectual exchange emerged under the ruling Samanid Empire.</p> <p>Particularly the Samanids, who came to power around the 9th and 10th centuries AD and were based in central Asia brought and transmitted Arabic and Iranian innovations in all of these areas of astronomy, medicine and mathematics.</p> <p>In particular, two great thinkers born in the 10th century forever changed the history of science.</p> <p>Avicenna was born in Bukhara, which today is in Uzbekistan. This was the capital of the Samanid empire. He was one of the most important interpreters of Aristotle, and he soon developed his own system of medicine.</p> <p>His most important discovery was learning that disease was contagious, and he introduced new methods like quarantine for controlling outbreaks.</p> <p>He was a prolific writer on all topics, and his book of medical discoveries, treatments, and cures known as the Canon of Medicine, was translated into Latin and remained a medical authority throughout the West into the 19th century.</p> <p>The book was a massive 14 volumes and combined medical knowledge from India, China, Greece, and Central Asia. Today Avicenna is considered to be the founder of modern medicine.</p> <p>Living at the same time as Avicenna, another great thinker made lasting contributions to science. His name was al-Biruni and he was born in Ghazni, in what is now Afghanistan.</p> <p>Among his many achievements, he accurately calculated latitudes and longitudes using complicated trigonometry.</p> <p>Throughout their lives, Avicenna and al-Biruni engaged in fierce debates with each other about the nature of the planets, their orbits, and the scientific method. The ideas that they developed were studied across the continent for centuries.</p> <p>During this time, science was not considered to be a separate pursuit from philosophy. Avicenna and al-Biruni explored questions about the physical world and the spiritual world at the same time and wrote extensively on issues of God, philosophy, anthropology, and history.</p> <p>In other words, they asked physical questions about why a town was flooded &ndash; but they also asked metaphysical questions about why a town was flooded.</p> <p>Scientific and philosophical inquiry continued to flourish across Asia and Europe, and new ideas were exchanged through the centuries with excitement and debate.</p> <p>It has only been in the last three hundred years that science and spiritual inquiry have separated from each other so drastically. Now, science defines itself as a purely non-spiritual pursuit.</p> <p>And that has meant that science and religion have become highly specialized, each with their own adherents and their own spheres of influence.</p>

Nomads Bearing Gold

description: 
<p>Tales of nomadic warriors bearing gold entered into the annals of history&mdash;in Greek.</p>
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Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-scythians.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era1/700.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-scythians.png
Era: 
Age of Settlement
Theme: 
Identity &amp; Perception
Traces &amp; Narratives
Tradition &amp; Modernization
Year: 
700
BCE/CE: 
BCE
Date Period: 
BCE
Asset Type: 
Trend
Caption: 
Out of the dust of the bronze age collapse emerged Gold!
More Information: 
<p>Barefact. &quot;SamaraKurganR2.&quot; Digital image. <em>Wikipedia Commons</em>. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SamaraKurganR2.jpg.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Bead.&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=367604&amp;partId=1. <br /> &copy; The Trustees of the British Museum</p> <p>&quot;Belt.&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=367637&amp;partId=1. <br /> &copy; The Trustees of the British Museum</p> <p>Carole a. &quot;Steppe of Western Kazakhstan in the Early Spring.&quot; Digital image. <em>Wikipedia Commons</em>. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Steppe_of_western_Kazakhstan_in_the_early_spring.jpg. GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License</p> <p>&quot;Costume-fitting.&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=434391&amp;partId=1. <br /> &copy; The Trustees of the British Museum</p> <p>&quot;Plaque with Scythian Warriors.&quot; Digital image. The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.hermitagemuseum.org. <br /> &copy; The State Hermitage Museum</p> <p>Qeran, Baba, performer. <em>Naghne Danbora</em>. Lorraine Sakata, 1967. <br /> &copy; Radio-Television Afghanistan Archives.</p> <p>&quot;Scythian Belt Plaque.&quot; Digital image. The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. Accessed August 11, 2010. www.hermitagemuseum.org. <br /> &copy; The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg</p> <p>&quot;Scythian Plaque.&quot; Digital image. The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.hermitagemuseum.org. <br /> &copy; The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg</p> <p>&quot;Scythian Throne Arm.&quot; Digital image. The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.hermitagemuseum.org. <br /> &copy; The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg</p> <p>&quot;Vessel with Handle in Shape of Elk.&quot; Digital image. The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.hermitagemuseum.org. <br /> &copy; The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg</p> <p>Wyoming_Jackrabbit. &quot;Herodotus, Historiae.&quot; Digital image. Wyoming_Jackrabbit's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/wy_jackrabbit/4339298688/. Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Alexis Menten</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>Out of the dark age caused by the collapse of the Bronze Age civilizations, including the Oxus Civilization, groups of nomadic warriors from the north conquered Persia and the lands of Afghanistan. &nbsp;</p> <p>The Scythians were a pastoral nomadic group that originated in Eastern Central Asia, and were the first of a wave of migrations, that spread all the way from Eastern Central Asia to Europe. The Huns, for example, were part of that migration. The Scythian were pastoral nomads who moved depending on grass and water for their animals.</p> <p>The greatest Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the Scythians, and in some ways, were quite impressed by their culture. He is one of the few sources available on the Scythians, and was much captivated by the spectacular gold objects that they produced or served as patrons for.</p> <p>The art of the Scythians provides a window into their culture&mdash;the things they saw every day, and the things they valued. &nbsp;The Scythians produced spectacular gold objects, which were often in the animal-style art of the pastoral nomadic people. They buried these objects often with important leaders in in so-called quorgons, or underground tombs.&nbsp;Many of these have now been discovered in Russian, and the Ukraine, so we have an idea of the high level of craftsmanship that developed among these people, and know something about their culture because of the depiction they made.&nbsp;</p> <p>Another important nomadic group during this time were the Medes, also noted by Herodotus. Due to their skill in battle, by 600 BCE the Medes had conquered the lands stretching from the Black Sea to Afghanistan. &nbsp;The Medes are an offshoot of the Scythian peoples who migrated across Asia during the period of about 700-350 BCE. The Medes were like the Scythian: nomadic pastorialists, who came in and overwhelmed the settlements that already existed in Afghanistan, some of which derived from the Indo-Iranian invasions of the second millennium BCE.</p> <p>Like the Scythian, they wandered around. They migrated from place to place, but also very appreciative of beauty in specific objects, and contributed to artisanship in Afghanistan.</p>

The First Gated Communities

description: 
<p>The <i>qalas</i> may hide a lot, but they have also invited us in to understand a way of living that has defined this region for many millennia.</p>
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Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-qala.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era1/1600.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-qala.png
Era: 
Age of Settlement
Theme: 
Geography &amp; Destiny
Tradition &amp; Modernization
Year: 
1600
BCE/CE: 
BCE
Date Period: 
BCE
Asset Type: 
Trend
Caption: 
Walls may seem simple, but they are a sign of a complex society.
More Information: 
<p><em>Cutting Barley in Ghazni - 1920s</em>. Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>62-46</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>63-122</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>77-89</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>82-3120</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>88-38</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>A Type of House: A69-499</em>. 1969. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>A69-483</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>Qalah- a House Type: 50-28</em>. 1950. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p><em>Q-00499-24</em>. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Qeran, Baba, performer. <em>Naghne Danbora</em>. Lorraine Sakata, 1972.&nbsp;&copy; Radio-Television Afghanistan Archives.</p> <p><em>Typical Farmhouse 1920s, Afghanistan</em>. 1920s. Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA.</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Alexis Menten</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>Walls may seem simple, but actually they are an indication of a complex society. They demarcate not only space, property, and people, but also important concepts &ndash; like the difference between what is &ldquo;inside&rdquo; and what is &ldquo;outside&rdquo;; and who is one of &ldquo;us&rdquo; and who is one of &ldquo;them.&rdquo;</p> <p>As social groups form and settle, they design new ways to live together.<br /> <br /> Human structures serve a variety of purposes. They are often built to keep things out &ndash; for example, as shelter from the elements or protection from attackers. The site on which they are built is also often chosen to be close to water or other valuable resources, and in a strategic setting that can be defended from others outside the community.</p> <p>The qala was one of the earliest kinds of settlement patterns in what we now think of as Afghanistan. It was a series of attached houses with a wall surrounding these houses.</p> <p>The qala settlement pattern developed uniquely in Afghanistan because of the tensions between nomadic cultures and the sedentary. The sedentary needed the protection of the walls around the qala.&nbsp;It looks like a fortress from the outside but when you look on the inside it may have a couple of dozen families living inside the qala. So effectively it&rsquo;s a village but it&rsquo;s in one large structure.</p> <p>This is unique from other settlement patterns, in which farmhouses are built outside a village, and the villages are built outside a larger central town. In the qala, the structures of the house, village, and town would all exist inside one walled site. In this way, qala settlements can keep important things protected inside - like families and workshops.</p> <p>This type of walled structure can still be seen today, although on a much smaller scale. Similarly, houses in Afghanistan often have walls surrounding a central courtyard.</p> <p>Houses change. We know from archeology however, that the courtyard house was a very popular form throughout this entire region. It provided privacy; it provided shade; it was multi-functional. And we actually have evidence of houses going back quite far through excavations, certainly to many, many millennia B.C.</p> <p>The courtyard house traditionally is centered around a courtyard in the middle with rooms often on two sides, sometimes on four sides, to take advantage of the position of the sun. So when the sun is strong, you can go into the shade. When the sun is weak, as in the winter, the sun will penetrate into the ends of the courtyard and warm the rooms. You have communal activities like cooking often in the courtyard, and you have individual rooms for sleeping and other activities.<br /> <br /> From the street you often don&rsquo;t have any idea of what&rsquo;s inside the house. The street is anonymous, the street is blockaded. You have usually a single entrance, often separating then into men&rsquo;s and women&rsquo;s quarters, or certainly public and private quarters.<br /> <br /> You would have had a public room for entertaining, and then smaller, more private rooms, often on the other side of the courtyard for personal and private life.</p> <p>This style of architecture may seem to hide a lot, but it is actually an inviting portal into a way of living that has existed for millennia.</p>

Qanat

description: 
<p>An ingenious ancient technology that spread throughout the continents.</p>
Asset Media
Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-qanat.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era1/1200_2.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-qanat.png
Era: 
Age of Settlement
Theme: 
Geography &amp; Destiny
Tradition &amp; Modernization
Year: 
1200
BCE/CE: 
BCE
Date Period: 
BCE
Asset Type: 
Trend
More Information: 
<p>Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East. &quot;Khidad Udruh Qanat 1.&quot; Digital image. APAAME's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/apaame/4194201875/. <br /> Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>Arbob. &quot;Untitled Mouth Music.&quot; Lorraine Sakata, 1966.<br /> Paindagul mouth music recorded in Urozgan Province, Afghanistan. &copy; Sakata Music Collection</p> <p>Bailey, Samuel. &quot;Qanat Diagram.&quot; Chart. December 2, 2009. Accessed March 23, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Qanat_cross_section.svg. <br /> Edited by Asia Society. <br /> Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>49-58</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>50-60</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>60-R32-6</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>61-350</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>61-355</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>A69-483</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>A74-159</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>Andhar Pashtuns Repairing a Qanat (kharez) at Matakhan: 60-R35-4c</em>. 1960. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>Drawing Water from a Well: R15-4. 1959</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Emesik. &quot;Qanat Technology Diffusion.&quot; Chart. March 2, 2009. Accessed March 23, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Qanat_technology_diffusion.svg.<br /> Edited by Asia Society.<br /> Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en</p> <p>Huffman, Todd. &quot;Idyllic.&quot; Digital image. Todd Huffman's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/oddwick/3393017119/. Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>John, Burke. &quot;Jumrood Fort and Camp from Right Bank of the Khyber Stream, Looking towards Mohmund Hills.&quot; Digital image. British Library. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://tinyurl.com/23pqrmh.</p> <p><em>K-00313-01</em>.&nbsp;AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Morin, Monte. <em>Untitled Photograph</em>. July 15, 2007. Zabul Province, Afghanistan. Accessed March 23, 2010. http://www.stripes.com/news/afghan-tunnels-prove-tough-to-crack-1.66651.</p> <p>Ninara. &quot;IMG_2501.&quot; Digital image. Ninara's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ninara/4356073176/. <br /> Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>Ninara. &quot;IMG_2507.&quot; Digital image. Ninara's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ninara/4355331191/in/set-72157604577966229/.<br /> Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p><em>Q2-01276-28</em>. AMRC Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Spier, Brian Harrington. &quot;Oman 1973.&quot; Digital image. Brian Herrington Spier's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianharringtonspier/3088818689/. <br /> Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>Swamibu. &quot;Karez Irrigation System.&quot; Digital image. Swamibu's Flickr Photostream. Accessed August 11, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/swamibu/2100657136/.<br /> Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/deed.en</p> <p>UMCOR Afghanistan. <em>Man in Qanat</em>. UMCOR Afghanistan.</p> <p><em>Untitled</em>. January 6, 2009. Near Musa Qala, Afghanistan. By Chris Hughes.</p> <p>Xinjiang Autonomous Region Song and Dance Ensemble, performer. &quot;A Good Harvest.&quot; In <em>Instrumental Music Of The Uighurs</em>. World Music Library, 1991, CD.</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Grace Norman</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>The natural environment has always shaped human lives and societies. So, too, did humans shape the natural environment.<br /> <br /> In the Hindu Kush, one ancient invention changed the landscape forever. It was so effective that the idea spread throughout the region, and perhaps as far as the Americas centuries later.</p> <p>Most of the land in the Hindu Kush is not suitable for farming. Water is a constant and vigorous demand of a thirsty landscape trying to produce crops. Early settlers in the region figured out how to quench that thirst.</p> <p>The qanat were irrigation canals that brought water down from the mountains to the agricultural settlements that were founded in Afghanistan.</p> <p>We don&rsquo;t know exactly when the idea of qanat developed, but it must have been very early because there is a need for irrigation in most regions of Afghanistan.&nbsp;And this is a style of irrigation, a type of irrigation, particularly characteristic of Central Asia and particularly in parts of Southern and Western Afghanistan. It&rsquo;s very, very common.</p> <p>The qanat system is a unique form of irrigation in which the irrigation channels, the main ones, are actually under ground. And what they do is they dig a tunnel from the area that you want to irrigate at a shallow angle all the way up to the water table at the foothills of the mountains.</p> <p>In order to do this you need to sink shafts that look like wells, maybe every hundred meters, sometimes less so that you can pull the soil out and so you can get in and clean it.</p> <p>But what it means is that when you&rsquo;re finished you essentially have an irrigation channel that&rsquo;s tapping underground water and bringing it underground to a valley. That&rsquo;s a way to irrigate areas that have no surface water, the lack of rivers or streams.</p> <p>They&rsquo;re quite distinctive, particularly from the air. You just see these long lines of what look to be like well holes you know prairie dog holes you know crossing the landscape.</p> <p>But the capital investment as you might imagine is quite large. Also technically this is not an easy thing to do. The angle has to be right. You have to have specialists that know how to do it and you also have to have usually someone who puts up the money to have it dug in the first place.</p> <p>And then you have to have it pretty much constantly maintained over time.</p> <p>But the investment has its pay-offs.</p> <p>Afghanistan has a very demanding environment. Only about 12% of the land is cultivable. And so of that amount, even of that 12%, only 20% is dry farming; the other 80% requires water through the irrigated agriculture and qanat system.</p> <p>Just as water has flowed through the qanats, the concept, too, flowed from one people to another. Throughout history other farmers of parched lands also adopted the method.</p> <p>It appears likely that a similar development occurred in Northwest China, what is now Xinjiang, where you have the so-called kariz, which are similar to the qanat, and probably the qanat did influence the development of the kariz in Northwestern China. There is also some feeling that the qanat influenced irrigation patterns in Central Asia&ndash;that is still undetermined&ndash;but it&rsquo;s certainly possible.</p> <p>Others like it spread throughout the Hindu Kush region&ndash;and beyond to the East and West. Eventually, with Arab conquests and Spanish colonization, a descendant of the qanat found its way to the Americas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But just as humans have created this life-nourishing invention, so too, have humans found a way to destroy it. There have been recent reports that combatants have used the qanat tunnels as passage ways and for storage. Other reports claim that several have been destroyed due to armed conflict. Newer technologies, such as the water pump and large-scale dams, have found their way to Afghanistan in the last century, but with mixed success.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s unclear whether the ancient ways or new technology will win out. But just as the agricultural lands are parched, so, too, are the people in those places thirsty for solutions.</p>

Spread of Islam

description: 
<p>One hundred years after the Prophet's death, Islam spread quickly&mdash;and it took hold permanently.</p>
Asset Media
Media Type: 
Video
Video Still: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/still-islam.png
Video URL: 
http://media.asiasociety.org/education/afghanistan/era2/800.mp4
Video Thumbnail: 
http://cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/sites/cms.afghanistan.asiasociety.org/files/thumb-islam.png
Era: 
Age of Empire
Theme: 
Identity &amp; Perception
Tradition &amp; Modernization
Year: 
800
BCE/CE: 
CE
Date Period: 
CE
Asset Type: 
Trend
More Information: 
<p>Ali. &quot;Masjid Nabawi. Medina, Saudi Arabia.&quot; Digital image. Wikipedia Commons. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Masjid_Nabawi._Medina,_Saudi_Arabia.jpg. Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/deed.en</p> <p>&quot;Babur and His Warriors Visiting the Hindu Temple Gurh Kattri (Kūr Katrī) in Bigram.&quot; Digital image. Walters Art Museum. January 11, 2010. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/medmss/4266569149/.</p> <p>&quot;Battle on Horseback between Rustam and His Son Sohrab, Not Recognizing Each Other.&quot; Digital image. The British Museum. Accessed August 21, 2010.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>61-157-C</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>66-N-72</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. <em>66-N-73</em>. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Dupree, Nancy. Anahita. 1969. Dupree Collection, Williams Afghan Media Project, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.</p> <p>Mithras and the Bull. Mithraeum of Marino, Marino, Italy.</p> <p>Rashid Al-Din. &quot;Conversion of Ghazan to Islam.&quot; Digital image. Asia Society. August 19, 2008. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://asiasociety.org/countries-history/traditions/mongol-illustrated-manuscripts.</p> <p>Rattray, Lieutenant James. <em>Mosque and Tomb of the Emperor Soolta Mahmood of Ghuznee</em>. 1848. British Library, London. http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/other/019xzz000000562u00010000.html Courtesy of the British Library Board</p> <p>Schastok, Horst B. <em>No Gumbad Mosque</em>. Documentation Center, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, Fine Arts Library, Harvard College Library, Cambridge, MA.</p> <p>&quot;Seated Buddha.&quot; Digital image. Virtual Collection of Masterpieces. Accessed August 21, 2010. http://masterpieces.asemus.museum/masterpieces.aspx. <br /> Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/</p> <p>Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (Mahmud Ghaznawi). Copied from Old School Textbook of Afghanistan, Unknown.</p> <p>Ustad Mohammad Omar. <em>Untitled performance.</em>&nbsp;Radio-Television Afghanistan Archive.</p> <hr /> <p>Producer: Alexis Menten</p>
Video Transcript: 
<p>Many of the world&rsquo;s great religions have a history in Afghanistan. The traders, travelers, and conquerors who came to the region brought not only new goods and new ideas, but also new beliefs and new faith. But history doesn&rsquo;t change overnight.</p> <p>When we&rsquo;re looking at the Islamic conquest of Central Asia and Afghanistan there&rsquo;s usually an assumption that if we say a battle was fought at this time and the Arabs won then everyone became Muslim. But if we actually look, and the records are quite clear about this, it was often many generations before they became Islamic.</p> <p>When Iran was converted to Islam, that had an impact on Afghanistan. The people in Afghanistan did not at that point convert immediately to Islam. They retained their traditional language and did not necessarily adopt Arabic as their basic language.</p> <p>In the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries, Afghanistan religiously was composed of a whole variety of different religious practices and religious beliefs. Zoroastrianism, Mythriism, to a limited extent Buddhism, and to a limited extent Islam.</p> <p>This whole region became a place where people fled. So we had Nestorian Christians who had fled from Syria and were living in this part of the world. We certainly had various Indian sects that came up to this part of the world. Hindus lived here. And what makes Afghanistan such a melting pot &ndash; and why art is so interesting &ndash; is it shows us many of these different ideas coming together.</p> <p>Muslims came to Afghanistan, individually or in small numbers, beginning in the eighth century. But only in the tenth century with Mahmud of Ghazna is the area really conquered in the name of Islam, and many people start to convert.</p> <p>We&rsquo;re often not clear about how long it takes a political change to turn itself into a cultural change or a religious change. These things are often describe retrospectively and may have been much less clear at the time they actually happened.</p> <p>The turning points of history do not always have immediate and widespread repercussions. Although Islam would take root and become the primary religion of Afghanistan today, the diverse religious traditions of this crossroads region persisted alongside the new faith for many centuries.</p>
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