Cultural Itinerary of the Ummayads
It stretches from one peninsula to another: the Arabic and the Iberian. It goes across three continents, linking Asia, Africa and Europe. There are stopovers in the Persian Gulf, the Oman and Yemen shores in the Indian Ocean, in the ports of the Red sea, the eastern and western Mediterranean, from the Mesopotamian river Euphrates to the Guadalquivir river of al-Andalus. It goes across the green lands of the Arabia Felix and the Fertile Crescent; it expands along the routes of the caravans from Hijaz and the Syrian steppe to the Maghreb territories and the Mediterranean islands of Sicily or Crete.
This itinerary tells about the Moslem civilization arrival from the Arabian Peninsula to through the Fertile Crescent and the North of Africa to the Iberian Peninsula and we name it the Itinerary of the Umayyadas, from Damas to Cordova. However this concept goes further and tries to explain the many influences between East and West. This journey there and back entailed many contributions to Europe, and reached it summit in Sicily and Moslem Spain and, through the Iberian Peninsula, it had a huge influence in the cultural and scientific European development. Roads of old where knowledge, art and science travelled and remained always leaving their marks. These traces reveal to us, quite often, singular common factors, interactions, encounters and the crossbreeding that took place under the shared and common history which is told in these Itineraries.
The Itineraries talk to us about history, traditions, artistic patrimony, agriculture, science, as well as trade and social relationships. This civilization was settled down in a world plenty of classical culture (Greece, Rome and the Byzantine world) and its cultural contributions were useful indeed to shape an important civilization so important for the mankind.
In the Itineraries of the Moslem Civilization echoes these dialogues. The Itineraries put in the same map of culture such an extensive geographic area. The conquests (futuhat), developed in the first century of Islam’s life, will open a new road link and a relation that gave origin to one of the most fruitful moments of the encounter between East and West. This expansion, out of the geographic area which had its influence in the beginning of the Arabs countries (Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia), started with the caliphs Rashidun: Abu Bakr, Omar Ibn al-Khattab, Uzman Ibn Affan and Alí Ibn Taleb. The expansion was intensified under the caliphate of the Eastern Umayyads founded in the year 661 a.D. (41 H.) by Muawwiya ibn Abi Sufian. The Islam did not only reached the territory expansion of an Empire -from the river Ebro (Spain) to the Indo river- under the Umayyads rulers, it also achieved an openness and cosmopolitan character, open to the cultures of the conquered countries, and able to help as the transmitting element of them.
The Umayyad Empire quickly became a huge culture melting pot which gave rise to a new art, with new aesthetics and cultural habits, visible in a rich repertoire of new constructions, in new forms and new-style urban images. The transmission to the East of the new cultural reality specially lasted thanks to the Umayyads continuity in al-Andalus, where they remained until the dawn of the XIst century.
The Umayyads Itinerary contains a rich legacy belonging to former civilitations, previous to the Islamic one (the Greco-Latin, Persian, Nabatean, Palmirian, Sabaeans, etc.). This is of course taken into account in every route’s milestone, where every historical, cultural or artistic fact belonging to the series of dinasies in power, are duly registered.
It proposes a huge and unprecedented compilation of a vast common patrimony. It doesn’t pay attention solely to its artistic and architectonic expressions. It also listens to the many literary and poetic voices which crowd the route. It also explores the labyrinth of their science, beliefs and thinking. It tell us, at the same time, the travellers voyages; those wise, learned men who journeyed along these paths, in one or another direction.
Map of the Cultural Itnerary of the Umayyads