Temporary bazzar in the front of Damascus Gate, Jerusalem
The Damascus Gate was built in 1542 by the Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent in the surrounds of the old city of Jerusalem. This wall is the largest of all the other walls. The gate itself dates in its present form from the time of Süleyman the Magnificent (who oversaw the gate's construction between 1537 and 1542), although there had been a gate here long before the arrival of the Turks. This was the main entrance to the city as early as the time of Agrippas, who ruled in the 1st century BC. The gate was considerably enlarged during the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian. A column erected by Hadrian once stood in the square, leading to the alternative name for the gate: Bab al-Amud (Gate of the Column).
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.