Theme 2: Asia & Americas

Chapter 8: Southwest Asia, Christianity & Islam

Shelley Rose


Southwest Asia (also known as the Middle East) is not only known in the ancient world for early Mesopotamian societies studied in Week 6. Over time, cities like Baghdad, Mecca, and Damascus become key entrepot cities, entwined with global trade networks that cross Southwest Asia and facilitate contact between Europe, Africa, and Asia. This chapter focuses on the origins, development, and spread of Christianity and Islam in the ancient world and their impact on human mobility.


After completing this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Identify and apply the key steps of historical thinking
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the primary sources and historical development of Islam
  • Understand the historical context of the geographic region “Southwest Asia”
  • Describe economic and social developments in the region

Section 1: Context

Read: MacCaulay-Lewis, Introduction to Islam, Five Pillars of Islam

Black Wireless Headphone Near White Hp Laptop


Frontline: From Jesus to Christ

Islam, Empire of Faith, “The Messenger, “The Awakening

Further Background Reading: Adam Silverstein, Islamic History: A Very Short Introduction

Irfan Shahid: Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century

Section 2: Early Historical Sources

Teachings of Jesus

Jesus send out his disciples

Ancient Jewish Account of Jesus

Quran Chapters 1, 47

Hadith: Traditions of the Prophet

The Pact of Umar

Al Baladhuri: The Battle of Yarmuk and After


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