30 April, 2009

Ideas for Final Document/Masters' Thesis

After all of the studying I have done on the Middle East, during my undergraduate program at Michigan State University and now during my graduate program, I am finding myself more and more with the Caliphates (another way of saying dynastic rule). I especially like the time when there was a great transition in the Middle East from pre-Islam to the first couple of Caliphates: the Umayyads and the 'Abbasids.

One of my ideas for my final document is an historiography of the two caliphates, concentrating on their religious influence as well as the arts and architecture of the caliphs. Last semester I wrote a paper on the historical significance of the Arabian Nights and that really sparked my interest to lean more towards the arts and letters of the Middle East. So that's one idea.

As you can see by the maps, the Umayyad Caliphate covers a vast territory from the East at Damascus to the West at Cordova (al-Andalus). This territory is divided into two separate Caliphates as the Umayyads were pushed out of Damascus by the 'Abbasids and relocated (those that survived - which were very few) in what would become their second caliphate at Cordova. The 'Abbasids, on the other hand, occupied territory primarily in the vicinity of Iraq, Syria, and parts of neighboring areas. Their capital was moved to Baghdad and remained there for much of the time they ruled.

Another idea is to concentrate only on one of the caliphates: the 'Abbasids. This would allow me to be more detailed about the glory of their caliphate and especially of Baghdad. I am really interested in the history of Iraq before and during the middle ages, so this is another avenue I may pursue.

Of course, there is so much to research on this time period and so many possibilities for my final document. One thing that will remain unchanged is that I intend to do an historiography in the form of a more traditional thesis. And as always, I am open to suggestions on other possible topics.


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