We return to the land of the Maya, to visit their most stunning artistic achievement. The stelae of Copán, many constructed to honor Waxaklajuun Ubaad Kawiil, 13th king of the city, are remarkably intricate, humanist yet fantastic. His reign marked the highest point and also the lowest, as within decades of his untimely death, Copán and the other Classic Mayan cities would be abandoned. Or were they?
Listener Richard Dennis describes his impressions of visiting Copán and traditional Honduran cuisine: beans and tortillas, culminating in the baleada. And we can't talk about Honduras without discussing the Football War.
Bunce, Steve. “How a World Cup qualifier and the suicide of a young girl launched the bloody 100 Hour Football War” in the Independent.
Earley, Caitlin C. “The Mesoamerican Ballgame” at Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Timeline of Art History.
Footprint Handbook: Honduras
Martin, Simon and Nikolai Grube. Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya
Moon Handbook to Honduras and the Bay Islands
Schele, Linda and Peter Mathews. The Code of Kings : the Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs
Webster, David L. The Fall of the Ancient Maya: Solving the Mystery of the Maya Collapse
Photo by Dennis Jarvis on wikicommons
After the Muslims exploded onto the scene in the 7th century, they learned that anyone can take a empire, but holding an empire is another matter entirely. We go to Syria, where Damascus served as the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate. The Umayyads were the family who eventually took control following the turmoil of finding successors to Muhammad.
Ali A Olomi, historian and host of Head on History, rejoins us to take us into the next phase of Muslim history, in which the rich and connected Banu Umayya demonstrate the durability of hegemony: after every revolution, the elite and connected always come back in the end.
The Umayyads may get a bad rap in places, but they left an enduring empire in their wake, best shown in the remarkable mosque in their capital.
While we discuss the splendor and tragedy of Damascus, try some tabbouleh, my all-time favorite salad.
Armstrong, Karen. Islam: a Short History.
Donner, Fred McGraw. Muhammad and the Believers: at the Origin of Islam
Ingraham, Christopher. “How rising inequality hurts everyone, even the rich” in Washington Post
Keenan, Brigid. Damascus: Hidden Treasures of the Old City
Kennedy, Hugh. Caliphate: the History of an Idea
Bradt guide to Syria
Footprint Syria handbook
Photograph by wikipedia user Aladdin