The Great Divide

In the Arabian peninsula, non-Muslim groups were converted, driven out or killed by Islamic armies. In Syria, they were not.

When All Roads Led to Palmyra

The desert city of Palmyra, ravaged recently by ISIS, held a key position on the Silk Route, connecting the Chinese, Persian and Roman Empires. Raoul McLaughlin describes how a remote caravan settlement assumed a leading role in international affairs, generating enormous wealth. 

Dura Europos

Findings at a desert site in eastern Syria shed light on pagan, Jewish and early Christian religions.

The Mamluk Sultans: 1250-1517

During the Mamluk Sultanate, writes P.M. Holt, men imported as slaves and trained as warriors became rulers of a great Islamic state.

The Defence of Acre, 1799

Christopher Lloyd describes how, trying to fight his way from Egypt to Constantinople, Bonaparte was checked by Sidney Smith’s defence.

St Simeon Stylites

Sarah Searight introduces the fifth century ascetic whose long life on top of a pillar attracted thousands of worshippers.