Middle Ages - Class 7
Viewing the world a thousand years ago, it was indeed a surprise to discover how different life was in the hemispheres.
Unlike the Germanic tribes who came from the northern countries down into Britain to pillage and plunder, the Arabs did not destroy the cities they conquered. Instead they added new buildings and made them more splendid.
While the streets of Paris were filled with dust in dry weather, one would walk knee-deep in mud on rainy days. Meanwhile, at the same time in Baghdad, the streets were paved and roofed over with arcades to give protection against the sun and rain. At night, they had street-lighting, something that came to Europe only a thousand years later!
The ‘coffers’ were empty in the West while in the Orient there was no shortage of gold and silver. The Arabs used the gold to build cities far more magnificent than ancient Rome had ever been. The most famous of these Arabs cities was Baghdad, the city of the Caliph Harun al- Rashid. His palace was the most luxurious building in the world. It was in Baghdad that the House of Wisdom was built, the first university and the beginning of modern science. It was an Arab, Al-Kwarizmi who introduced the numerals we now use, originally from India, and he wrote the first book on the rules of arithmetic. He also brought us algebra!
But what was happening in Australia a thousand years ago?
According to Bruce Pascoe, in his book, The Dark Emu, he speaks about a way of life that was extremely balanced.
Australians were living in permanent structures, built with stone and wood, and in large communities. They built dams and wells. They planted, irrigated and harvested seed. They preserved and stored the surplus. The growing of the murnong (yam) was essential to the daily diet.
A sophisticated code of behaviour based in the Aboriginal culture allowed hundreds of different tribes to live together in relative harmony.