For thousands of years, the Mediterranean Basin has nurtured creative and powerful cultures. Alice C. Hunsberger, a professor of Islamic culture, explores key cities around the Mediterranean Sea where the interplay of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam flourished in the millennium between 500 and 1500 A.D.
The Christian reconquest of Spain takes Toledo in 1085, cementing its role as an intellectual hub for translations from Arabic to Latin, bringing Greek knowledge back to Europe; Christians (including El Cid) helped Muslims fight. The Norman conquest of Sicily and Southern Italy creates a vibrant mixture of Muslim and Christian cultures and scientific production, including the most important world map of the time. In 1492, Granada, with its Alhambra palace-fortress, is the last city in Spain to fall to the Christians, forcing Muslims and Jews to convert or leave. Many take refuge in the newly renamed Istanbul after Constantinople fell to the Muslim Ottomans in 1453.
Hunsberger shares stories of fascinating characters and provides a rich visual history of luxurious and everyday items, both ecclesiastical and secular, from textiles to scientific inventions. Throughout, she offers a view of the complex interdependencies of popes, emperors, caliphs, and kings, reflected in commercial, trading, spiritual, military, medical, literary, philosophical, and artistic pursuits.
Hunsberger has taught courses dealing with aspects of Islam at universities including Arya Mehr University of Technology in Isfahan, Iran, and Hunter College, the City University of New York. She currently teaches at the State University of New York at Old Westbury.
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