Moors and Saracens

Well, yes, OK.

It is not only the twin towers and rose window that have their origins in the Middle East, she pointed out, but also the ribbed vaults, pointed arches and even the recipe for stained glass windows. Gothic architecture as we know it owes much more to Arab and Islamic heritage than it does to the rampaging Goths. “I was astonished at the reaction,” says Darke. “I thought more people knew, but there seems to be this great gulf of ignorance about the history of cultural appropriation. Against a backdrop of rising Islamophobia, I thought it was about time someone straightened out the narrative.”

See a good idea, copy it, why not? It’s only those worried about cultural appropriation – which we don’t – that would, erm, worry.

They might want to have left out this example though:

“Notre-Dame’s architectural design, like all gothic cathedrals in Europe, comes directly from Syria’s Qalb Lozeh fifth-century church,” Darke tweeted on the morning of 16 April, as the dust was still settling in Paris. “Crusaders brought the ‘twin tower flanking the rose window’ concept back to Europe in the 12th century.”

You know, as the 5th century predates the entire idea of Moors and Islam and Saracens?

51 thoughts on “Moors and Saracens”

  1. ” They are beacons of western civilisation. But, says an explosive new book, the designs of Europe’s greatest buildings were plundered from the Islamic world – twin towers, rose windows, vaulted ceilings and all”

    I’m fairly sure that the Byzantines were Christian, Greek speaking Romans and therefore part of Western Civilisation. The Arabic inhabitants would have been pagan or Christian at the time too. This idea that the Middle East was a hostile, alien place is a largely post-Islamic one.

    And of course let’s not forget that every mosque with a dome is copying Roman/ Byzantine architecture.

  2. Heads on coins version of history. Islam’s a religion of goat shaggers out of the deserts of Arabia. Could possibly sew you up a fair tent. Goths were herders out of Asia, could knock up a wattle & daub hovel on a good day. Both lots wielded a mean sword. The architecture was done by the descendants of the same people who did the architecture for the Romans & the Carthaginians. Who were descendants of of the ones did for the Etruscans, the Greeks & any one else needed architecture doing.
    Same with most of history. The rulers change. The people do the stuff makes a civilisation, not nearly so much.

  3. bloke in spain,

    Yeah. The whole “Islam gave us”. No, there was some guy born with talents in a country. One religion often grasps the money and pays for Bach to write St Matthew Passion, but if it had been another religion, Bach would have written for them.

  4. Somewhere there is a thick white racist who thinks that Caucasians are uniquely intelligent and created every conceivable cultural artifact and lived prosperous peaceable lives while the rest of the world lived in mud huts.

    The Guardian has spent millions trying to track him down and give him a good telling off.

  5. Not sure about the arts, BoM4. You’re not going to get much in the way of realistic portraiture out of Islam. Maybe because its god gets offended by the representation of the human form. Or maybe, if your best attempts look like a year one & two classroom wall, you’re better off banning it for everyone else. Ragheads heavily favour percussion.
    It’s the crafts. You can’t build a civilisation without them. And they’re a lot harder to learn than waving a sword about. They rest on centuries of knowledge & development. Much the same as agriculture. You need the agricultural toolkit for where you are. Or you don’t eat. Importing herding traditions from the steppes to Andalucia isn’t going to work, even if you’re a Visigoth. You might get to rule, but dinner’s provided by the locals.

  6. Syria today is of course a beacon of inclusive and diverse tolerant multiculturalism where the churches are in good repair and archbishops of both Catholic and Orthodox churches are warmly welcomed to interfaith gatherings of, …

    Oh.

  7. Apart from having a direction for prayer, there doesn’t appear to be anything about mosque construction that derives from Arabia. Indeed even that idea appears to originate in pre-Islamic paganism.
    Clearly there is nothing about Christian architecture derived from Islam.
    And outside of architecture, the “arabic” numerals were burrowed from the hindu.
    Much Islamic belief was borrowed from Syriac or Nestorian Christians, or Zoroastrianism. With some particular bits added.
    One could go on, but basically either Islamic culture was dictated by Gabriel and is contained in the Koran, in which case anything outside the Koran is not particularly Islamic. Or it all derived from pre-existing ideas.

  8. BoM4: but if it had been another religion, Bach would have written for them

    I very much doubt that – there is a whole cultural context to the work of any artist to which Christianity would have been integral in Europe until quite recently.

    Our modern religions: climate science, the NHS and leapfrogging wokeness lack the power to inspire great art¹ so thank goodness we have Bach, Chartres cathedral and all the stuff from the discarded religion to fall back on.

    ____
    1) Danny Boyle is Busby Berkley but without the talent or the humour.

  9. This is absolute drivel, the article fails on almost every point. It is like Civilisation had never been made.

    Has she looked at Hagia Sophia or Aachen Cathedral ? Has she spoken to an engineer about the statical advantages of Gothic arches over round ones ? Does she know what a flying buttrees is ?
    Has she ever been to Italy ?

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Sam Vara August 13, 2020 at 9:24 am – “Somewhere there is a thick white racist who thinks that Caucasians are uniquely intelligent and created every conceivable cultural artifact and lived prosperous peaceable lives while the rest of the world lived in mud huts.”

    You don’t say? You don’t say?

    “The Guardian has spent millions trying to track him down and give him a good telling off.”

    They ain’t found me yet.

    The problem is that the Aryan view, if we can call it that, is, you know, more or less true. Modern historians go out of their way to praise anything that non-Whites do and ignore anything White people do. They want to praise the non-existent. Well, almost non-existent. The Chinese did give us gunpowder, paper, the compass and printing. That is true.

    But the Greeks knew the world was round. Who else did? The Chinese were greatly impressed by Euclid when they met him – and no one else had anything even remotely comparable.

    When the West got its act together, technology in the rest of the world was mostly confined to advanced – and very aesthetically pleasing – brick work, and metal objects to stab each other with. They were happy with that for 2000 years. How many years separate the
    West discovering printing and putting a man on the moon?

    No other civilisation has got remotely close to something like the Saturn V rocket.

    And the interesting thing is that the gap has not closed much.

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    Ben S August 13, 2020 at 9:38 am – “One could also say that starting a new Abrahamic religion was cultural appropriation…”

    Especially as Muhammed kept insisting the Jews got Judaism wrong and he was there to correct them. Muslims still insist Jews and Christians are lying about what Moses and Jesus really said.

    I might cook Jamaican goat curry from time to time. But I don’t insist mine, with its wider range of non-Caribbean ingredients – is the real thing and everyone in the Caribbean is wrong.

  12. SMFS,

    White people have never made up more than about 10% of the global population. It would be interesting to see what proportion of inventions, economic growth and the arts, White people are responsible for. I think it’s fair to say that it would be massively disproportionate on the positive side. Certain races would be massively disproportionate on the negative side.

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    DocBud August 13, 2020 at 11:45 am – “It would be interesting to see what proportion of inventions, economic growth and the arts, White people are responsible for. I think it’s fair to say that it would be massively disproportionate on the positive side. Certain races would be massively disproportionate on the negative side.”

    I am not comfortable with openly racist arguments, but the evidence is the evidence. There are entire fields where no non-White had made a serious contribution until the modern period and even then they usually only do these days on teams.

    Centuries of piddling about with alchemy got people – including the West – where exactly? Did they successfully identify a single element? Or even know what that meant? Then the West discovers chemistry. How, I do not know. How it is different I also do not know. But suddenly the West is doing something radically different and leaving everyone else behind in the dust.

    Mathematics? Everyone does something but nothing serious. Except the West. Does Engineering even exist outside the West?

    So race is not a good answer – not because it is politically unacceptable but because it is not a good fit. But suddenly the West became capable of magic and no one else did. Perhaps it was aliens trying to help?

  14. “West discovering printing and putting a man on the moon?”
    You get one out of two, SMfS. Chinese claim to have invented printing

    Except. Look at what printing is. Making something will produce a repeatable design on a surface. People had been doing that with ceramics long before there were Chinese. Moveable type? One you get the idea of printing, it’s a logical step.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain August 13, 2020 at 12:04 pm – “You get one out of two, SMfS. Chinese claim to have invented printing”

    Actually I get both. Clumsy phrasing. China invents printing first. A long time before anyone else. The West much later independently, as far as I can see, invents it a second time.

    The point is China uses the invention of printing to produce … bureaucracy. The West also comes up with printing around 1450. Just 500 years later they split the atom.

    What were the Chinese doing 500 years after inventing printing (first)?

  16. We have a confluence of vanities.
    The Guardian thinks of itself as more sophisticated than everyone else and pushes obscure facts to promote that view.
    The Muslims think themselves better than everyone else and do likewise.
    Sadly they mostly get their facts wrong. Comes from trying too hard.
    BTW there were Saracens before Islam, they weren’t Muslim though.

  17. SMFS,

    The racist arguments are made from those who keep banging on about White privilege without explaining how Whites, as no more than 10% of the population, attained this privilege. I work with non-White people who are leaders in their field, but they’re not the sort of people who would be crying about White privilege or being disadvantaged.

  18. Can’t resist adding
    According to the Hadith Mohammed was white. Both in general appearance, and explicitly his armpits, shins, thighs, etc.
    So unless you think he had a black bottom (not described), or reject Islam, then Islam is a white religion.

  19. Thomas Woods the Acts 17 youtube channeller and RoP expert also confirms this.

    Some dude was looking for Mo and jumped off his camel and asked Mo’s pals “Who among you is called Mohammd?”. The chums reply “That white man leaning on his elbow over there”.

  20. Usual Guardian Islamophiliac pandering – just like the risible 1000 Islamic inventions and the Islamic Golden age. It’s now the Guardian default position along with everything about the Uk is crap – no matter how many times they proclaim that the UK has the most Covid cases in Europe – belgium still leads on per capita cases.

    If Islam is so great why are the islamic countries I’ve visited shitholes ?

  21. “White people have never made up more than about 10% of the global population.”
    …but tended to have a higher participation ratio. Not so many mere peasants or herders as in the rest of the world. More Clerks, Clerics, Peddlers, Traders and Journeymen.
    Maybe it was the influence of the Church?

  22. “Islam’s a religion of goat shaggers out of the deserts of Arabia.” Or not: there are revisionists who make decent arguments that Mo and his merry men didn’t come from deep in the peninsula, but from the edge of cultivation in what is now Israel/Palestine/Jordan.

    They also think that Mecca wasn’t the Holy City: Petra was.

    No doubt once Mo’s army was successful then they’d recruit ruffians from the desert.

  23. Anyhoo, much “Islamic” civilisation seems to have come from the Christian Greeks/Byzantines and from the Zoroastrian Persians. Though, to be fair, the Arabs spread it about a bit before they fell into some sort of cultural Dark Age – the triumph of the Mullahs presumably.

  24. Surely Mo had enough of a suntan to make it at least surprising that he might have been considered a honkey.

  25. If Mo came from where the revisionists think he came from, then presumably he might well have had the same skin colour as Jesus – or as modern day Christian Palestinians or Christian Lebanese. That is, a range of colours is possible but a swarthy white is likely.

  26. @ SMFS
    What enabled Christendom and the more enlightened Muslim communities to discover science was the belief that God had made laws about how physical objects behaved and it was possible (“nay, our duty” some said) to discover them. It is not only the case that white men have made a disproportionate number of scientific discoveries – since the Reformation English Anglican clergymen have made a disproportionate number of the scientific discoveries by white men.
    Those who believe in magic and/or fickle gods are ill-equipped to make scientific discoveries.

  27. I shouldn’t put too much emphasis on Mo’s being white. Charles II (as Prince Charles when being pursued by Cromwell’s mob) was described as a “black man” due to his black hair and sallow complexion. Mo might have been described as white because prematurely grey.

    Likewise I’m not going to take much credit for being white. I didn’t discover the universal laws of motion, DNA etc personally.

  28. John77: exactly.

    “Lord of wisdom, whom obeying
    Mighty waters ebb and flow,
    While unhasting, undelaying,
    Planets on their courses go:
    In thy laws thyself displaying,
    Teach our minds thyself to know.”

  29. The main thing Islam did that has benefited the rest of us, was to preserve a good deal of Greek classical learning, which would otherwise have been lost. They added a few footnotes while the West was engaged in the ‘Dark Ages’, but that’s about all it amounts to.

  30. Simply, if you believe the Hadith Mohammed was white. His face, his neck, his shins, his thighs, his armpits. Far too many references for it to be accidental or down to old age.
    Of course you could discount the Hadith as they were written 200 years after his death, but that eliminates a hell of a lot of Islamic doctrine and all its tradition.

  31. “you could discount the Hadith as they were written 200 years after his death”: one of the funniest things I read O/L last year was the reply of a chap who was asked his religion. “Koranic Islam” he said.

  32. @Jonathan
    Race baiters dismiss all history before RoP as a fable – ISIS destroys any pre-RoP history they encounter

    @Ottokring
    Answer to all is No

    Has she never seen a drawing/photo of the Parthenon or doric, ionic and corinthian columns (primary school history)?

    There’s a Parthenon on Calton Hill in Edinburgh

    Had to check if Guardian as Times & Tele as bad

  33. @SMFS
    “that the gap has not closed much”

    I don’t believe they want to catch-up – Africa abandoned railways left for them. However, they want us to regress

    @DocBud
    Spot on

    @NDReader
    I’d say The Church had positives and negatives:
    A + masonry to build huge churches
    A – Spanish inquisition

    For UK, Edward I to Henry VI eliminating wolves made us different. Henry VIII breaking ties with Rome started the revolution of freedom, independence & faster progress

  34. “but if it had been another religion, Bach would have written for them.”

    Except proper Islam. Because music is haram.

    “ Does Engineering even exist outside the West?”

    What I get your general point, don’t overstate it. Of course engineering existed outside the West. And in many ways it was better *in some respects* and *at various times* (especially vs. the relative backwater that England was at the time). The Chinese could do rockets. The Ottomans had better cannon. The Egyptians were kicking butt on architecture for half a millennia before classical Greece even started. All these things required proper engineering, even if they didn’t get to industrial society.

  35. So Much For Subtlety

    Oblong August 13, 2020 at 10:20 pm – “Except proper Islam. Because music is haram.”

    Even the West. When we believed we produced Bach. Now we don’t we produce Little Minx. Sure, we *could* produce another Bach. In theory. But we won’t.

    “Of course engineering existed outside the West. And in many ways it was better *in some respects* and *at various times* (especially vs. the relative backwater that England was at the time). The Chinese could do rockets. The Ottomans had better cannon.”

    Were the Chinese building rockets? You mean firecrackers? There are people in Thailand who build these massive cartwheels powered by firecrackers that rotate into the sky. Brilliant. Very clever. Not engineering. Because they do not know what they are doing. It is all trial and error, rule of thumb, taught at your father’s knee sort of thing.

    Di the Ottomans have better cannon? When? When they took Istanbul they relied on Western technicians.

    “The Egyptians were kicking butt on architecture for half a millennia before classical Greece even started. All these things required proper engineering, even if they didn’t get to industrial society.”

    Did they? They piled pieces of rock on top of each other? I would love to see their calculations. But as aesthetically pleasing as this is – and it often is – in terms of technology shaping rocks to look like Rameses and piling them up into really big piles is not much more than people were doing in the Stone Age. Just on a much bigger scale.

  36. So Much For Subtlety

    Pat August 13, 2020 at 5:26 pm – “Simply, if you believe the Hadith Mohammed was white.”

    Ye4s, white or White though? Pretty much everyone associated pale skin with being able to stay out of the sun because you were rich. So pretty much everyone called people with a pale skin beautiful and, of course, white. South Asians still do. East Asians too. Africans for all I know. But that does not mean they were White. We just do it too and are much better at making it stick.

    dearieme August 13, 2020 at 5:43 pm – “one of the funniest things I read O/L last year was the reply of a chap who was asked his religion. “Koranic Islam” he said.”

    I used to hang around on Islamist websites, you know, as you do. Most of them probably have children in Syria by now. But their rules were simple – Islam is based on three pillars, the Quran, the Hadith and the opinion of scholars, all are equally infallible and to question one is to undermine them all so it is forbidden on pain of death.

    The question is whether your friend belonged to an odd modernising sect that insists on the Quran alone, or is hiding that he is really a member of a small denomination like the Aga Khan’s lot, or he was really weird like the Egyptians who insist that the Quran must be read according to the secret number 19 which makes it all clear.

  37. So Much For Subtlety

    Pcar August 13, 2020 at 7:50 pm – “I don’t believe they want to catch-up – Africa abandoned railways left for them. However, they want us to regress”

    And we are doing a very good job of regressing. This week we learn that it is racist to say 2+2=4. Not from some fringe ghetto loon but from an actual Western tertiary sector educator.

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/math-professor-claims-equation-2-2-4-reeks-of-white-supremacist-patriarchy

    But then look at the young Blacks who won the debate championships a few years back.

  38. @SMFS
    In same article
    “…Rubel’s tweets come after Rutgers University’s English department declared that proper grammar is racist earlier this summer…”

    Regression forges ahead…

  39. @ SMFS
    If you chose not to stop at Stonehenge but to look at some of the earlier, better (and sometimes bigger) neolithic structures upon which Stonehenge was modelled you would find that they required some fairly high-powered mental arithmetic. And if they had written down their calculations, you wouldn’t be able to read them.
    The Appian Way is approximately two thousand years old and is in better nick than most modern roads. So “in terms of technology” which is better?

  40. And weren’t the pyramids lined up pretty well with various stellar combinations? Above and beyond what perhaps might have been expected at that time if they were simply plonking stones on top of one another… To an accuracy where dating can be supported by our current knowledge of earth’s subsequent planetary shifts?

  41. So Much For Subtlety

    john77 August 14, 2020 at 9:17 pm – “If you chose not to stop at Stonehenge but to look at some of the earlier, better (and sometimes bigger) neolithic structures upon which Stonehenge was modelled you would find that they required some fairly high-powered mental arithmetic. And if they had written down their calculations, you wouldn’t be able to read them.”

    Seriously? You put the big rock on the two other big rocks and see if it stands up. Children instinctively do this if given half a chance. Where is the need for calculations? Especially given you seem to concede they did not write any of it down. I would be happy to look at any evidence that they performed any calculations at all. But I doubt they did.

    “The Appian Way is approximately two thousand years old and is in better nick than most modern roads. So “in terms of technology” which is better?”

    The modern road. I prefer the Appian way in aesthetic ways but the problem with Romans is that they were not really good engineers. They over did everything. You put up a aqueduct, you want it to last 60 years. Theirs have lasted 2000 because they were not confident enough to build just strong enough. We do not want modern roads to last 2000 years. We want to build many of them over long distances as chap as possible. And so we get stuck in repair work all the time.

    PF August 14, 2020 at 11:23 pm – “And weren’t the pyramids lined up pretty well with various stellar combinations?”

    Well yes and no. They are aligned north-south. Which Egyptians found by looking at where stars rose and set. They go around the north pole because, well, they don’t but the Earth moves.

    If you align anything north-south it is going to look really cool at certain times of year. But that doesn’t mean they intended it.

  42. @SMFS: I think he meant that the Hadith and so forth are bollocks. He didn’t want to say the same for the Koran, and very possibly didn’t believe that the Koran was bollocks.

  43. The claim is that Gothic architecture all comes from a “fifth-century church”, therefore it is the product of “Islamic heritage”.

    I don’t know enough about architectural history to know whether the basic idea is correct or not, but I am pretty sure that Muslims weren’t designing 5th century churches. Even if we ignore the fact that it was a century before Muhammed.

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