Middle East

  • Ancient Arabia: Qasr (Castle) Mard, Dumat Al-Jandal, in northwestern Saudi Arabia. Built before 272 CE, it commanded the ancient city of Adumato (L) 2007. Library of Congress (R) CC/Nora Ali.
  • Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, founded c. 970 by the Fatimid Caliphate, it is still a global center of Islamic studies (L) ca. 1867-1899, Maison Bonfils (Beirut. Library of Congress (R) 26 September 2011, CC/Poco a Poco.
  • Threatened history: Grand Umayyad Mosque, Aleppo, Syria, originally begun in early 8th Century, now a World Heritage Site, heavily damaged by tank fire in 2013 (L) Ca. 1900-1920. American Colony (Jerusalem), Library of Congress (R) Free Syrian Army fighter walks in courtyard 8 July 2013. Reuters/Muzaffar.
  • Legacy of the Crusades: Sea Castle at Saida (Sidon), Lebanon, built by Europeans in the 13th Century (L) American Colony (Jerusalem), ca. 1920-1933. Library of Congress. (R) 28 January 2004. Creative Commons/Кардам.
  • Jamaa el-Jedid (The New Mosque), Algiers, Algeria, built 1097 under Sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (L) ca. 1860-1900, Library of Congress (R) Photo dated 18 June 2008. Creative Commons/Ludovic Courtès.
  • Legacy of Ottoman Empire: Darghut Mosque, Tripoli, Libya, built in the 16th Century (L) ca. 1860-1900. Library of Congress (R) 18 July 2012. Creative Commons/Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni.
  • Legacy of European colonialism: Bab El Bhar, formerly called the French Gate, Tunis, Tunisia, built by French in 1848 (L) Color photochrome print,1899. Creative Commons. (R) Creative Commons/Dacoslett.
  • Panorama: Amman, Jordan (L) Photo taken from South Hill, Sept. 11, 1940. Matson Photo Service. Library of Congress (R) A view of Amman, Jordan from Jabal al-Qal'a citadel, 27 December. 2005. CC/David Bjorgen.
  • View from a distance: Jericho, West Bank (L) By American Colony (Jerusalem) Photo Dept., photographer, ca. 1900-1920. Library of Congress (R) "Jericho, City of the Moon, City of Stars," 5 December 2012, Creative Commons/Deror Avi.
  • Snow over Jerusalem (L) c. 1898-1946, by American Colony Photo Department or its successor, the Matson Photo Service, (R) 11 Jan. 2013. CC/Yair Haklai.
  • Jews praying at Western Wall, Jerusalem (L) ca. 1898-1946. Library of Congress (R) Creative Commons/Kapsuglan.
  • Christians celebrate Easter at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (L) ca. 1898, Library of Congress (R) Creative Commons/Deror Avi.
  • Moroccan souqs (L) 1910, Arnold Genthe, photographer. Library of Congress. (R) Book Souq, Essaouira, Morocco, September 2007. Creative Commons/ Polylerus.
  • Tunisian cafes (L) Médina de Tunis café Rue Halfaouine, c. 1900, Creative Commons (R) Tunisiens à une terrasse de café à Kairouan (Tunisie) Creative Commons/Tico.
  • Palestinian olive oil production (L) Nablus, c. 1903, Library of Congress (R) Factory, Deir al-Balah, Gaza, 3 October 2010. Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.
  • Baghdad Streets. (L) Coppersmiths, Baghdad, 1932. American Colony (Jerusalem) Photo Dept. Library of Congress (R) Rice and lamb stew, cooked and given to pilgrims who pass by. 12 Feb. 2009. CC/Salam Pax.
  • Damascus street scenes (L) American Colony (Jerusalem) Photo, ca. 1920-1933, Library of Congress (R) CC/Tigr.
  • Beirut street scenes (L) ca. 1900-1920, American Colony (Jerusalem) Photo Dept. Library of Congress. (R) Street, Beirut central district, 18 Oct. 2008, rebuilt after 15-year civil war. Creative Commons/James Gallegher.
  • Pilgrims during Hajj, Mecca, Saudi Arabia (L) ca. 1910, American Colony (Jerusalem). Photo Dept. Library of Congress. (R) 29 October 2012. Creative Commons.
  • Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan (L) Eid al-Fitr festivities in cemetery, Jaffa, 1897, Library of Congress. (R) Homs residents visiting a cemetery during Eid al-Fitr, 19 Aug. 2012. Reuters/SHAAM.

The Middle East Before and After

Cecily Hilleary

Published July 18, 2013

From the Maghreb to the Hejaz, the Middle East has undergone more change in the last century than ever before: It has witnessed foreign rule and altered borders; independence and state formation; war and hunger; peace, prosperity and development. Today, the Middle East faces some of the biggest challenges yet, as citizens confront leaders, demanding an end to corruption and a greater voice in government. Throughout it all, the people of the region have shown remarkable tenacity and resilience and have fought to protect and preserve their history, faiths and cultural traditions--as this photo essay illustrates.


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