Nimrod's Fortress Plaque

A Brief History of Al Qaeda

A brief history of al Qaeda from Bill Moyer

psu logo edited Backgrounder on Syria: History

Background information on the history of Syria.

Beyond Golden Age and Decline: The Legacy of Muslim Societies in Global Modernity, 1300-1900

This website is a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Bridging Cultures Initiative on the Muslim World and the Humanities.  This project aims to reshape dominant thinking about the impact of Muslim societies in the formation of modern world, with focus on political, cultural, artistic, economic and social achievements between 1300 and 1900, an era still commonly described by the words “decline” and “stagnation” in popular culture.  The website includes presentations from a Scholars Forum, bibliographies, and other resources.

Country Studies

The Library of Congress Country Studies include extensive information about all Middle Eastern countries, including historical overviews as well as information about government structure, economics, and demographics.

Specific countries can’t be bookmarked, so follow the link above and select the country of interest.

Dreams in the Desert: Making the Modern Middle East

This powerpoint presentation reviews the history of the modern Middle East, from the end of the Ottoman Empire to the 1979 Iranian revolution.

European Imperialism in the Middle East (Part 1)

The relationship between European, North African, and Southwest Asian nations that border the Mediterranean stretches back to antiquity and reflects a long tradition of trade, colonialism, and acculturation. Yet, by the end of World War II, Europe had come to dominate the region politically and militarily. When did this long-symbiotic relationship transform into one of imperialism and colonization?

European Imperialism in the Middle East (Part II)

World War I had a profound impact on the Middle East and North Africa. With the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, European powers carved the region into mandates, protectorates, colonies, and spheres of influence. Just a few decades later, however, World War II, however, left the colonial powers bankrupt and looking to get out of the empire business as quickly as possible, regardless of the consequences.

The Rhyme of History: Lessons from the Great War (multimedia)

While 1914 may seem like ancient history, MacMillan reminds us that the world today has much in common with the world one century ago—where sectarian quarrels transformed into global conflicts.  For an unsettling parallel in time, MacMillan points to the modern Middle East and reminds us that even when history doesn’t repeat, it often rhymes.

This essay by historian Margaret MacMillan and published by the Brookings Institute is enhanced with graphics, videos, and interactives.


Ten Steps to Syria-Lebanon Ties

Presents an explanation of 10 stages through which the two purportedly fraternal Arab countries have passed since they both gained independence after WWII.

The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Cheryl Rubenberg reviews The Balfour Declaration, by Jonathan Schneer, a book which provides an in-depth look at the process by which the document that birthed the State of Israel came about and situates it in the whole of British Middle East policy during World War I.

The Question of Palestine and the United Nations

UN displays their plans and thoughts on the conflict.

The Treaty of Sevres: The End of the Ottoman Empire

The Treaty of Sèvres was signed with the Ottoman Empire after the end of World War One. The terms of the Treaty of Sèvres were harsh and many in the Ottoman Empire were left angered and embittered by their treatment.

Treaties and Documents from WWI and its Aftermath

WWI Shapes the Middle East

This tutorial from Khan Academy includes 5 videos that take us from a declining Ottoman Empire to the modern Middle East which is still the center of many religions, cultures and conflicts.

100 Years of Middle East History (text)

Your Middle East has compiled a list of the events that have shaped the Middle East and North Africa during the past century, between 1912-2012.

1001 Inventions and the Library of Secrets (video)

Three school children visit a dusty library to research the story of ‘The Dark Ages’. What they find changes their world view dramatically as ingenious inventors and pioneers of science and culture are vividly brought to life.

Starring Oscar-winning legend Sir Ben Kingsley in the role of The Librarian, this astounding movie provides an eye-opening introduction to the 1001 Inventions initiative and is the centrepiece for the global touring exhibition.

15 Minute History (audio)

15 Minute History is a podcast—with supplementary materials—about World and US history. This is a joint project of Hemispheres, the international outreach consortium at the University of Texas at Austin, and Not Even Past, a website with articles on a wide variety of historical issues, produced by the History Department at the University of Texas at Austin.

This podcast series is devoted to short, accessible discussions of important topics in World History and US History. The discussions will be conducted by the award winning faculty and graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin.

European Imperialism in the Middle East (audio)

In these two podcasts, guest and co-host Christopher Rose from UT’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies walks us through the beginnings of European imperialism in the Middle East and discusses the lingering effects of 20th century European imperialism in the region and the transition to independence.

Global Education Through Film: Teaching History Through Film (audio)

Richard Paxton, Professor of Education at Pacific University Oregon, speaks at a workshop for educators that focused on the use of film to teach about international topics in the K-12 classroom.

Global Education Through Film: Teaching History Through Film

History of the Modern Middle East (audio)

A collection of podcasts by Richard Bulliet, professor at Columbia University.  They cover the history of the Middle East from the 18th century until the present, examining the region ranging from Morocco to Iran and including the Ottoman Empire. They focus on transformations in the states of the region, external intervention, and the emergence of modern nation-states, as well as aspects of social, economic, cultural and intellectual history of the region.

History of the Ottoman Empire (audio)

The Ottoman Empire has long captured the public imagination in a way that few other royal houses and empires have managed to do. From the days when its armies threatened the gates of Vienna, its long-rumored decline as the “sick man of Europe,” and the Taksim demonstrations of 2013 when Turkish Prime Minsiter Erdoğan was accused of “neo-Ottomanism,” the legacy that the Empire left is long and vast. But who were the Ottomans? Why were they so successful?  And why have they lasted so long in the public’s imagination?

Listen to these two podcasts from 15 Minute History

  • History of the Ottoman Empire, part 1
  • History of the Ottoman Empire, part 2

Iran’s Perilous Path (multimedia)

A multimedia story that chronicle the history of Iran through pictures, from Reza Shah Pahlavi to Ahmadinejad.

The Legacy of Nonviolent Movements in Iran (video)

This film takes a look into the two most recent mass movements in Iran’s history: the 1979 Revolution that brought the clerics to power, and the 2009 mass protests, known as the Green Movement, that threatened the foundation of the same clerical rule.

The Middle East and the West: A Troubled History (audio)

In a special six-part series, NPR’s Mike Shuster examines and long and turbulent history Western involvement in the Middle East.  Each episode includes a written story as well as a short podcast.

  1. 1098-1291: The Crusades: Two Centuries of Holy War
  2. 1453 – 1683: The Rise of the Ottoman Empire
  3. 1783 – 1912: Europe Carves Up the Middle East
  4. 1914 – 1936: World War I and its Aftermath
  5. 1945 – 1973: The Rise of the U.S. in the Middle East
  6. 1979 – 2003:  The Clash with Islam

Revolutions of 2011: Why Middle East History Matters (audio)

Professor Juan Cole lectures on historical antecedents to the recent revolutions in the Middle East. Panel discussion with Richard Chambers, Will Hanley, David A. Michelson and Juan Cole.

The Rhyme of History: Lessons from the Great War (multimedia)

While 1914 may seem like ancient history, MacMillan reminds us that the world today has much in common with the world one century ago—where sectarian quarrels transformed into global conflicts.  For an unsettling parallel in time, MacMillan points to the modern Middle East and reminds us that even when history doesn’t repeat, it often rhymes.

This essay by historian Margaret MacMillan and published by the Brookings Institute is enhanced with graphics, videos, and interactives.


Storm from the East: The Struggle Between the Arab World and the Christian West (video)

In order to understand the Arab mistrust of the United States and of the West in general , we must study the turbulent history of the relations between the Christian and Muslim world, particularly the clashes and betrayals since World War I.  This video comes from the Carnegie Council for International Ethics. Transcript and audio available on the site.

The Travels of Ibn Battuta (multimedia)

An interactive website in which students can follow in the footsteps of Ibn Battuta, the famous 14th century explorer.

Who are the Turks? (audio)

Over the past two thousands years, the Turkic peoples have migrated and expanded from a small group of pastoral nomads in what is now western China to form Islam’s longest lasting empire, six modern nation-states that bear their names, and large minorities across Eurasia. But … who are the Turks? Do they even form a coherent social category? Where did they come from? And what makes them “Turk”ish?

A podcast from 15 Minute History.

World Digital Library (images)

The World Digital Library makes available significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.

British Slaves on the Barbary Coast

British role in the slave trade in North Africa.

Crisis Guide: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

An in-depth, multimedia look at the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its geopolitical repercussions.

Dreams in the Desert: Making the Modern Middle East

This powerpoint presentation reviews the history of the modern Middle East, from the end of the Ottoman Empire to the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Egypt’s Golden Empire

These lesson plans and the accompanying video clips are designed to showcase some of the most intriguing and historically significant people, places, and events from the film and Egyptian history.

Explorers, Traders and Immigrants: Tracking the Cultural and Social Effects of the Global Commodity Trade

This unit examines eight global commodities from their points of origin and the social, cultural, political, and economic changes they have wrought along their way. Each case study encompasses four “stops” along the commodity’s journey: its initial discovery and/or access; its progress from local good to international trade; the ramifications of large-scale production; and the drama of its boom-and-bust cycles through the years.

Developed by the University of Texas at Austin.

Exploring Islamic Lands

In this lesson students explore what it’s like to be a teenager living today in an Islamic country in the Middle East. They will begin by gaining background information about the religion and the region from which it sprang by using the PBS series ISLAM: EMPIRE OF FAITH and other resources. Once students gain a historical understanding, they choose a particular modern day Middle Eastern country to explore in depth using resources such as the Library of Congress Web site and epals. In the end, they will create a personal narrative of what it’s like to live in that country.

psu logo edited Golden Age of Islamic Achievement

Through this 5 day teaching unit, students will understand the role of Islamic civilization in the medieval world: its geographic and historical context, its achievements, scope and impact.

Lesson 1: History of the Abbasid and Umayyad Dynasties
Lesson 2: Geography of Islamic Expansion
Lesson 3:  Baghdad and Cordoba: Cities of the Golden Age of Islam
Lesson 4:  House of Wisdom—Scholarship in the Abbasid Dynasty
Lesson 5:  Art, Architecture and Scholarship in Muslim Spain

This unit was developed by the Middle East Studies Center and based on the Oregon Social Studies Standards for 7th grade.

House of Wisdom:  A Historical Role Play for High School Students

Through this lesson plan, students explore the role of scientists and scholars at the House of Wisdom.  Designed by Lisa Marie Buoncuore as a part of the  NEH Summer Institute, 2002: The Arab World and the West

Islam: Empire of Faith

This collection of teaching materials serves as a companion to the film Islam: Empire of Faith, available online on youtube.  For more information about the film, click here.

Kurds: People Without a Country, a lesson plan by Lisa Adeli.

The lesson teaches the history and geography of the Kurds through an opening presentation and a short research assignment.
Supplementary materials:

psu logo edited Making the Modern Middle East: World War I & Its Aftermath

This lesson is sequenced to follow a post-World War One focus on the Treaty of Versailles and specifically the creation of the League of Nations.  The Interwar Years and the critical role of the League of Nations would be a unit taught before this focusing on the Mandate System and how territories were shaped by the victors of the war.

Students will need the context of how the victors distributed the spoils of war and drew the geo-political boundaries and the creation of treaties to determine the level of consequence economically, politically and socially.

In addition, it can be carried forth with the emphasis on Turkeys geo-political location as determined to be part of Europe or the Middle East.  Evaluation of this context will require examination of the differing views on this action.


Memory at Work 

This resource contains a variety of materials examining sectarian violence, memory, the civil war and the future of conflict in Lebanon.

Middle Eastern-American Resources Online

This site provides educators, students, and professionals access to a variety of materials about Americans who trace their ancestry to the Middle East. Arabic, Armenian, Iranian, Israeli and Turkish-speaking immigrants and other smaller numeric groups from the Middle East and North Africa have settled in the United States since the late nineteenth century. Together with their descendants, they comprise a diverse and important panethnic community deserving attention and study, especially by America’s precollegiate schools and institutions of higher learning.

Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet

This collection of teaching materials serves as a companion to the film Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, available online free.  Developed by the Center for Islamic Education.

Nineteenth-Century American Merchants in the Indian Ocean

The three lessons provide primary source materials that introduce students to US political and economic diplomacy, to the ships and sailing personnel that made journeys to the Indian Ocean and current day Oman possible, and to the shape of American and foreign commerce during the early 19th to the shape of American and foreign commerce during the early 19th century.

Operation Ajax

This digital novel tells the story of the CIA efforts to overthrow the government of Iran in 1953, packaged as an interactive digital graphic novel that offers a range of multimedia elements seamlessly woven together.

Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean

This collection of 6 teaching modules features resources for teaching about the role of the Mediterranean as a commercial and cultural ecosystem in past eras, as well as lesson materials on the present and prospects for the future. Given the unique geography of the transitions currently underway in the Middle East (several geographically contiguous North African states) and the likelihood that interactions between Europe, northern Africa, Turkey, and the Arab world will constitute a vitally important sub-region of globalization going forward, new cross-Mediterranean tendrils of economic and civil society connectivity will be necessary to help anchor these transitions.

Resources for Use in AP World History

A collection of resources for use in AP World History classes. Created by the Center for Middle East Studies at University of Arizone

Rethinking the Region: New Approaches to the 9-12 US Curriculum on the Middle East and North Africa

This curriculum was born out of an extensive analysis of textbooks used in US high schools to teach about the MENA region. The authors identified five themes and developed detailed, web-based teaching materials to offer robust alternatives to 9-12 teachers.  The themes are as follows:

  • Women & Gender
  • Plural Identities
  • Empire & Nation
  • Political & Social Movements
  • Arts & Technology

Revolt! Comparing Historical Revolutions

In this lesson, students work together to define revolution and engage in research to help them create infographics that represent various historical revolutions around the world.

psu logo edited Roots of Revolution

by Kwen Peterson (Arab Spring-6th grade-History). In this lesson, students consider what causes a revolution by looking at revolutions through history and comparing them to 2010-2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

Sailing the Great Sand Sea

In this unit, students will understand the ways in which North African traders were able to adapt to the harsh environment of the Sahara desert in order to extract natural resources and engage in trans-desert trade for economic gain. They will understand: (1) the factors that define a desert and the different types of deserts; (2) that the introduction of the camel to North Africa provided a solution that made trans-Saharan trade possible; and (3) the natural resources available in the desert and the advantages to be had from harnessing them.

Content developed by the University of Texas at Austin

Slavery in Ottoman Egypt

By the 19th century, slavery was a well-known and well-defined institution in the Egypt, at that time a province of the Ottoman Empire. For most of the 19th century, the slave population of Egypt was between 20,000 and 30,000 out of a total population of five million. The number of slaves in Cairo, a city of a quarter-million people, was estimated to be between 12,000 and 15,000 at any given point until 1877. Yet, slavery in Egypt took on quite a different form than it did in the Americas. Learn more about slavery in an Islamic emirate.

Developed by the University of Texas at Austin

Slavery in the Swahili Emirates of East Africa

In 1828 Sultan Seyyed Said of Oman moved his court from Muscat in Arabia to the island of Zanzibar (in present day Tanzania) in order to establish a royal monopoly on clove production. Zanzibari society was Swahili and Muslim, which provided a rigid social and legal framework for the slave trade and the practice of slavery locally. Slaves have certain legal rights under Islamic law that their counterparts elsewhere did not enjoy. However, the constrictions of society and demands of the booming Zanzibari economy in the mid-19th century meant that the laws were neither evenly applied nor always followed. Learn more about the practice of slavery in Africa itself, and how the institution managed to persevere into the 20th century.

Developed by the University of Texas at Austin

Teaching about Refugees

This page hosts sample lesson plans and resources for teachers to use in designing a unit about refugees and forced displacement. The project derives itself from field research completed in Jordan and Lebanon during May and June 2013. These lessons are aimed at secondary school students.

Teaching about Rights: Historical Context, Contemporary Challenges

Comprehensive curriculum materials produced by the University of Texas at Austin. This lesson covers the history of human rights around the world, including the Middle East and North Africa.

Teaching the Middle East: A Resource for Educators

Scholars from the University of Chicago developed this teacher resource to provide an overview of Middle Eastern cultures and their contributions to the world.

The Arab World: Islam and Feminism in the Age of the Arab Renaissance

From the unit “Restoring Women to World Studies” from the University of Texas at Austin.

The Aswan High Dam in Egypt

Students will understand that: (1) the construction of the Aswan High Dam has had both positive and negative effects on the physical environment in Egypt; (2) the construction of the Aswan High Dam has both been an example of humans changing the environment in order to meet their needs and an example of the geography adapting itself in return; and (3) the issues involved in sharing and allocating water resources between nations and the variety of strains put on available water resources are complex.

Resource developed by the University of Texas at Austin.

The Middle East after World  War I:  Drawing Boundaries,  Dividing a Region  And Creating a Crisis 

The Middle East, as we know it today, was created out of the six-hundred year-old Ottoman Empire. The empire came to an end at the conclusion of World War I. This geography and history simulation examines why the Allied Powers drew the boundaries and divided the region as they did, with little understanding of the populations alienated or the political tensions created.

In Part I of this lesson plan, the history/geography introduces the region to the learner. Part II uses this information in a role play. Within their roles, participants are asked to analyze the level of frustration or ‘fever’ their region experiences, because of the decisions made and the actions taken by the Allied powers. They register their rising frustration on a ‘fever’ chart. The unit concludes by analyzing whether the ‘fever’ charts reflect where actual conflicts and wars have broken out in the past 70 years, since the drawing of the boundaries and the dividing of the region.

psu logo edited The Middle East and WWI

These 3 lessons is meant to be the finale of a larger unit on the Middle East

The first lesson gives students the opportunities to put themselves in the shoes of those people who were affected by the imperialism and colonialism of the great powers. Students decide how the region should be divided up, and who should get what based on the goals and ideals of the actual people who lived in the Middle East.

In the second lesson, students learn about the imperial history of the region, looking at the series of overlapping treaties and agreements after the First World War, and creating a comprehensive class map of the region as it was in 1925. Students will investigate the “why” of colonialism, and delve into the reasons the UK and France (but also Russia, Italy, the US, and Turkey) were so interested in the region.

In the third, culminating lesson the students will use the background given by the other two lessons as a lens to look at the Middle East today. What conflicts are there? What were the causes of the conflicts? In a class discussion, students will discuss the plausibility of the goal of “peace in the Middle East,” and will create their own maps of a “conflict-free” Middle East.

World War I in the Middle East – Analyzing Primary Sources

This lesson challenges students to develop their reading, writing and critical thinking skills through the use of primary sources about World War I and the modern Middle East.

Lesson Plan
Document Analysis Sheet
Documents – Diaries and Memoirs
Documents – Photos and Artwork 1, 2, 3
Newspaper Accounts – 1, 2, 34, 5, 6, 7, 8

Materials produced by Lisa Adeli, Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona.


World War I in the Middle East- Museum Research Project

Students work in pairs or small groups to create a project that becomes part of a ‘museum’, either a physical exhibit or an online one, to share with other classes, their families and the community.

Lesson Plan
Overview of World War I in the Middle East
List of Projects
Assignment for Students
List of Resources
Museum Viewers’ Assignment

Materials produced by Lisa Adeli, Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona.


WWI Shapes the Middle East

This tutorial from Khan Academy includes 5 videos that take us from a declining Ottoman Empire to the modern Middle East which is still the center of many religions, cultures and conflicts.