Posts in Middle East

Born from the ruins of a 5,000-year-old dynasty, this young woman outsmarted the most powerful men of her age to become the most famous queen in history!

Egypt was in chaos. The corrupt Pharaoh, Ptolemy XII, known for his love of wine and music, was hated by his people. They protested increasingly high taxation, which Ptolemy XII exacted to pay tribute -- a sign of respect, submission, and/or allegiance -- to then Roman Emperor Pompey. The cost of living was high enough! So they overthrew Ptolemy in 58 B.C.E., forcing him into exile. He fled to Rome, taking his teenage daughter, Cleopatra, with him.

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In an era when men believed women weren't fit for war or politics, Zenobia nearly brought the Roman Empire to its knees.

It was 240 A.D. The Roman Empire, in power now for almost three centuries, stretched from what is modern-day Iraq, throughout the Middle East, northward into Europe and across the Channel into Britain. Syria was one of many provinces that the Romans annexed, ruled, and taxed...heavily.

This was the world Zenobia of Palmyra was born into. Though the daughter of a family of shepherds, she was allowed an education. She grew up speaking four languages, including Greek and Latin as well as the languages of her people. 

Outside school, she learned how to ride horses and command her family's flocks. All these skills would serve her well in the years to come.

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Lawrence of Arabia

Have you ever wondered how far your curiosity for history can take you?

T.E. Lawrence's took him on a whirlwind adventure.

As a boy, Thomas Edward Lawrence was a dreamy eccentric. Born in 1888, he spent his teenage years bicycling around medieval churches to copy engravings. Caught in the grips of the Industrial Revolution, the Victorian England of his childhood was fixated on progress. Yet he looked back in time. He studied archeology at Oxford, then fled England for Syria at the age of 22 to learn Arabic.

No one ever dreamed this gawky boy from Wales would become one of the most famous strategists and diplomats in British history.


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Hypatia of Alexandria

What would you give for the propagation of knowledge, reason, and truth?

Hypatia of Alexandria gave her life.

Hypatia was born in the latter half of the 4th C. C.E. – historians estimate between 355 and 370 – in Alexandria, Egypt. At this time, Alexandria was a center of culture and learning. It was also a place of extreme religious unrest: Christianity was on the rise and as it spread its tentacles, dissenters were severely punished. Hypatia has come to symbolize this conflict. Her story ends when she becomes a martyr in history’s endless struggle between reason and faith.

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