History Podcasts

The Rise and Fall of Shaman Queens of the East

The Rise and Fall of Shaman Queens of the East

The word ‘shaman’ conjures up images of Native American medicine men smoking peace pipes, dancing in a trance to drumming around a fire or African sangomas, adorned with leopard skin, throwing dollose bones and shells to divine and drinking beer from calabash. This is far removed from the concept of sophisticated, regal shaman queens of the East in China, Japan and Korea who used their talent and connection with the ‘Otherworld’ to the benefit of their kingdoms and populace. Later this feminine healing power was suppressed and persecuted by religious men, who regarded it as a threat to their faith.

Mongol Darkhad Shaman just starting Shamanic ritual at Khovsgol lake ( Munkhbayar.B / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Woman Shamans on a Global Platform

Worldwide, women have been at the forefront of this field of spiritual healing. In some cultures, they even became leaders. From the Buryats in Mongolia to the Bwiti religion in Gabon, the first shaman was in fact a woman. Other examples of the surviving shamans include Machi (a traditional healer and religious leader) of the Mapuche in southern Chile and the Babaylan and Catalonan of the Philippines. Images and historical descriptions show women in many different roles such as invokers, healers, herbalists, oracles and diviners. They also performed as ecstatic dancers, shapeshifters and priestesses of the ancestors.

Himba woman of Namibia (Yves Picq / CC BY-SA 1.0)

In the practice of Katjambia in Namibia, a Himba medicine woman absorbs the negative energies into her own body before returning them to the sacred fire of her ancestors, who then release those negative energies. Similar descriptions were recorded by Greco-Roman visitors to Anatolia. At Castabala, in Cappadocia, the priestesses of Artemis Perasia, walked barefoot through a furnace of hot charcoal without experiencing any harm. The healing power of women shamans was occasionally stated in mythology as being able to restore life to the dead. Medea of Colchis revived a dead ram by putting it into a cauldron with potent herbs and incantations. The Nostoi (Returns), a lost epic of ancient Greek literature, tells of Medea who rejuvenated Jason’s father Aeson in a cauldron.

The Kuo Yu, (Guoyu), BC 5-4 is a Ming-era edition of a historical work written in the 19th century. Exact Date: The Lung- Qing--era keng-shen 庚申 year, ie 1570.

Why the Ottoman Empire rose and fell

One of the greatest empires in history, the Ottomans reigned for more than 600 years before crumbling on the battlefields of World War I.

Known as one of history’s most powerful empires, the Ottoman Empire grew from a Turkish stronghold in Anatolia into a vast state that at its peak reached as far north as Vienna, Austria, as far east as the Persian Gulf, as far west as Algeria, and as far south as Yemen. The empire’s success lay in its centralized structure as much as its territory: Control of some of the world’s most lucrative trade routes led to vast wealth, while its impeccably organized military system led to military might. But all empires that rise must fall, and six centuries after the Ottoman Empire emerged on the battlefields of Anatolia, it fell apart catastrophically in the theater of World War I.

Osman I, a leader of a nomadic Turkic tribe from Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), began conquering the region in the late 13th century by launching raids against the weakening Christian Byzantine Empire. Around 1299, he declared himself supreme leader of Asia Minor, and his successors expanded farther and farther into Byzantine territory with the help of foreign mercenaries.

In 1453, Osman’s descendants, now known as the Ottomans, finally brought the Byzantine Empire to its knees when they captured the seemingly unconquerable city of Constantinople. The city named for Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, then also became known as Istanbul (a version of stin polis, Greek for “in the city” or “to the city.”

Now a dynastic empire with Istanbul as its capital, the Ottoman Empire continued to expand across the Balkans, the Middle East, and North Africa. Though it was a dynasty, only one role—that of the supreme ruler, or sultan—was hereditary. The rest of the Ottoman Empire’s elite had to earn their positions regardless of birth.

Under the reign of Süleiman the Magnificent, whose 16th-century lifetime represented the peak of the Ottomans’ power and influence, the arts flourished, technology and architecture reached new heights, and the empire generally enjoyed peace, religious tolerance, and economic and political stability. But the imperial court left casualties behind, too: female slaves forced into sexual slavery as concubines male slaves expected to provide military and domestic labor and brothers of sultans, many of whom were killed or, later, imprisoned to protect the sultan from political challenges.

At its height, the Ottoman Empire was a real player in European politics and was home to more Christians than Muslims. But in the 17th century, it began to lose its stronghold. Until then, there had always been new territory to conquer and new lands to exploit, but after the empire failed to conquer Vienna for a second time in 1683, it began to weaken.

Political intrigue within the sultanate, strengthening of European powers, economic competition because of new trade routes, and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution all destabilized the once peerless empire. By the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was derisively called the “sick man of Europe” for its dwindling territory, economic decline, and increasing dependence on the rest of Europe.

It would take a world war to end the Ottoman Empire for good. Already weakened beyond recognition, Sultan Abdul Hamid II briefly flirted with the idea of constitutional monarchy before changing course in the late 1870s. In 1908, the reform-minded Young Turks staged a full-fledged revolt and restored the constitution.

The Young Turks who now ruled the Ottoman Empire wanted to strengthen it, spooking its Balkan neighbors. The Balkan Wars that followed resulted in the loss of 33 percent of the empire’s remaining territory and up to 20 percent of its population.

As World War I loomed, the Ottoman Empire entered into a secret alliance with Germany. The war that followed was disastrous. More than two thirds of the Ottoman military became casualties during World War I, and up to 3 million civilians died. Among them were around 1.5 million Armenians who were wiped out in massacres and in death marches during their expulsion from Ottoman territory. In 1922, Turkish nationalists abolished the sultanate, bringing an end to what was once of history’s most successful empires.

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'Goyim who love brisket': Fundraiser for refugees at Muslim-owned Jewish deli is quintessentially New York

What difference does it make if its called Davids or Daouds? Riyadh Gazali, owner of Davids Brisket House, asks half-jokingly as he leans over a meat slicer to make a corned beef sandwich. We both see him as a messenger of the same God, we both see him as a descendant of Abraham, and anyway we both believe in monotheism.

As he talks, the slices of meat fall from either side of the machine. Slicing is the most important part of the sandwich, he explains. The slices have to be thin and tender, the sandwich has that feel when you bite into it, like a real Jewish deli sandwich is supposed to be.

He finishes slicing the meat, a little over 200 grams of it, and lays it atop a slice of dark bread. Then he spreads a thin layer of mustard, a slice of tomato, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and closes the sandwich, not forgetting, of course, to serve it with two sour dill pickle halves, a small basket of fries and a side of coleslaw. This is what traditional Jewish food looks like, he says proudly. This is what I sell to my customers. Quality, authentic Jewish food like Jews have eaten for years, only that here its not kosher. Besides, Muslims dont eat pastrami and corned beef and smoked turkey. You really think I should call this place Mohammeds Brisket House?

Few foods are more closely associated with New York Jewish cuisine than brisket, which made its way to the United States from Eastern Europe starting in the mid-19th century, along with an entire culture of traditional Jewish food including kneidlach, gefilte fish and schnitzel.

Gazalis family came to America from Yemen in 1985. The deli, opened by a local Jew 20 years earlier, was one of dozens of kosher Jewish delis in the area. In 1970, Gazalis uncle bought the place together with a Yemenite Jewish partner. Gazali, 40, came into the picture when he bought the deli six years ago and became the sole owner. Its a good business, unique, that specializes in a kind of food you dont find in too many other places around here, he says.

Customers wait in line to order from A Taste of Katz's deli inside DeKalb Market Hall at City Point in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Bloomberg />Diners enjoy eating at Katz's Delicatessen in New York. Seth Wenig / AP

Like many of the residents of this central Brooklyn neighborhood, nearly all of Gazalis customers are African American. There arent many Jews left in the area. This place used to be full of Jews, he says. Mezuzot can still be seen in the doorways of some local businesses. But the Jews who once lived here, many of them ultra-Orthodox, have since moved on to other neighborhoods, like Williamsburg to the north and Crown Heights to the south. I have a few Jewish customers, he says. Folks who love the taste, who miss the traditional food and dont care as much about the kashrut. But not too many.

Pizza instead of matza balls

The saga of Davids Brisket House is part of a larger story of the disappearance or acclimatization of the rich culinary culture that European Jews brought to America. According to the New York Times, in the 1930s New York had more than 1,500 Jewish delis. Today there are about 20. In that period nearly a century ago, the Jewish deli was like the pulse of the American Jewish community, a place that gave hundreds of thousands of new immigrants a sense of belonging in the midst of the huge, alien metropolis.

Nowadays, it seems like there are pizzerias or hot dog stands on every corner, but back then the deli was the eatery most associated with New York. They proliferated especially on Manhattans Lower East Side, the hub of mid-20th-century Jewish life in the city. At one time, an estimated 750 delis and 200 kosher butchers could be found in the area. Since then, the Jews largely migrated northward to more prosperous parts of Manhattan, and the kosher delis and butchers left the neighborhood too. Many closed, some migrated north as well.

In recent years, some new delis have been opening up around the city. Cultivating a chic, youthful vibe, they seek to attract a younger clientele while restoring some of brisket and pastramis lost glory. The design of these places is ultra-modern, as far as can be from the traditional deli. You wont find pictures of comedian Jackie Mason on the wall, or of Woody Allen. Theres nothing Jewish about the music, service is swift, and aside from the sour pickles, there might not be anything kosher there either.

Dr. Ted Merwin, a Jewish Studies professor at Dickinson College and author of Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli, describes the situation this way: There is sort of a weird dual process going on, you have delis that have been open all over the country in recent years, certainly in the last four or five years. There had been a lot of stuff in the media about the resurgence of the Jewish deli, delis are starting to incorporate all kinds of 21st-century values, more involved with sustainability, with organic ingredients, with international combinations of Jewish and Japanese food, all the different food trends, and at the same time you have old and famous Jewish delis that are closing, so its hard to say in which direction the Jewish deli is going.

The Rise and Fall of Public Housing in NYC

“Tear down the old, build up the new. Down with rotten antiquated rat holes. Down with hovels, down with disease, down with firetraps, let in the sun, let in the sky, a new day is dawning, a new life, a new America.”
—Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, touting slum clearance and the construction of public housing projects in New York City, 1936

In 1935, the first public housing complex in New York, prosaically christened First Houses, (landmarked since 1974) on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, offered 122 apartments featuring oak wood floors and brass fixtures. The rent, adjusted to each family’s monthly income, ranged from five to seven dollars. The recently formed New York City Housing Authority—the agency charged with the design, construction, and administration of this and future housing developments across the city—stopped accepting applications when their number went north of three thousand.

As of 2012, according to figures compiled by Mark Jacobson for New York Magazine, the NYCHA oversaw 334 projects, 2602 buildings, nearly 180,000 apartments, and 400,000 to 600,000 tenants (the wide range a result of the impossibility of tallying the number of off-lease tenants). In Jacobson’s words, “If Nychaland was a city unto itself, it would be the 21st most populous in the U.S., bigger than Boston or Seattle, twice the size of Cincinnati.”
And in defiance of their current hell-hole reputation, the waiting list for apartments stood, in that year, at 160,000 families.

In the beginning it seemed like a good idea.

When the NYCHA was established in 1934, at roughly the midpoint of the Depression, a great number of working-class people were still living in housing that had been described, fifty years earlier, as dangerously decrepit, including a swath of the Lower East Side known as the “Lung Blocks,” notorious for their transcendently high rates of tuberculosis, diphtheria, and cholera.

From the beginning “the projects,” as they came to be known, were never envisioned as havens for the truly hopeless and disenfranchised.
The idea was to provide a living environment designed to improve the quality of life of people who had already exhibited, in their applications and interviews, a desire to improve.
One needed to be steadily employed. Family savings and previous rent habits were taken into consideration. Social background. There were income floors and ceilings.
No prospective tenant would carry the slum like an infectious disease inside these towers.
By the late 1940s the NYCHA had both raised the minimum income requirements and established a twenty-one-point non-desirability template for eviction, including single motherhood, poor housekeeping, an irregular work history, and “lack of furniture.”
And by the late 1940s the projects seemed to be working for some. In 1947, 2770 families were evicted for making over $3,000, that year’s income ceiling.
From 1935 until the end of World War II, public housing, idealistic in concept, paternalistically overseen, and architecturally innovative, could be considered to have been in its youth.
And then Johnnie came marching home…

In 1947, with Robert Moses riding the bulldozer, the NYCHA announced the construction of fifteen new developments that would accommodate sixty thousand new tenants.
One of these was the Parkside Houses, formerly eleven acres of granite outcropping in the north Bronx. The blasting commenced in ’48.
Three years later, in the spring of 1951, the first tenants, the Originals, began to move in. I would enter as a two-year-old and live there until college took me upstate in 1967.
For many in this postwar wave of newcomers, the move to the new projects was just as much about seeking decent affordable housing as it was about finding any housing at all.

In the years immediately after the war, returning GIs married in record-breaking numbers only to discover that the city’s available housing stock was borderline nonexistent, forcing many of them to live in crapulous overpriced living quarters that they could barely afford or, in the case of my own mother and father, to move in with their parents or in-laws, their home on earth reduced to a childhood bedroom, cramped common space, unasked-for personality clashes, and an unbearable lack of privacy.
And then came the first baby…
And so, when Parkside finally opened in ’51, those whose applications had been accepted grabbed the kid and took off running as if they were escaping from behind the Iron Curtain.
For these working-class children raised in tenements and aging apartment buildings, Parkside, with its relatively roomy two-bedroom affordables, its landscaped gardens and playgrounds and communal benches, wasn’t only a new beginning, it was a first beginning, and mingled with the tang of fresh paint was an air of optimism, of gratitude.
They were on their way.
They could finally breathe.
They could finally concentrate.

This was the beginning of public housing’s golden age. And it would last for roughly fifteen years.
Similarly résuméd couples in their mid- to late twenties found each other effortlessly, quickly forming tightly knit cliques. The men were postal workers, chauffeurs, garment factory foremen, institutional cafeteria managers, cabbies, truck drivers, subway motormen, and the odd luncheonette or bar owner. The wives/mothers did what wives/mothers did back then. Housewifing, maybe taking on a little part-time work to cut the drudgery if their own mothers could cover the kid. Or kids.
Keeping up with the Joneses was a piece of cake.
Bragging rights were hard to come by.
None of the men seemed interested in taking advantage of the GI Bill to further their prewar education.
On the other hand, they all had jobs.
Everyone read the Daily News and the Daily Mirror, and occasionally the New York Post (vaguely Red), but rarely the New York Times, which, unlike the tabs, was too unwieldy for public transportation.
They were patriots but not particularly political.
In their downtime, many of the Originals, both men and women, took to the benches in front of the buildings, Greek-chorusing about this and that, the talk easily reaching their friends directly overhead, hanging out of apartment windows in order to join in the conversation. The buildings were only seven stories high, there was no reason to shout.
Everyone smoked like chimneys.
Summers were spent together in the flyspecked bungalow colonies of the Catskills, women and kids living there seven days a week, the men coming up on Friday nights.
The men had roving card games, poker, pinochle.
The women played gin rummy, mahjong, coming to each other’s apartments in quilted housecoats and curlers, clutching vinyl-covered packs of Newports and Winstons.
Many a kid, myself included, fell asleep to the clack of ivory tiles or the riffle of cards, nodded off to a non-stop soundtrack of laughter, blue language, and hacking coughs coming from the game in the dinette, our bedrooms comfortingly wreathed in cigarette smoke. And those kids, born in primarily two waves—from 1948-’50, brought in as infants and toddlers, and the second wave, my younger brother’s micro-generation, projects-born in ’53-’54.
There were some families that had three or rarely four children, but most couples called it a day at two. Like our parents, we formed tight-knit squads united by birth year and building proximity, roaming the projects from early childhood to high school. And if we didn’t quite cover all eleven acres in our travels (the geographical comfort zone for us being fairly medieval), we at least covered our quadrant.
Except when it came to the Playground—everyone went to the Playground.
Half kiddie-friendly, with cement sprinkler ponds and monkey bars, half gladiator pit, composed of handball and basketball courts—but it was all about those basketball courts because for the boys basketball was the test and everyone had to take it twelve-year-olds and up, playing like their lives were on the line, adolescent gunners banging under the netless hoops with knotted temples and raging faces, shouting matches and physical throwdowns breaking out constantly. But the fights were always one on one and the weapon of choice was a closed fist nothing more.

Most of Parkside’s darkness in those first fifteen years occurred indoors—morbid or raging marriages (heard through open windows) rarely ending in divorce, spousal black eyes, corporal punishment for the kids—in 1956, my six-year-old half-a-friend from apartment 4-C routinely being made to touch a hot iron every time he “misbehaved”—spare-the-rod beatings on the first and second floors that left the word “spanking” in the dust, and other manifestations of general domestic viciousness.
Drug abuse was unheard of until it wasn’t.
A vacating tenant in the mid-’50s leaving his set of works behind a loose bathroom tile, the maintenance man’s discovery sending shockwaves through the building.
There were two adolescent ODs, in the early ’60s, one kid found on the roof of a building overlooking the Playground, the other in a shooting gallery back in the old neighborhood that his parents had hoped to leave behind when they moved to Parkside.
Followed by my own 26-year-old cousin, visiting one afternoon to help me decorate the living room for a sixth-grade dance party, then going off to the bottom of the Bronx to succumb to a hotshot that same night.
There were no muggings or robberies. The crimes tended toward the more sensational lurid one-offs that had nothing to do with the immediate environment.
A double homicide, the teenaged perp (destined to spend the rest of his short life in a state-run criminal psychiatric facility) having crawled through a random ground-floor bedroom window then stabbed to death a mother and daughter in their sleep.
A Holocaust-survivor suicide.
A ten-year-old friend wrongly thinking that it would be funny to put Clorox in his grandmother’s soda and watch her drink it…

Racial balance in public housing got off to a rocky start. In 1940, the massive Queensbridge Houses, which was and still is the largest public housing complex in America, opened with FDR in attendance. But among its 3,959 families, only fifty-two were black.
By 1953, however, the numbers had considerably evened out in all NYCHA developments of the city, the breakdown was 58.7 percent white, 33.7 percent black, and 7.4 percent Puerto Rican. By 1959, reflecting the shifting demographic of the city, black and Puerto Rican residents made up 57 percent. If America had ever come close to approaching the fata morgana of a true melting pot, it was in these projects, in those years. But the numbers were misleading.
Although the NYCHA tended to pay heed to the racial makeup of the neighborhoods in which the new developments were being built in order to assign the new black and white tenants in corresponding proportion, the administration was more concerned with a prospective family’s ability to meet the income floor than with any de facto segregation.
But those income floors varied from projects to projects, with the result that some housing developments came to be known informally as “low income” or “middle income,” or, more crudely, good and bad, and to the extent that straight-up historical and contemporary racism tended to comparatively hobble the earning power of African-Americans and Hispanics, those “low-income” projects tended to be darker.
Parkside was “middle income,” whiter than some of the other developments but more mixed than others. The tenants were by nature racially, ethnically, and religiously clannish, but no more than most and not to a great extent. The proximity of families, four to a floor, twenty-eight to a building, made intolerance intolerable. You let it all go or you lost your mind.
Civility reigned. Occasionally, genuine friendships formed.
Among the white Originals, the non-white, primarily black Originals who had moved in at the same time were regarded as “Hardworking” and “Strict (in a good way) with their kids.”
An effort was made—on both sides—but conditioned acculturation was a tough nut to crack, and strained liberal-sounding commentary was everywhere convoluted flattery, thoughtless patronization.

Did you ever notice how Viola’s boys never leave that apartment without she’s got them looking neat as a pin?

I was telling my own monsters, I wish they had manners like those Powell boys.

I came into the building late last night, I saw this big colored guy, by the elevator, I almost had a heart attack. Turns out it was Henry Davis and he was a perfect gentlemen.

I was going to ask my son to go over to the Carters and invite Andre to join the Cub Scout den, I mean, why not—but then I thought it would only make the kid uncomfortable.

It was the generally accepted wisdom that after a colorblind childhood, the kids at a certain age would naturally gravitate to their own.
Sometimes the parents helped this along, and when they did their actions cut like knives.
After her sixth-grade graduation in 1959, Dolores, a mixed-race eleven-year-old girl, since early childhood tight with a group of white girls in the building, first experienced being disinvited to one birthday party—no explanation given—and then another. A dance party. A group trip to Rye Playland, to Orchard Beach, to Freedomland and Palisades Park. No room in the car, you can come next time. In a few weeks the kid was bewilderingly friendless. Her mother, Terry, though, understood what was going on right away. Now that all the girls were starting to hit puberty the other mothers were afraid of young black boys coming around, drawn to their crowd by Dolores. Terry’s sport over the next year became daring those other mothers to meet her eye in the hallways or the elevator. Embarrassed, they never did.
In the gladiator pit, however, racial delicacy, racial hypocrisy, was nonexistent, had never existed to begin with because, well, it was a gladiator pit. But pickup teams were never divided along racial lines and the everyday verbal put-downs between the whites and the non-whites curiously lacked teeth.

Your people, Marcus, they’re so fucking cheap they rinse out the scumbag.

Who you calling cheap, Shenkman, nobody cheaper than a cheap Jew. You know in football why Jews like to play defense? They want to get the quarterback.

Are you kidding me? I knew a nigger from Edenwald once…

You don’t call nobody nigger.

You people call yourselves nigger all the time.

What did I say about that?

You people are fuckin’ hypocrites then.

How about I start calling you a spic, Del Pino.

How ’bout I fuckin’ kick your ass.

Del Pino’s father said the car needs a lube job, Mario said no problem, lifted the hood, and dove right in.


John Gotti Jr was born to be a gangster. Born in the Bronx in 1940, he was one of 11 surviving children in a large Italian family originating in Naples. Raised by Fannie and John Gotti Sr, the family struggled to lift itself out of poverty as John Sr. had difficulty holding down jobs in construction and factory work. 

This poverty meant that five family members would work for the Gambinos — one of the infamous five mafia families that dominate organized crime in New York City. John would go on to be the most notorious of them all.

 Gotti was just 12 years old when his first associations with the mafia began. Resenting his father&aposs poverty and frequently skipping school, the young boy fell in with street gangs in Brooklyn, where the family had recently relocated. Frequent moves in the five boroughs would be a staple of the young Gotti&aposs childhood, and he carried scars from years of bullying and lack of real connections. Gotti had to get tough, fast.

During a tape-recorded prison visit in 1998, Gotti said: "I went in the schoolyard and fought them. That&aposs what people respected. The next day you see them, they salute you. I was tough when I was 10 years old."

The gangs were on the periphery of the mafia, and soon enough, Gotti&aposs street fighting abilities began to be noticed. Big and burly, he came to be running errands for the Gambinos and a capo named Carmine Fatico — the family then known as the Anastasia family. By the time he turned 14 years old, Gotti moved on to burglaries and robbing cars. During one robbery at a construction site, a cement mixer fell on the boy&aposs foot, ending in the amputation of a toe and the unique springy walk he would become his hallmark.

The Anastasias controlled New York&aposs waterfront and dockworker unions, being ubiquitous with working-class life in the city. The family was led by Umberto "Albert" Anastasia, one of the most prominent and infamous figures in the history of organized crime. Albert was one of the founders of the modern mafia and co-founder and boss of the Murder Inc. organization that had existed until 1941.  

Despite having an IQ of 110, Gotti would become deeper embroiled in this world of the Anastasia Family and dropped out of high school at 16 years old, dedicating himself to the Fulton-Rockaway Boys gang. His school file was full of complaints of violence and defiance against teachers, and it&aposs likely few staff would mourn his loss. Truck hijackings were his early specialty, being involved in operations at the then-named Idlewild Airport from the late-1950s alongside his brother Gene Gotti and long-time associate Angelo Ruggiero

Indeed, Ruggiero and Gotti were almost like brothers themselves. Many of Gotti&aposs first ten arrests came alongside Ruggiero, frequently known as "Fat Ange." Said to be something of a poser, Ruggiero liked to let others believe he was more important than he was in these early days, and he showed little aptitude for either organizing or generating money. Yet, what he did have was a skill for, was making the right friends.

 Meanwhile, big things were happening in the broader world of the mafia and the Anastasias. A plot was underway within the rival Luciano Family to remove boss Frank Costello. Genovese was ready to move on his godfather after he was demoted from underboss to capo. To ensure the plan would succeed, Genovese also needed to remove Anastasia, given the immense power he wielded with the mafia commission and his alliance with Costello. He began to conspire with Anastasia&aposs own underboss Carlo Gambino.

In May 1957, Costello was shot and wounded outside his apartment, and he soon after "willingly" surrendered power to Genovese. On Oct. 25, Anastasia was shot dead at a barber&aposs shop in Midtown Manhattan by two masked men. The case attracted widespread public interest, but nobody was ever arrested, and Gambino was expected to become the new boss. Genovese decided to cement his power and called a summit, the infamous Apalachin meeting in November.

The meeting was a disaster. Police soon got wind of the many expensive cars and suspicious movements around the normally sleepy hamlet of Apalachin. After setting up roadblocks, police raided the meeting and detained 60 top-ranking mobsters, including Genovese and Gambino. 

While the raid would have few long-term consequences for those involved — with all charges overturned by 1960 — they would have a critical consequence for Gotti. It was decided that due to the emergency throughout the entire mafia, no new made men were to be elevated until further notice. Gotti&aposs upward trajectory was placed on hold.

Perhaps due to the raid and the heat that followed, Gotti tried to settle down and leave the criminal underworld. During that period, he met his wife, Victoria DiGiorgio, and the pair married in 1962. Like so many familiar mafia tales, he tried to go straight after his marriage, working in a factory and as a truck driver. It didn&apost last, and soon enough, the world of the mafia drew him back in.

The marriage between DiGiorgio and Gotti would be stormy, with DiGiorgio being as much a force in the home as Gotti was on the streets. She was half-Russian and unwilling to fall into the traditional role of silent support that Gotti perhaps expected, confronting him over money problems and his increasing track record for criminality. The situation undoubtedly pushed a desperate Gotti further into crime. For a time, it paid off, more significant scores coming in, which allowed the family to move to Howard Beach, a middle-class neighborhood in Queens.

However, it was no coincidence that Howard Beach was close to both the Fatico headquarters and JFK airport, and Gotti was making a name for himself amongst law enforcement. In 1968, he received his stiffest sentence yet - three years for hijacking, Gene and Ruggiero received similar punishment. He had been identified by workers at JFK airport and arrested by the FBI soon afterward.

Any hopes the sentence would humble Gotti would be in vain. One story tells how the young Gotti confronted Carmine Galante while in prison at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg. Galante of the Bonanno family had a fearsome reputation and acted as commander of the mafia wing at the prison. He regularly obtained steaks, booze and other treats for himself and his Bonanno colleagues, never sharing them with other families. 

The bold Gotti, not even a made man, demanded Galante share the bounty with the rest of the prison&aposs mafia. It was audacious and left Galante wishing he could have recruited him to the Bonannos.

After serving his time at Lewisburg, it would be time for Gotti to be moved sideways in the business, his talents now been utilized as an enforcer for the Gambino&aposs gambling enterprises. Despite the 1957 ruling, the books were closed to newly made men, in 1972, Fatico named Gotti as acting capo of the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club, a Gambino hangout and headquarters in Ozone Park. Gotti loved the club, feeling perfectly at home amongst the tough-guy atmosphere and talk. 

There was money, cars, women, but most of all respect. Nobody here cared he was a poor boy from the Bronx. 

While he wasn&apost officially a made man, it was still a big show of confidence and respect toward the young Gotti. His new role brought new responsibilities, including being responsible for all illegal gambling operations in East New York. Fatico was impressed by his ability to force people to pay. Also, as part of his new role, Gotti was tasked with briefing Gambino underboss Aniello Dellacroce. The two quickly formed a relationship as Dellacroce took a liking to him, and the feeling was mutual, with Gotti describing Dellacroce as a "man&aposs man," admiring his toughness. 

Indeed, the two men had much in common. Dellacroce was an intimidating disciplinarian who ran his crews with an iron fist, enjoying gambling with dice and cards. They were both made on the streets and noted for their profanity and bluntness. Dellacroce was broad-shouldered and square-jawed. It was a brave man who messed with him. Yet, he had a wealth of experience and knowledge that he was willing to share, particularly about his time under Anastasia. 

 Gotti took two men as his role models, his mentor Dellacroce and the Anastasia of his stories. Gotti was on his way.

The Rise and Fall of Shaman Queens of the East - History

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With its walls razed to ground by Babylon’s armies, Jerusalem joined a long line of ancient vanquished cities—from Ur and Nineveh and Persepolis to Babylon itself. While some recovered from the destruction, others did not. But none responded to political catastrophe by fashioning the kind of elaborate and enduring monument to their own downfall that we find in the Bible. Most conquered populations viewed their subjugation as a source of shame. They consigned it to oblivion, opting instead to extol the golden ages of the past. The biblical authors in contrast reacted to loss by composing extensive writings that acknowledge collective failure, reflect deeply upon its causes, and discover thereby a ground for collective hope. Working through colorful biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts, and drawing on an array of comparative examples, the course illustrates the thoroughgoing manner with which biblical authors responded to defeat by advancing a demotic agenda that places the community at the center. The aim of the biblical authors was to create a nation, and they sought to realize this goal via a shared text, which includes stories and songs, wisdom and laws. This corpus of writings belongs, without a doubt, to humanity’s greatest achievements. Whereas the great civilizations of the Near East invested their energies and resources into monuments of stone that could be destroyed by invading armies, the biblical authors left a literary legacy that has been intensively studied until the present day. More important, these authors’ visionary response to defeat brought to light a radical new wisdom: the notion that a people is greater than the state which governs it, and that a community can survive collapse when all of its members can claim a piece of the pie and therefore have a reason to take an active part in its collective life.


This course was very good. Learnt a lot and the whole experience have inspired me to pursue further study in Bible. Thanks Dr Jacob Wright. You are amazing gift of God!

Excellent course, providing a broad background of the historical Bible, as deep as you care to go and a good companion to the various Bible studies I've taken.

In the last module, we studied the activity of the great cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia in the Levant. These major groups played a key role in forming the backdrop for the rise of Israel and Judah. After Egyptian and Mesopotamian rulers withdrew from the area, they left breathing room for smaller groups—such as Israel and Judah—to grow and extend their own power. In this module, we will explore the more modest cultures of Israel and Judah, from the rise and fall of their respective kingdoms. Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: 1) Differentiate between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and describe the circumstances that led to the rise of both, 2) Identify key figures and causes in the downfall of Israel and Judah, respectively, and 3) Analyze how the biblical authors take creative liberties in their portrayal of historical events pertaining to Israel and Judah.


Dr. Jacob L. Wright

Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible

Текст видео

So, the Biblical authors, writing from a Southern Judea perspective, have very little to say about Israel's impressive achievements culturally, politically, and militarily. But they do give us glimpses of it. And these glimpses are collaborated by extra-biblical evidence. In contrast to the single Davidic dynasty of Judah, the Northern Kingdom of Israel witnesses a succession of dynasties, most of them lasting really only two, three generations. The most successful of these dynasties though, and the one that's most vilified by the biblical authors, remember the life when Judah perspective and they don't like the Northern Kingdom. So they're going to vilify anything that's very successful there, while the most successful dynasty is the Omride dynasty. The Omride dynasty is named after the founding King Omri, who dies in 875 BCE. And Omri is the father of a more famous king, one that you know, Ahab or Ahab, Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Many of these stories are probably familiar to you. So, Omri, Ahab, and then Ahab son Joram were the ones, not Saul, David, and Solomon, who really placed Israel on the map. They were the ones who consolidated a large territorial state from the competing centers and rulers that one can read about in 1 Kings 12-15. And they introduced a developed infrastructure, a monumental building program all over their kingdom, a bureaucratic organization, international diplomacy, and not least, a standing professional army with impressive chariot divisions. Now, the role of a standing army and chariots is especially noteworthy. And inscription from the Assyrian king Sennacherib the third tell us about a battle at Qarqar, up in the north. And the battle takes place in 853, where Ahab is now fighting an alliance against the Assyrians, an alliance with many other partners. But Ahab, this Omride King, this Israelite king, provides the largest contingency of chariots to the coalition. 2,000 chariots, the Assyrian source says, was the number of chariots that this Israelite king provided, which was much more than anybody else had. For more on this battle, you can see the link I provided in the material for this week. But, in the coming weeks, I'm going to speak about how the history of Israel from the Book of Genesis to the Biblical Book of Kings depicts a transition from this ideal time when the nation fought their own wars voluntarily as non-professional citizen soldiers to the rise of the state with kings who conscript soldiers and hire professional warriors to fight there for their political interest. And the most important part of the professional standing army on the other side of history are the chariot divisions. So, the transition within the biblical history from this voluntary citizens army to this professional standing army with great chariot divisions really represents the center of the message that the biblical authors are trying to get at. I'm going to ask you in the discussion to think about, by reading an encyclopedia article I wrote about chariots, and looking at some of the biblical evidence, to think why are the biblical authors so interested in this role of the chariot divisions, but above all, what the chariots really represent. And that is a military organization that is about voluntary service, where we all fight together, versus a kind of system, where there is one at the top, who has his professional soldiers, and they fight for his interest. They fight for the palace. And why the biblical authors, who are writing at the time, where they are no longer fighting wars, no longer interested really in going to battle against their enemies, why are they spending so much time on military organization? That would be the question for the forum that I would like you to discuss. Now, the Omride rulers not only built many impressive cities such as their new capital at Samaria known as Somron, Samaria, but they also managed to extend the territory of Israel's kingdom from its Courtland's in Ephriam and Ephriam hill country to the Jezreel Valley and further northwards into the Galilee, as well as across the Jordan River and the east, around the Gilead region. They even managed to push into Mobei territory across the Jordan. And both biblical sources and Mobei sources, the so-called Mesha stele, which I've mentioned before, attest to their military feats. And all the places that the Omride rulers exerted their military and political influence, we can observe the way these rulers promoted the construction of impressive cities and architecture and really a great society that emerges with them. The power that was growing in Judah appears to have been a vassal to the Omrides and fully subject to the authority of these kings from Israel. Some of the biblical passages, however, insist that the Judah's Kings simply collaborated with the Omride kings. So, take a look at 2 Kings 3:4-8, for example, to see how when the Omride King wants to go to war against Moab, he then offers a place alongside him in this coalition. But really, probably historically, on the basis of other evidence, when the Omride kings went to war, the Judah High King had to join them because the Judah High King was the Omrides kings' tusstle. The influence of the Omrides on Judah can be seen in the story of how a woman from the Omride household reigned as Queen for six years in Judah until she was deposed and then Dividic King was then reinstated. And that Queen's name is Atalia or Athalaya. You can read about that in 2 Kings 11. It was very fascinating account. The Omrides established a cosmopolitan kingdom with many diplomatic ties to important economic centers. Thus, Ahab marries a famous woman, I just mentioned, Jezebel. And Jezebel comes from where? From Phoenicia in the North. And Phoenicia is a very wealthy center known for its trade. And one can witness the influence of Phoenicia in the northern lands and architecture and art. For example, the extraordinary ivory carvings that you find within Israel and really throughout much of the ancient East. So, here is an Omride kingdom with great diplomatic ties, marriage ties, political ties, military achievements exerting its influence far and wide. The Omride dynasty ended, according to the biblical sources, in a bloody putsch undertaken by Jehu or Jehu. Jehu went on to establish his own dynasty. And some of us call that dynasty the Nimshites. Like the Omrides, Omrides are followed by the Namshites. Jehu has Jezebel thrown from her window, where she is devoured by the dogs in that gruesome scene described in the Bible, and all the male descendants of the Omrides are brought together, the 70 sons of Omri, and massacred. And you can read about this in 2 Kings 9-10 if you are so inclined. This brutality is said to have been authorized strangely by a true prophet of Yahweh of Israel's God named Elisha or Elisha. And Jehu kills of Ahab's descendants because Ahab is worshiping false gods and brings foreign influences into Israel. According to the biblical sources, Jehu kills Ahab son, Joram, the successor, after he had been wounded in battle with Aram Damascus, this kingdom to the north across the Jordan. In a triumphal inscription, found way up on the northern border of Israel at Tel Dan, the king of Aram-Damascus, whose name is Hazael, claims proudly to have killed Joram, Ahab's son, who would become king of Israel along with the Judah High King that was fought alongside him. And the biblical authors seem to know that this is the truth. Hazael was the one who had done the job in executing Joram. But they needed Jehu, a native Israelite king who was devout and pious and devoted to Israel's God to be the man who wipes out the house of Omri, the house of Ahab. Why? Because it needs to be divine punishment. And then, Jehu can establish himself on the throne as one who is authorized by one Yahweh's prophets, Elisha, to do the job and then becomes a more righteous king in his stead. So, these biblical authors depict Joram being wounded in battle with Hazael and then later finished off by Jehu. So, they can have their cake and eat it too. Hazael, yes, he did something to Joram, but, actually, Jehu is the one who really killed him. Once again, we have here a very slick solution by the biblical authors, and they really do know how to bring sources together and find very expedient solutions to their historical problems. So, Aram-Damascus and Hazael, which I just noted, who wiped out Joram, they won the upper hand over Israel. And much of what the Omrides had achieved was lost during the reign of Jehu, the successor to the Omrides. This included the territories in the Galilee in the Transjordan that the Omrides had conquered and annexed Israel. And many scholars believe that some of the accounts of the successful incursions by the Arameans that the biblical authors date to the time of the Omrides, meaning to the time of Ahab and Joram, actually occurred during this later period. These accounts are found in 1 Kings 20, 22, and 2 King 6. So, what the biblical authors are doing are taking historical events from a later time, from the time of Jehu, the righteous King, and the writer injecting them back into the reign of the evil kings of the Omrides. But historically, it's likely that these incursions, that these great battles that the Arameans fight against Israel and causing great bloodshed, really happened during the reign of the righteous King Jehu.


Despite his long-lasting legacy as one of the most famous dons in American criminal history, the true success of Gotti at the head of the Gambino crime family is a mixed affair. The Gambinos were already the most powerful of the five families and could boast a staggering $500 million a year in turnover when Gotti ascended to the top. Yet, Castellano’s killing and breaking of convention wouldn&apost be without consequence for Gotti.

Gotti knew that his actions had won him far more enemies than friends and immediately constructed a plan to make the Gambinos even bigger. Calling it his "legacy," Gotti wanted to build an untouchable family, one that nobody would dare stand against. First, he needed a number-two to replace Castellano&aposs man Joseph Gallo as consigliere. Angelo Ruggiero, he didn&apost consider "bright enough," and Sammy Gravano wasn&apost "old enough." Instead, he went with Frank DeCicco.

It was just one of many changes that Gotti ushered in for the Gambinos. He would be a hands-off boss, no longer dealing with day-to-day business. No new made men would be appointed for up to a year, and his headquarters would now be moved from his long-time haunt at the Bergin Club in Queens to the Ravenite in Little Italy. 

 So too, Gotti changed. From his usual smart attire as a capo, he elevated his style to the extravagant. No longer did he frequent neighbor restaurants and establishments as he once had, now he wined and dined in Manhattan as money flowed into his bank accounts. 

Wiretaps and surveillance revealed the new godfather&aposs routine. After a late night of partying and gambling, he would be woken around noon by Ruggiero, who reminded him of what his schedule was for the day. After breakfast, he would be picked up in a luxury Mercedes-Benz and taken to the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club. 

Here, in a newly added dressing space and barber&aposs floor, he received his daily haircut and often a manicure or time on the tanning bed. Following this, he would select fine clothes from the immense stored wardrobe and leave for the Ravenite Club. 

ਊt the Ravenite, Gotti conducted the day&aposs business, meeting with capos once a week. Once done, he would head out into Manhattan for leisure, making sure to insult and taunt watching police and federal agents on the way, usually by smiling and mouthing the words "Naughty, naughty" in their direction when he spotted their observation. He showed up at Regines or Da Noi, always ordering the most expensive food and drink on the menu. It would be Louis XIII brandy or Cristal Rose champagne, with Gotti commanding the floor.

With the gloves off, nothing was off the table, however, and Gotti was brought back down to earth in April of 1986 when DeCicco was killed in a car bomb explosion under the orders of the Vincent Gigante, boss of the Genovese family, and Anthony Corallo, boss of the Lucchese family. Both Gotti and DeCicco were the intended targets in revenge for Castellano and Bilotti. The use of bombs had also long been forbidden by the Commission given their volatility and potential to cause unintended collateral, bringing down the gaze of the authorities, press and public alike.  

Gotti needed to put a stamp on his authority, and, back in prison awaiting his racketeering trial, he ordered a hit on Robert DiBernardo, one of the men who had plotted to kill Castellano, after DiBernardo was reported to be challenging for the top role. Gotti also elevated Gravano to underboss despite initial reluctance over his age, appointing him alongside Ruggiero and Joseph Armone as a committee to run the Gambinos.

Gravano was five years younger than Gotti and also grew up in Brooklyn. However, Gravano had been blessed with a much more prosperous upbringing than the difficulties Gotti faced through poverty. Yet, he too had been bullied by his peers, picked out as a slow learner thanks to unrecognized dyslexia. He became a rebellious teenager, rejecting school authorities and dropping out early before taking up boxing to defend himself, winning the nickname "Sammy the Bull."

After cutting his teeth with petty crimes, Gravano eventually came to work for a Colombo family crew in the late 1960s under boss Carmine Persico. Eager to make his usefulness known to the family, he carried out his first killing, at 25 years old, gaining a reputation as an enforcer. 

However, after a feud developed with a Colombo capo, Gravano was allowed to peacefully leave the family and join the Gambinos, rising quickly and becoming a made man around the same time as Gotti. Few could have envisioned what was to come when Castellano uttered the words, "In this secret society, there&aposs one way in, and there&aposs only one way out. You come in on your feet, and you go out in a coffin. There is no return from this." 

But that would be the future, and for now, Gravano was the intelligent choice as underboss. He&aposd been a big earner throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s for the Gambinos, specializing in construction and nightclub businesses. Castellano often relied on him when violence was deemed necessary. Despite this, Gravano had been an early turncoat toward Gotti&aposs plot and was committed to the new way of things, being happy to arrange a bullet for his friend DiBernardo. Like many, his rise was thanks to Gotti, or rather the legal troubles he found himself in.

If anyone in the Gambino family was worried that Gotti was going to jail, however, they shouldn&apost have been. In a staggering piece of corruption, the family managed to infiltrate the jury in his racketeering trial, with juror George Pape happy to sell his vote for $60,000. A strong defense coupled and Pepe holding out in the jury room helped with the trial atmosphere, meaning many began to fear for their safety. 

Gotti was acquitted of all charges.

Gotti&aposs acquittal was a scandal, yet there were undoubtedly those, including in the media, who offered grudging respect and admiration for the wily Gotti. Despite being charged with crimes ranging from murder to hijacking, he had regularly been pictured smiling for cameras and offering a genial and friendly manner. While the mafia&aposs old guard had fallen with 100-year sentences in the Mafia Commission Trial, Gotti had arisen as the most prominent face of mafia defiance since Al Capone.

The public liked his image, fitting neatly into 1980s excess. With silk ties and hand-made suits, he was "the Dapper Don," all power, money and success. The crimes almost became irrelevant, and he was now the most famous mobster in America. 

His home was featured on the news, with photographers and journalists often outside. The new face of the modern mafia was a celebrity, willing to provide soundbites for the media whenever he was he trouble and even making the cover of "Time” magazine. 

Gotti knew well the power of marketing and the loyalty that wealth and charity could buy. A loved man is far harder to attack than a hated one. He would throw block parties in Ozone Park on Independence Day, where everything was free, endearing himself to locals. There was $10,000 donated for the local Baptist Medical Center. 

Free from anymore pending legal cases, Gotti boasted he could finally put his plans to expand the Gambinos&apos power into effect, and now his soldiers were expected to show the same level of bravado and confidence. The Gambinos began to dress lavishly, projecting an image of strength to law enforcement and the public. It was yet another change to the old ways and drew nothing but anger from the FBI and police, his arrogance making them determined to bring down the don.

Despite Gotti&aposs success in court, the trial was still a disaster for the wider family, with his underboss Armone and Gallo, both convicted. With the heroin trafficking trial of Gene Gotti and Ruggiero from a 1983 incident also approaching, things were looking bad for the family. Gotti began to move his pieces around the board, elevating Sammy Gravano and introducing Frank Locascio to the upper echelons of the Gambinos, appointing him acting underboss.

 Looking to put an end to the disarray, Gotti ordered all capos would now report to him once a week at the Ravenite Social Club, a decision taken against advice that such a move would break secrecy. The FBI, of course, began to surveil the meetings and identify who was attending. Gotti, however, seemed to think he was untouchable and his next target would be control of the Mafia Commission itself.

The Romans – Fall of the Empire

The Fall of the Empire was a gradual process. The Romans did not wake up one day to find their Empire gone!

By AD369 the Empire was beginning to crumble for the following reasons:

The Government was running out of money.

The people had to pay very high taxes – up to a third of their money.

The rich were given grants of money and land which made them richer while the poor got poorer.

There was not enough money to pay for the army.

Barbarians from Germany called vandals were conquering parts of the Empire and there were not enough soldiers to fight back.

Although the outer edges of the Empire were well defended, there was no defence with in the Empire. This meant that once barbarians had broken through there was nothing to stop them marching to Rome.

The Roman network of roads allowed invaders an easy route to Rome.

No one had decided on a good way to choose an Emperor,. This meant that any general could march into Rome, kill the Emperor and make himself the next Emperor. In 73 years there were 23 Emperors and 20 of them were murdered.


The phrase "ancient Near East" denotes the 19th-century distinction between Near East and Far East as global regions of interest to the British Empire. The distinction began during the Crimean War. The last major exclusive partition of the east between these two terms was current in diplomacy in the late 19th century, with the Hamidian Massacres of the Armenians and Assyrians by the Ottoman Empire in 1894–1896 and the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895. The two theatres were described by the statesmen and advisors of the British Empire as "the Near East" and "the Far East". Shortly after, they were to share the stage with Middle East, which came to prevail in the 20th century and continues in modern times.

As Near East had meant the lands of the Ottoman Empire at roughly its maximum extent, on the fall of that empire, the use of Near East in diplomacy was reduced significantly in favor of the Middle East. Meanwhile, the ancient Near East had become distinct. The Ottoman rule over the Near East ranged from Vienna (to the north) to the tip of the Arabian Peninsula (to the south), from Egypt (in the west) to the borders of Iraq (in the east). The 19th-century archaeologists added Iran to their definition, which was never under the Ottomans, but they excluded all of Europe and, generally, Egypt, which had parts in the empire.

Ancient Near East periodization is the attempt to categorize or divide time into discrete named blocks, or eras, of the Near East. The result is a descriptive abstraction that provides a useful handle on Near East periods of time with relatively stable characteristics.

Copper Age Chalcolithic
(4500–3300 BC)
Early Chalcolithic 4500–4000 BC Ubaid period in Mesopotamia
Late Chalcolithic 4000–3300 BC Ghassulian, Sumerian Uruk period in Mesopotamia, Gerzeh, Predynastic Egypt, Proto-Elamite
Bronze Age
(3300–1200 BC)
Early Bronze Age
(3300–2100 BC)
Early Bronze Age I 3300–3000 BC Protodynastic to Early Dynastic Period of Egypt, settlement of Phoenicians
Early Bronze Age II 3000–2700 BC Early Dynastic Period of Sumer
Early Bronze Age III 2700–2200 BC Old Kingdom of Egypt, Akkadian Empire, early Assyria, Old Elamite period, Sumero-Akkadian states
Early Bronze Age IV 2200–2100 BC First Intermediate Period of Egypt
Middle Bronze Age
(2100–1550 BC)
Middle Bronze Age I 2100–2000 BC Third Dynasty of Ur
Middle Bronze Age II A 2000–1750 BC Minoan civilization, early Babylonia, Egyptian Middle Kingdom
Middle Bronze Age II B 1750–1650 BC Second Intermediate Period of Egypt
Middle Bronze Age II C 1650–1550 BC Hittite Old Kingdom, Minoan eruption
Late Bronze Age
(1550–1200 BC)
Late Bronze Age I 1550–1400 BC Hittite Middle Kingdom, Hayasa-Azzi, Middle Elamite period, New Kingdom of Egypt
Late Bronze Age II A 1400–1300 BC Hittite New Kingdom, Mitanni, Hayasa-Azzi, Ugarit, Mycenaean Greece
Late Bronze Age II B 1300–1200 BC Middle Assyrian Empire, beginning of the high point of Phoenicians
Iron Age
(1200–539 BC)
Iron Age I
(1200–1000 BC)
Iron Age I A 1200–1150 BC Troy VII, Hekla 3 eruption, Bronze Age collapse, Sea Peoples
Iron Age I B 1150–1000 BC Neo-Hittite states, Neo Elamite period, Aramean states
Iron Age II
(1000–539 BC)
Iron Age II A 1000–900 BC Greek Dark Ages, traditional date of the United Monarchy of Israel
Iron Age II B 900–700 BC Kingdom of Israel, Urartu, Phrygia, Neo-Assyrian Empire, Kingdom of Judah, first settlement of Carthage
Iron Age II C 700–539 BC Neo-Babylonian Empire, Median Empire, fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Phoenicia, Archaic Greece, rise of Achaemenid Persia
Classical antiquity
(539 BC – 634 AD)
Achaemenid 539–330 BC Persian Achaemenid Empire, Classical Greece
Hellenistic & Parthian 330–31 BC Macedonian Empire, Seleucid Empire, Kingdom of Pergamon, Ptolemaic Kingdom, Parthian Empire
Roman & Persian 31 BC – 634 AD Roman–Persian Wars, Roman Empire, Parthian Empire, Sassanid Empire, Byzantine Empire, Muslim conquests

Prehistory Edit

Chalcolithic Edit

Early Mesopotamia Edit

The Uruk period (c. 4000 to 3100 BC) existed from the protohistoric Chalcolithic to the Early Bronze Age period in the history of Mesopotamia, following the Ubaid period. [4] Named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, this period saw the emergence of urban life in Mesopotamia. It was followed by the Sumerian civilization. [5] The late Uruk period (34–32 centuries) saw the gradual emergence of the cuneiform script and corresponds to the Early Bronze Age.

Bronze Age Edit

Early Bronze Age Edit

Sumer and Akkad Edit

Sumer, located in southern Mesopotamia, is the earliest known civilization in the world. It lasted from the first settlement of Eridu in the Ubaid period (late 6th millennium BC) through the Uruk period (4th millennium BC) and the Dynastic periods (3rd millennium BC) until the rise of Assyria and Babylon in the late 3rd millennium BC and early 2nd millennium BC respectively. The Akkadian Empire, founded by Sargon the Great, lasted from the 24th to the 21st century BC, and was regarded by many as the world's first empire. The Akkadians eventually fragmented into Assyria and Babylonia.

Elam Edit

Ancient Elam lay to the east of Sumer and Akkad, in the far west and southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province. In the Old Elamite period, c. 3200 BC, it consisted of kingdoms on the Iranian plateau, centered on Anshan, and from the mid-2nd millennium BC, it was centered on Susa in the Khuzestan lowlands. Elam was absorbed into the Assyrian Empire in the 9th to 7th centuries BC however, the civilization endured up until 539 BC when it was finally overrun by the Iranian Persians. The Proto-Elamite civilization existed from c. 3200 BC to 2700 BC, when Susa, the later capital of the Elamites, began to receive influence from the cultures of the Iranian plateau. In archaeological terms, this corresponds to the late Banesh period. This civilization is recognized as the oldest in Iran and was largely contemporary with its neighbour, the Sumerian civilization. The Proto-Elamite script is an Early Bronze Age writing system briefly in use for the ancient Elamite language (which was a Language isolate) before the introduction of Elamite Cuneiform.

The Amorites Edit

The Amorites were a nomadic Semitic people who occupied the country west of the Euphrates from the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. In the earliest Sumerian sources, beginning about 2400 BC, the land of the Amorites ("the Mar.tu land") is associated with the West, including Syria and Canaan, although their ultimate origin may have been Arabia. [6] They ultimately settled in Mesopotamia, ruling Isin, Larsa, and later Babylon.

Middle Bronze Age Edit

  • Assyria, after enduring a short period of Mitanni domination, emerged as a great power from the accession of Ashur-uballit I in 1365 BC to the death of Tiglath-Pileser I in 1076 BC. Assyria rivaled Egypt during this period, and dominated much of the near east.
  • Babylonia, founded as a state by Amorite tribes, found itself under the rule of Kassites for 435 years. The nation stagnated during the Kassite period, and Babylonia often found itself under Assyrian or Elamite domination. : Ugarit, Kadesh, Megiddo
  • The Hittite Empire was founded some time after 2000 BC, and existed as a major power, dominating Asia Minor and the Levant until 1200 BC, when it was first overrun by the Phrygians, and then appropriated by Assyria.

Late Bronze Age Edit

The Hurrians lived in northern Mesopotamia and areas to the immediate east and west, beginning approximately 2500 BC. They probably originated in the Caucasus and entered from the north, but this is not certain. Their known homeland was centred on Subartu, the Khabur River valley, and later they established themselves as rulers of small kingdoms throughout northern Mesopotamia and Syria. The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni. The Hurrians played a substantial part in the history of the Hittites.

Ishuwa was an ancient kingdom in Anatolia. The name is first attested in the second millennium BC, and is also spelled Išuwa. In the classical period, the land was a part of Armenia. Ishuwa was one of the places where agriculture developed very early on in the Neolithic. Urban centres emerged in the upper Euphrates river valley around 3500 BC. The first states followed in the third millennium BC. The name Ishuwa is not known until the literate period of the second millennium BC. Few literate sources from within Ishuwa have been discovered and the primary source material comes from Hittite texts. To the west of Ishuwa lay the kingdom of the Hittites, and this nation was an untrustworthy neighbour. The Hittite king Hattusili I (c. 1600 BC) is reported to have marched his army across the Euphrates river and destroyed the cities there. This corresponds well with burnt destruction layers discovered by archaeologists at town sites in Ishuwa of roughly the same date. After the end of the Hittite empire in the early 12th century BC a new state emerged in Ishuwa. The city of Malatya became the centre of one of the so-called Neo-Hittite kingdom. The movement of nomadic people may have weakened the kingdom of Malatya before the final Assyrian invasion. The decline of the settlements and culture in Ishuwa from the 7th century BC until the Roman period was probably caused by this movement of people. The Armenians later settled in the area since they were natives of the Armenian Plateau and related to the earlier inhabitants of Ishuwa.

Kizzuwatna was a kingdom of the second millennium BC, situated in the highlands of southeastern Anatolia, near the Gulf of İskenderun in modern-day Turkey, encircling the Taurus Mountains and the Ceyhan river. The centre of the kingdom was the city of Kummanni, situated in the highlands. In a later era, the same region was known as Cilicia.

Luwian is an extinct language of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. Luwian speakers gradually spread through Anatolia and became a contributing factor to the downfall, after c. 1180 BC, of the Hittite Empire, where it was already widely spoken. Luwian was also the language spoken in the Neo-Hittite states of Syria, such as Melid and Carchemish, as well as in the central Anatolian kingdom of Tabal that flourished around 900 BC. Luwian has been preserved in two forms, named after the writing systems used to represent them: Cuneiform Luwian, and Hieroglyphic Luwian.

Mari was an ancient Sumerian and Amorite city, located 11 kilometres north-west of the modern town of Abu Kamal on the western bank of Euphrates river, some 120 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, Syria. It is thought to have been inhabited since the 5th millennium BC, although it flourished from 2900 BC until 1759 BC, when it was sacked by Hammurabi.

Mitanni was a Hurrian kingdom in northern Mesopotamia from c. 1500 BC, at the height of its power, during the 14th century BC, encompassing what is today southeastern Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq (roughly corresponding to Kurdistan), centred on the capital Washukanni whose precise location has not yet been determined by archaeologists. The Mitanni kingdom is thought to have been a feudal state led by a warrior nobility of Indo-Aryan descent, who invaded the Levant region at some point during the 17th century BC, their influence apparent in a linguistic superstratum in Mitanni records. The spread to Syria of a distinct pottery type associated with the Kura-Araxes culture has been connected with this movement, although its date is somewhat too early. [7] Yamhad was an ancient Amorite kingdom. A substantial Hurrian population also settled in the kingdom, and the Hurrian culture influenced the area. The kingdom was powerful during the Middle Bronze Age, c. 1800–1600 BC. Its biggest rival was Qatna further south. Yamhad was finally destroyed by the Hittites in the 16th century BC.

The Aramaeans were a Semitic (West Semitic language group), semi-nomadic and pastoralist people who had lived in upper Mesopotamia and Syria. Aramaeans have never had a unified empire they were divided into independent kingdoms all across the Near East. Yet to these Aramaeans befell the privilege of imposing their language and culture upon the entire Near East and beyond, fostered in part by the mass relocations enacted by successive empires, including the Assyrians and Babylonians. Scholars even have used the term 'Aramaization' for the Assyro-Babylonian peoples' languages and cultures, that have become Aramaic-speaking. [8]

The Sea peoples is the term used for a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BC who sailed into the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty, and especially during Year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty. [9] The Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah explicitly refers to them by the term "the foreign-countries (or 'peoples') [10] of the sea" [11] [12] in his Great Karnak Inscription. [13] Although some scholars believe that they "invaded" Cyprus, Hatti and the Levant, this hypothesis is disputed. [14]

Bronze Age collapse Edit

The Bronze Age collapse is the name given by those historians who see the transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age as violent, sudden and culturally disruptive, expressed by the collapse of palace economies of the Aegean and Anatolia, which were replaced after a hiatus by the isolated village cultures of the Dark Age period in history of the ancient Middle East. Some have gone so far as to call the catalyst that ended the Bronze Age a "catastrophe". [15] The Bronze Age collapse may be seen in the context of a technological history that saw the slow, comparatively continuous spread of iron-working technology in the region, beginning with precocious iron-working in what is now Romania in the 13th and 12th centuries. [16] The cultural collapse of the Mycenaean kingdoms, the Hittite Empire in Anatolia and Syria, and the Egyptian Empire in Syria and Palestine, the scission of long-distance trade contacts and sudden eclipse of literacy occurred between 1206 and 1150 BC. In the first phase of this period, almost every city between Troy and Gaza was violently destroyed, and often left unoccupied thereafter (for example, Hattusas, Mycenae, Ugarit). The gradual end of the Dark Age that ensued saw the rise of settled Neo-Hittite and Aramaean kingdoms of the mid-10th century BC, and the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

Iron Age Edit

Aegean (1200–700 BC) Italy (1100–700 BC) Balkans (1100 BC – 150 AD) Eastern Europe (900–650 BC) Central Europe (800–50 BC) Great Britain (800 BC – 100 AD) Northern Europe (500 BC – 800 AD)

During the Early Iron Age, from 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire arose, vying with Babylonia and other lesser powers for dominance of the region, though not until the reforms of Tiglath-Pileser III in the 8th century BC, [17] [18] did it become a powerful and vast empire. In the Middle Assyrian period of the Late Bronze Age, Assyria had been a kingdom of northern Mesopotamia (modern-day northern Iraq), competing for dominance with its southern Mesopotamian rival Babylonia. From 1365–1076 it had been a major imperial power, rivaling Egypt and the Hittite Empire. Beginning with the campaign of Adad-nirari II, it became a vast empire, overthrowing 25th dynasty Egypt and conquering Egypt, the Middle East, and large swaths of Asia Minor, ancient Iran, the Caucasus and east Mediterranean. The Neo-Assyrian Empire succeeded the Middle Assyrian period (14th to 10th century BC). Some scholars, such as Richard Nelson Frye, regard the Neo-Assyrian Empire to be the first real empire in human history. [19] During this period, Aramaic was also made an official language of the empire, alongside the Akkadian language. [19]

The states of the Neo-Hittite kingdoms were Luwian, Aramaic and Phoenician-speaking political entities of Iron Age northern Syria and southern Anatolia that arose following the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC. The term "Neo-Hittite" is sometimes reserved specifically for the Luwian-speaking principalities like Melid (Malatya) and Karkamish (Carchemish), although in a wider sense the broader cultural term "Syro-Hittite" is now applied to all the entities that arose in south-central Anatolia following the Hittite collapse – such as Tabal and Quwê – as well as those of northern and coastal Syria. [20] [21]

Urartu was an ancient kingdom of Armenia and North Mesopotamia [22] which existed from c. 860 BC, emerging from the Late Bronze Age until 585 BC. The Kingdom of Urartu was located in the mountainous plateau between Asia Minor, the Iranian Plateau, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus mountains, later known as the Armenian Highland, and it centered on Lake Van (present-day eastern Turkey). The name corresponds to the Biblical Ararat.

The term Neo-Babylonian Empire refers to Babylonia under the rule of the 11th ("Chaldean") dynasty, from the revolt of Nabopolassar in 623 BC until the invasion of Cyrus the Great in 539 BC (Although the last ruler of Babylonia (Nabonidus) was in fact from the Assyrian city of Harran and not Chaldean), notably including the reign of Nebuchadrezzar II. Through the centuries of Assyrian domination, Babylonia enjoyed a prominent status, and revolted at the slightest indication that it did not. However, the Assyrians always managed to restore Babylonian loyalty, whether through the granting of increased privileges, or militarily. That finally changed in 627 BC with the death of the last strong Assyrian ruler, Ashurbanipal, and Babylonia rebelled under Nabopolassar the Chaldean a few years later. In alliance with the Medes and Scythians, Nineveh was sacked in 612 and Harran in 608 BC, and the seat of empire was again transferred to Babylonia. Subsequently, the Medes controlled much of the ancient Near East from their base in Ecbatana (modern-day Hamadan, Iran), most notably most of what is now Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and the South Caucasus.

Following the fall of the Medes, the Achaemenid Empire was the first of the Persian Empires to rule over most of the Near East and far beyond, and the second great Iranian empire (after the Median Empire). At the height of its power, encompassing approximately 7.5 million square kilometers, the Achaemenid Empire was territorially the largest empire of classical antiquity, and the first world empire. It spanned three continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa), including apart from its core in modern-day Iran, the territories of modern Iraq, the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan, Abkhazia), Asia Minor (Turkey), Thrace, Bulgaria, Greece, many of the Black Sea coastal regions, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Central Asia, parts of Pakistan, and all significant population centers of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya. [ citation needed ] It is noted in western history as the foe of the Greek city states in the Greco-Persian Wars, for freeing the Israelites from their Babylonian captivity, and for instituting Aramaic as the empire's official language.

Ancient civilizations in the Near East were deeply influenced by their spiritual beliefs, which generally did not distinguish between heaven and Earth. [23] They believed that divine action influenced all mundane matters, and also believed in divination (ability to predict the future). [23] Omens were often inscribed in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, as were records of major events. [23]

What Caused the Rise – and Fall – of the Ottoman Empire?

The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest superpowers and longest-lived dynasties in world history. At its height, the Islamic empire extended far beyond modern-day Turkey — from Egypt and Northern Africa through the Middle East, Greece, the Balkans (Bulgaria, Romania, etc.), and right up to the gates of Vienna, Austria.

In the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire was not only a dominant military force, but a diverse and multicultural society. The glory wouldn't last, however, and after centuries of political crises, the Ottoman Empire was finally dismantled after World War I.

So, what led to its downfall? First, let's go back to its beginnings.

It All Started with Osman

Osman Gazi is known as the father of the Ottoman dynasty, the first in a long line of military leaders and sultans who came to rule the Ottoman Empire for six centuries. In fact, the word Ottoman in English derives from the Italian pronunciation of Osman's name.

Osman was born in 1258 in the Anatolian town of Söğüt (in modern-day Turkey). He led one of many small Islamic principalities in the region at the time, but Osman wasn't satisfied with a provincial kingdom. He raised an army of fierce frontier warriors known as Ghazis and marched against Byzantine strongholds in Asia Minor.

According to Ottoman lore, Osman had a dream in which all the known world was unified under Ottoman rule, symbolized by the canopy of a massive tree rising from his body and covering the world. This vision, first published 150 years after Osman's death, provided divine authority for the Ottoman conquests to come, explained historian Caroline Finkel in "Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire."

The Gunpowder Empire

In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II, aka Mehmed the Conqueror, laid siege to the greatly weakened Byzantine capital of Constantinople. Although its population had dwindled, the fabled city still had its impenetrable walls. But the Ottomans came prepared with a new type of weaponry: cannons.

"The Ottomans were some of the first to employ artillery on a mass scale in the 15th century," says Chris Gratien, a history professor at the University of Virginia and co-creator of the Ottoman History Podcast. Mehmed bombarded the fortified city walls for weeks before his army broke through, making Constantinople (later Istanbul) the new Ottoman capital, which it would remain for over four centuries.

By unseating the Byzantine Empire, Sultan Mehmed could claim his place in the Roman imperial tradition. It's at this moment, historians believe, that the Ottoman Empire was born.

A Multicultural Caliphate

The Ottomans and most of their functionaries were Muslim, but the sultans and the ruling elite were strategic and pragmatic about the role of religion in their ever-expanding empire.

For conquests of predominantly Muslim regions like Egypt, the Ottomans established themselves as the true caliphate without completely erasing their Muslim subjects' existing political structure. Non-Muslim communities throughout the Mediterranean governed much of their own affairs under the Ottomans, as Christians and Jews were considered "protected people" in the Islamic political tradition.

Gratien says that the Ottomans were able to successfully govern and maintain such an extensive land empire not only through military might but "a combination of cooption and compromise."

The Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire

In the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire reached its territorial and political apex under the 46-year rule of Suleiman I, better known as Suleiman the Magnificent, who was intent on making his Mediterranean kingdom a European superpower.

Militarily, this was the "period of peak Ottoman dominance," says Gratien. Suleiman commanded an elite professional fighting force known as the Janissaries. The fighters were taken by force from Christian families as youth, educated and trained as soldiers and made to convert to Islam. Fearless in battle, the Janissaries were also accompanied by some of the world's first military bands.

Suleiman's reign also coincided with a period of great wealth for the Ottoman Empire, which controlled some of the most productive agricultural land (Egypt) and most trafficked trade routes in Europe and the Mediterranean.

But Gratien says that the Age of Suleiman was about more than just power and money it was also about justice. In Turkish, Suleiman's nickname was Kanuni — "the lawgiver" — and he sought to project the image of a just ruler in the Islamic tradition. In larger towns across the empire, citizens could take their disputes to local Islamic courts, the records of which are still around today. Not just Muslims, but Christians and Jews. And not just men, but women.

"These were places where women could go claim their rights in cases of inheritance or divorce, for example," says Gratien.

Roxelana and the 'Sultanate of Women'

A fascinating and somewhat overlooked figure in Ottoman history is Roxelana, the wife of Suleiman the Magnificent. As historian Leslie Peirce showed in his book "Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire," Roxelana, known as Hürrem Sultan in Turkish, ushered in a new age of female political power in the palace, sometimes known as the "Sultanate of Women."

Roxelana was a non-Muslim kidnapped by slavers at 13 and eventually sold into the sultan's harem. According to Ottoman royal tradition, the sultan would stop sleeping with a concubine once she bore him a male heir. But Suleiman stuck with Roxelana, who bore him a total of six children and became one of his closest confidantes and political aides — and perhaps most shockingly, his wife.

Thanks to Roxelana's example, the imperial harem took on a new role as an influential political body, and generations of Ottoman women ruled alongside their sultan husbands and sons.

Military Decline and Internal Reforms

In 1683, the Ottomans tried for a second time to conquer Vienna but were repulsed by an unlikely alliance of the Hapsburg Dynasty, the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Not only did the Ottomans fail to capture Vienna, but they ended up losing Hungary and other territory in the ensuing war.

The once unbeatable Ottoman fighters suffered loss after loss throughout the 18th and 19th centuries as more Ottoman territories declared independence or were snatched up by neighboring powers like Russia.

But Gratien says that while the Ottoman Empire shrunk in size, it also centralized its government and become more involved in the lives of its citizens. It raised more taxes and opened public schools and hospitals. The economy and population density grew rapidly in the 19th century even as the military suffered painful losses. The Ottoman Empire also became the destination for millions of Muslim immigrants and refugees from former Ottoman lands and neighboring regions.

"Large-scale immigration is associated with places like the United States in the 19th century, but people don't think of the Ottoman Empire as something that was also growing and dynamic during that time," says Gratien.

The Rise of the 'Young Turks'

In the late 19th century, the Ottoman Empire experimented with a constitutional monarchy and an elected parliament, but that came to end in 1878 when Sultan Abdülhamid II dissolved the democratic institutions and ushered in 30 years of autocratic rule.

Abdülhamid's hardline approach sowed the seeds of revolution, and the leading Ottoman opposition group was the Committee of Union and Progress party (CUP), also known as the "Young Turks." Though its leaders were Turkish nationalists, the CUP formed a coalition of ethnoreligious groups, including Armenians, Jews, Arabs, Greeks and Albanians.

The Young Turks wanted to restore the constitution, limit the monarchy and reestablish the greatness of the empire. Their victory in the 1908 revolution was widely celebrated as a win for liberty, equality, and Ottoman brotherhood. But the revolution quickly soured as factions split and more ardent nationalists consolidated what became increasingly authoritarian rule.

Coinciding with this internal turmoil was the First Balkan War in 1912, in which the Ottomans lost their remaining European territory in Albania and Macedonia. And as World War I approached, the militarily weakened Ottomans threw their fate in with Germany, who they hoped would protect them from their bitter enemy Russia.

The Armenian Genocide — The Empire's Final Shameful Chapter

With the ultranationalist wing of the Young Turks in charge, the Ottoman government initiated a plan to deport and resettle millions of ethnic Greeks and Armenians, groups whose loyalty to the crumbling empire was in question.

Under the cover of "security concerns," the Ottoman government ordered the arrest of notable Armenian politicians and intellectuals on April 24, 1915, a day known as Red Sunday. What followed was the forced deportation of more than a million Armenian citizens, including death marches across the desert to Syria and alleged massacres by soldiers, irregulars, and other armed groups in the region. In all, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians (out of 2 million in the Ottoman Empire) were killed between 1915 and 1923, according to the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute.

Most scholars and historians agree that what happened to the Ottoman Armenians constitutes ethnic cleansing and genocide, but Turkey and a number of its allies still refuse to call it by that name.

Defeat in World War I was the final death blow to the Ottoman Empire, but the sultanate wasn't officially dissolved until 1922, when the Turkish nationalist resistance leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk rose to power and established a secular republic. Under his decades-long, one-party rule, Atatürk tried to erase Ottoman institutions and cultural symbols, brought in Western legal codes and laid the foundation for modern Turkey.

You can thank the Ottoman Empire for popularizing both coffee and coffeehouses way back in the 16th century.

Watch the video: The Rise and Fall of Eric Weinstein feat. Joe Rogan (January 2022).