Wikijunior:Ancient Civilizations/Arabian

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When did Arabian civilization exist?[edit]

The earliest known mention of Arabian people was in 853 BC where they were listed as one of the peoples defeated by the Assyrians. By about 400 AD there were a couple of firmly established Arab civilizations. Arab based civilizations still exist today.

Where did they live?[edit]

Arabs lived in the Middle East. At present there are more than 20 Arabian countries which are situated in Africa and Asia. They stretch from Western Sahara to the border of Turkey, an area the size of approximately 5.25 million square miles.

Agriculture is the primary economic activity in the Arab world. The most important food crops are wheat, barley, rice, maize and millet. Some of the Arabs countries have a vast reserve of natural oil.

The Middle East, where the Arabs settled, was previously the region where man first moved into a settled form of society, cultivating grain and raising livestock, establishing cities and promoting diverse skills and occupations. In such a setting, rich and complex cultures were nourished. Eventually Arabs spread through and settled in the Middle East, northern Africa, and the Iberian peninsula.

The Middle East is also the area of the establishment of three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Today, all three religions are found worldwide.

What did they eat?[edit]

Arabs used to eat foods like many other Mediterranean people, including homemade bread, dates and olives. Arabic food can rival any culture's food for originality and taste, and, because it basically comprises simple, natural and easily digested foodstuffs, it ranks high in nutritional value with today's fitness-conscious society. The Moors of Spain were the first people who introduced 12 course dinners to the world.

What did they wear?[edit]

Arabs used to wear very beautifully designed clothes. Traditionally men used to wear knee-long cloaks. The Bisht or Aba is a traditional loose cloak popular among them, usually worn on top of the Thobe. Also, men wore headbands along with a turban. Women used to wear something that resembled a long maxi. It is traditional that Arab women cover themselves with a special type of clothing called a Jillbab.

Arab clothing is diverse, and some Arabs dress like Western Europeans.

What did their writing look like?[edit]

Arabic writes from right to left unlike English which writes from left to right. Arabic has a 28 letter Alphabet. Basically it does not have any dedicated vowels and later some of the letters have been identified as vowels for the convenience of the foreigners who converted to Islam as most of the Islamic scriptures are in Arabic. Arabic writing is similar to Hebrew writing and they even share almost similar sounds of their alphabets.

Arabic numerals are the ten digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). They came to the Arabs from Indian mathematicians through their Persian neighbors. The numerals changed shape as they were passed along. By the time they reached North Africa, they had their modern shapes. From there they were transmitted to Europe. The numerals then spread all around the world. Today, they are the most common type of number symbols.

What do they believe?[edit]

Ancient Arabs were polytheistic pagan people, that means they believed in many gods and every natural phenomenon had its own god. From all the gods they believed in, the sun god and the moon god were most important.

Modern Arabs are predominantly Muslim. They believe in a single God, as do Christians and Jews. Today, there are also millions of Arabs who are Christians.

What did their buildings look like?[edit]

Ancient Arabs used to live in houses made of mud and wood. Many Arabs preferred to live in tents, particularly the nomadic Arabs. Legend says that the first building of Arabia was the Holy Kaaba, the house of God, which was first built by the Prophet Adam and later rebuilt by the prophets Abraham and Ishmael in its original site.

There are also two groups of Muslims: Sunni and Shia. The reason why there are two different types of Muslims is because there was a debate over who should be the successor of Mohammed. The Sunni believe that Ali was the fourth Caliph, the leader of all Muslims, and that the Caliphs that come after him would be elected; the Shia believe that the Caliph should always be a direct descendant of Ali himself. Despite their differences, the Sunni and Shia still share a common belief in the fundamentals of their religion, and recognize each other as Muslims.

Are some of them famous even today?[edit]

Yes, many of them are famous today. They are mainly famous in Muslim world.