Ecce Homo Church, Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem
This church and convent is built over the site of Pontius Pilate’s residence – the Pretorium. It was here at a place called the pavement, where Jesus was condemned to death. John’s gospel records Pilate having him lead out in front of the crowd and saying: ”Behold the man!” In Latin: Ecce Homo!” One can descend below the convent and stand on the stones thought to have made up the pavement. The apse of the church is made up of one of the three arches contained in the triumphal Roman Arch which stood on this site.
Modern civilization began right here in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley. Also known as the Fertile Crescent or Mesopotamia, this is the place where, six thousand years ago, agriculture, writing and mathematics were brought into widespread use.
The term "Middle East" comes from the British navy, which used it to describe the countries on the trade route from Europe to India and China. Everything from Afghanistan to Morocco may possibly be classified as "middle eastern", depending on whom you ask -- and when.
Only a partial list of past Empires in the middle eastern territory includes Sumeria, Babylonia, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and the Roman Empire!
When northern Europe was still lurking about in slimy cold stone castles playing chess, the Middle East was enjoying the flowers of poetry, luxurious craftsmanship, music and literature. In fact, the Renaissance in Europe was partly inspired by stories brought back from the middle east by travelers along the trade route.
Strategic location, religious history and the world's largest supply of crude oil have kept the Middle East at the center of world activity for centuries. The saga continues.
Text by Steve Smith.