For each Near Eastern country we will provide some history so that you better understand its current level of development, the major issues it is dealing with today, and how it interacts with and affects the larger region of the Middle East.

The Near East, the site of the world’s earliest civilizations, is complicated. We know this area gave the world the three Abrahamic religions, and that alone has stimulated interest in its history. We cover the development of the earliest civilizations and empires, continue through their expansion and interactions with the rest of the world, briefly examine how the three religions grew in the Near East, and follow the changes brought by the region’s dominant religion, Islam, up to the 20th century.

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Turkey: Ancient Civilizations, History, Religions, Architecture, and Natural Wonders

Presenter: Sandy Frank, Glenn Johnston, Bob Gottfried
Presentation Date: September 12, 2022

Turkey is a country rich in ancient history, striking architecture, and natural wonders. The antiquities of Anatolia are truly in an ancient land where its surviving monuments and exceptional archaeological surprises link the present to the past. Turkey is called the other Holy Land as it has more biblical sites than any other country in the Middle East. The land that is now Turkey was at the heart of human civilization, trade, religion, technology, and history.


Presenter: Ann Goerdt
Presentation Date: October 3, 2022

Iraq is a country we have all heard about, sometimes daily, in 1991 and again during the early 2000s. How did this land of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent develop into the Iraq of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? What is happening within the country today? Do we think it was helped or harmed by the American invasion in 2003 that got rid of Saddam Hussein? This presentation will address these questions, with a focus on Iraq’s development and persistent problems since its independence in 1932.

People Without a Homeland

Presenter: Ellen Gottfried
Presentation Date: October 24, 2022

When the Colonial powers decided to carve up the Near East, they had no interest in the people who lived in the lands they wanted. This presentation is about two groups that were stranded without a home. The first group to be discussed are the Kurds. For the second half, I hope to have a lively discussion, since the presentation will be about the Palestinians from their point of view.