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From Spice Routes to the Space Age
Patterns of living in the ancient and modern Middle East

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Long-heralded as the birthplace of civilization, the rich historical and archaeological heritage of the Middle East gives us the template for the development of civilization and society that carries us into the 21st century. We will explore the development of humankind via the evolution of its patterns of living.

1) The rise of ancient urbanism- Trace the development of society as it moves from hunting and gathering to urban life nearly 9000 years ago. What is a transhumant society anyway?

2) The ancient city- When did people decide to live together, and why? Through the archaeological record, explore the first cities and their nature. As the real estate agent said in 3100 BCE, "location..location..location."

3) The bedouin- Called the "most noble of societies", this semi-nomadic lifestyle is centuries-old; yet faces the challenge of modernity. Low overhead, lots of fresh air, freedom of movement.... sounds appealing?

4) The communal environment- The concept of socialism swept portions of the Middle East, notably Israel, at the end of the 19th Century. The concept of the collective farms, Kibbutzim and Moshavim, is unique to the region. Do we truly want to have everything supplied for us?

5) The village- "Small-town" living is the core of life in the Arab world. It is the primary focus of Mid East society with a majority of the population living here. For the most part insulated from the greater world, is life really easier and less stressful?

6) The city- The notion of city and urban society is entirely different in the West than in the Mid East. The Arab city had a mystique all of its own, and for a reason. This changed with the colonialism of European society in the early 19th Century. On the other hand, the Israeli city model is one that westerners feel the most comfortable with.

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