Title: Sid Meier's Civilization IV
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: October 25, 2005
Before the spread of Islam and the Arabic language, the term "Arab" referred to any of the nomadic residents of the Arabian Peninsula. When used in a modern context, "Arab" refers to any of the Arabic-speaking peoples who reside on the Atlantic Coast of Africa, Southwestern Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi-Arabia, Syria, and Iraq. The earliest nomadic inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula herded their sheep, goats, and camels through an unforgiving desert environment; while those Arabs who settled in the oases provided date and cereal agriculture as trade staples for Arab caravans that transported spices, ivory, and gold from southern Arabia and the Horn of Africa to the civilizations farther north.
During the 7th century AD, Muhammad emerged as the prophet for the religion of Islam, which was widely adopted by the Arab community. Islam unified the Bedouins and the town-dwellers of the oases, and within a century, spread throughout most of the present day Arab-speaking world. The newfound social organization that followed Islam offered new possibilities for the Arabs as agricultural production and intercity trading, particularly in luxury goods, saw significant increases. Gradually, the triad of temple, court, and market formed, as well as a standardized style of writing for laws and other texts. New institutions also emerged, including coinage, territorial deities, royal priesthoods, and standing armies, which further enhanced Arab power.
By proclaiming his message publicly, Muhammad gained many followers. After his death, the succeeding caliphs continued to spread the faith of Islam far beyond the religion's birthplace in Mecca. Aside from initial conquests in Iraq and Syria, the Arab conquests penetrated regions including Anatolia, Northern Africa, and Iran. Using their Camel Archers to cross difficult desert terrain, the Arabs were able to create an empire stretching from Spain to the borders of India, in barely more than a hundred years. The Arab empire of the medieval period was far more advanced than contemporary Europeans; Harun al-Rashid's Baghdad may have held a million people at the same time that Charlemagne's Aachen was a "capital" of ten thousand. Centers of learning attracted scholars from across the Muslim world to great cities such as Baghdad, Damascus, and Cordoba. The Arabs of this period made many advances in medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and other areas, as well as translating many of the classics of the Ancient Greeks into Arabic, thereby saving them from destruction.
During the period of the Crusades, the Arabic world came under assault from Christian Europe. The greatest of Muslim generals from this period was Salah al-Din, better known as Saladin, who successfully defeated the Third Crusade and recaptured Jerusalem for the Arabs. In addition to his military skills, Saladin was known to be a pious man and was well-respected by his enemies as well as his allies - which was very unusual indeed for the Crusades.
For most of the past five centuries, much of the Arab world has been ruled by foreigners; first by the Ottoman Turks, then by the Western colonial powers. Since the onset of de-colonization in the 1950s, traditional Arab values have been modified through the combined pressures of urbanization, industrialization, and Western influence. While urban Arabs still tend to identify themselves more by nationality than by tribe, village farmers revere the pastoral nomad's romantic way of life and claim a kinship with the great desert tribes of the past. As heirs to the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Hebrews, even to the Greeks and Indians, the societies created by Muslims bridge time and space. The original Arab tribes, in less than 20 years after Muhammad's death, defeated the Byzantine and Persian empires, occupied a vast territory from Libya to Persia, and then developed into the Arab or Islamic Empire known today.
Hundreds of years ago, a group of people calling themselves the Inca settled the Cuzco Valley high in the Andes Mountains of South America. Where they had come from was a mystery that still remains unsolved. Although their purpose for settling such a rugged and inhospitable landscape was unclear, the end result of their arrival is without doubt. In time, the Inca built an empire that spanned the Pacific coast as far south as Argentina and as far north as Ecuador, some 2000 miles of hills, mountains, valleys, and coastline. In just a short time (roughly 100 years), the Incan Empire dominated South America and is, to this day, considered one of the finest empires the world has ever known.
Starting with the ninth ruler, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the Inca began their expansion. Pachacuti won his first military campaign against the Chanca people, consolidated control over his cultural base of Cuzco, then turned his army south and conquered the Colla and Lupaca tribes. Though not the first Incan ruler, Pachacuti was by many accounts one of the finest Pre-Columbian persons that ever lived. It was under the rule of Huayna Capac, however, that the Incan Empire reached its greatest height. When his father died in 1483 and he became emperor in his own right, Capac continued the campaigns of the previous emperor, eventually extending the empire's borders into what is modern Colombia. A dedicated ruler, Huayna did much to improve the lives of his people. In addition to building temples and other works, Huayna greatly expanded the road network, along which he built storehouses for food so that aid could be quickly rushed to any who were in danger of starvation.
Like many other groups that preceded the Inca (the Chimu, the Nazca, the Moche), Incan society was heavily dipped in the worship of powerful gods. Their pantheon contained such lofty omnipotents as Viracocha (the god of creation), Inti (the sun and father of the Inca Dynasty), Illapa (god of rain, thunder, and lightening), Pacha Mama (mother of the earth), and Mama Cocha (mother of the lakes). Grand ceremonies were held frequently to honor these gods, for the Inca believed that if one did not give thanks and obedience to the gods, bad things would happen. The world of the Andes Mountains is full of ecological wonders - and ecological disasters such as earthquakes, severe storms, and volcanic activity. The gods held sway with these events and thus the proper respect had to be paid at all times.
The Inca called their empire Tahuantinsuyu (Land of the Four Quarters), which was divided into four provinces. Each province was controlled by a local governor called the apu; below him were the local rulers - the curacas - and even lower still the district headsmen - the camayoc. Through this governmental structure, the Sapa-Inca could rule the empire with impunity. Additional structures were also put in place, such as the Imperial road system, which was built along the steep inclines of mountains, interspersing bridges and stone walkways, stone steps, and flat brick highways. In addition, way-stations known as tambos were constructed at strategic points along the roads, giving travelers and important dignitaries a place to rest and prepare for the next leg of their journey.
The Incan army was also well organized. When called upon to fight, each province would muster squadrons of men armed with maces, bows and arrows, slings, darts, and spears. These fierce Incan warriors, known as the Quechua, conquered much of the Andes and coastal regions of what is now Peru and Ecuador in the period between 1440 and 1530. During a battle, slingers would let fly a shower of rocks to soften the enemy lines. Then, archers would release their shafts, darts would fly, and then the shock troops would hit, in a torrent of screams and shouts meant to confuse and terrify the wavering opposition. Incan warfare was very successful. But nothing could prepare the empire for what was coming.
After the glorious reign of Huayna Capac, the empire began to erode under a series of internal and external disasters. A bitter civil war between half brothers Huascar and Atahuallpa, the sons of Capac, stretched the empire to the breaking point. Atahuallpa won the war, quickly killed his half-brother, and declared himself king. But, in 1532 AD, Spanish Conquistadors, under the command of Francisco Pizarro, entered the Cajamarca Valley and brutally attacked Atahuallpa and his subjects, killing many and taking the Sapa-Inca hostage. Eventually, Pizarro killed Atahuallpa, pillaged the empire of its riches, and brought an end to the mighty Incan civilization.
Once one of the great centers of Islamic culture and wealth, Mali (which is among the continent's most ancient states outside of North Africa) owes much of its reputation to both its position as a major trading center, and the tax that is levied on its trans-Saharan route. The Mali Empire was located on the Mandinka plateau in West Africa, situated in the southern part of the modern Republic of Mali. It was founded by Sundiata Keita, a Mandinka who led a revolt against the Soso Kingdom, which had dominated the area. Sundiata's life is commemorated in the Epic of Sundiata, a poem of the Mandinka people. It is said that after his victory over the Soso, Sundiata Keita converted to Islam as a gesture of goodwill to the Islamic traders who brought his country wealth. After defeating the Soso, Sundiata pursued an expansionist policy, and soon the Empire covered not only modern Mali, but also extended west to the ocean across what is now Senegal. During war, the Mali often fought as "skirmishers" - soldiers who fanned out in loose formation to protect the main force's flanks or front. The Mali skirmishers were lightly-armed archers in that force, famed for their courage and marksmanship.
The Mali Empire reached its zenith under the rule of Mansa Musa (1312-1337) in the early 14th century. Previously, it had been part of the empire of Ghana, which flourished between the seventh and eleventh centuries, based on the trade of gold from the interior for salt from the coastal regions. Mansa Musa made a famous pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324, laden with gold and slaves to proclaim Mali's prosperity and power. It is said that he lavished so much wealth along his route that the price of gold was depressed for years afterwards. During Mansa Musa's rule, Muslim scholarship reached new heights in Mali, and cities such as Timbuktu, Djenn, and Jenne became important centers of trade, learning, and culture.
After the decline of the Mali Empire, the territory became part of the Songhai Empire, which occupied an area covering parts of modern-day Guinea, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria. Songhai was brought to an end and its territory usurped by the Moroccan invasion of 1591. With the decline of the trans-Saharan trading routes, in favor of naval commerce, the area enjoyed little strategic importance and was divided into small kingdoms for the next two centuries, until the arrival of French colonists. Mali was absorbed into French West Africa in 1895. In 1960, together with what is now Senegal, it achieved independence as the Federation of Mali, although Senegal seceded after a few weeks.
The term Persia has been used for centuries, chiefly in the West, to designate a region of southern Iran formerly known as Persis or Parsa; the name of the Indo-European nomadic people who migrated into the region about 1000 BC, eventually supplanting the Assyrians and Chaldeans. The first mention of the Parsa occurs in the annals of Shalmanesar III, an Assyrian king, in 844 BC. Cyrus II (559-529 BC), also known as Cyrus the Great, was heir to a long line of ruling chiefs in Mesopotamia and was the founder of the Persian Empire; he was called the father of his people by the ancient Persians. In 550 BC, Cyrus, the Prince of Persia, revolted against the Median King Astyages and welded the Persians and Medes together into one powerful force. Cyrus consolidated his rule on the Iranian Plateau and then extended it westward across Asia Minor. In October 539 BC, Babylon, the greatest city of the ancient world, fell to his Persian forces. Cyrus also oversaw the construction of a series of great roads to link together the territories that he had conquered. Although Cyrus was a great military conqueror, he was also a fair ruler; he allowed the Jews to return from Babylon to their homeland in Palestine. His dynasty, known as the Achaemenids, ruled Persia for two centuries.
Following the death of Cyrus' heir, Darius I (522-486 BC), a leading general and one of the princes of the Achaemenid family, proclaimed himself king following the suppression of a number of provincial rebellions and challenges from other pretenders to the throne. Darius was in the mold of Cyrus the Great - a powerful personality and a dynamic ruler. To consolidate his accession, Darius I founded his new capital of Parsa, known to the Greeks as Persepolis ("Persian City") and expanded the ranks of his personal bodyguard, the Immortals. The elite force drew its name from the fact that no matter how many men were lost, the Persian Emperor would always pay the cost to restore the Immortals back to their original strength. Although Darius consolidated and added to the conquests of his predecessors, it was as an administrator that he made his greatest contribution to Persian history. During his reign, political and legal reforms revitalized the provinces and ambitious projects were undertaken to promote imperial trade and commerce; coinage, weights and measures were standardized, and new land and sea routes explored and established.
Such activities, however, did not prevent Darius from following an active expansionist policy. Campaigns in the east confirmed gains made by Cyrus the Great and added large sections of the northern Indian subcontinent to the list of Persian-controlled provinces. Expansion to the west began about 516 BC when Darius moved against the Greek colonies along the coast of Asia Minor. Xerxes (486-465 BC), son and successor of Darius I, was determined to continue the Persian conquest of the west and is best known for his massive invasion of Greece from across the Hellespont in 480 BC, a campaign marked by the battles of Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea. Although successful in the pacification of Egypt and suppression of a Babylon revolt, his defeat by the allied Greek city-states spelled the beginning of the decline of the Persian Empire. In Xerxes' last years, he squandered the once-enormous treasury he had gathered through trade and taxation by launching vast construction programs, most of which never finished.
The death of Xerxes was the final turning point in Persian influence. Occasional flashes of vigor and ability by some of Xerxes' successors were too infrequent to prevent eventual collapse. The final act was played out during the reign of Darius III (336-330 BC), who was defeated at the Battle of Granicus (334 BC) by Alexander the Great. Persepolis fell to the young Macedonian conqueror in April 330 BC, and Darius, the last Achaemenid, was murdered in the summer of the same year while fleeing the Greek forces. In the struggle for power after Alexander's death, Seleucus I brought under his control the Persian provinces of Alexander's empire. But this unity was short-lived, as the Indian holdings successfully revolted and the Seleucid kingdom broke into the competing nations of Parthia and Bactria. Parts of the Seleucid kingdom lasted for two centuries, but it was eventually swept aside by the Parthians, who founded an empire that stretched almost as far as Persia under the Achaemenids. The Romans and Parthians struggled against one another for centuries over control of Mesopotamia, with the Parthians usually holding onto most of the Fertile Crescent. But in 224 AD the Parthians were themselves overthrown by a new Sassanid dynasty that revived many of the customs of the Achaemenids, such as the Zoroastrian religion. The Sassanids fought a series of debilitating wars with the Byzantine Empire in the 6th and 7th centuries, which fatally weakened the Persian Empire when the Arabs exploded onto the scene. In a series of decisive battles between 633 and 642, the Arabs conquered and destroyed the Persian Empire; since this time, Persia (modern Iran) has largely belonged to the Arab world. The customs and religion of ancient Persia were destroyed and the population absorbed into the surrounding Islamic culture; only a few remnants survive today.