Originally Posted by johnincornwall
Also in keeping with the debate Ferrin regards the islamic conquest/migration/beliefs which took over N Africa and Spain as the real heirs of Rome! Some heavy reading but some interesting takes on the whole thing.
The Ummayad Caliphate as the true successor to Ancient Rome?
Why does Ferrin make this argument?
For me personally, I can see it does make sense. The 'leader of civilisation' role clearly passed from the Roman Empire to the Arabs by c.700AD. From this point on, Byzantium was an impoverished Dark Ages rump state struggling to hold on to Anatolia and parts of the Balkans. The massive Arab Caliphate contained all the richest agricultural land, all the biggest cities, much of the trade wealth on sea and land, and unquestionably dominated the era.
It was in the Arab world that scientific advances continued and progressed beyond the knowledge of the ancients. The Arabs introduced irrigation techniques that boosted agriculture in Spain, Sicily and other areas of their empire. They advanced the study of mathematics and astronomy, built stunning monuments such as the Mezquita in Cordoba and the Alhambra in Granada.
Cordoba was the greatest city in Europe during the early Medieval period, with 450,000 inhabitants. By comparison, London had a mere 12,000. In Sicily, the population of Palermo under the Arabs (c.1000AD) was 150,000. Later, under Christian rule by 1300 the city declined to just 50,000.