Cultural Heritage of Al-Andalus
The resources on this page are a sampling of websites, lesson packages, language and culture sites available to teachers online. MANY ARE MULTILINGUAL! All of them are worth a look, and many of them are magnificent efforts to uncover and restore the legacy of cultural interaction that took place over more than seven centuries in al-Andalus, or Islamic Spain, and spread to the Iberian Peninsula and on to the Americas. While scholars such as Rosa Maria Menocal have noted how the cultural contributions from Islamic Spain had often been denied or buried, there have been many recent efforts to recover those deep connections and make them available to the public and to teachers and their students. The following links are especially rich, and teachers of Spanish, Portuguese, world history, and other fields are invited to write to SusanD@CMCUworkshops.net with links and descriptions of which they become aware to add to this page.
Virtual Alhambra Walking Tour, like the Suleymaniye Mosque and the Haram al-Sharif, allows the user to take 360-degree views of this historic site in Granada, Spain, the Nasridbuilt palace in southern Spain, the last stronghold of Muslims in Spain, which fell to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. The Alhambra is an artistic masterpiece and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Museum With No Frontiers http://www.museumwnf.org/ website has wide variety of exhibits from European and other museums. a section called The Muslim West which takes viewers through a sampling of artistic objects through the important periods and aspects of Islamic Spain. Another exhibit is Mudejar Art, about the continuing legacy of Islamic arts and crafts in Spain after the Reconquista. The site, which covers Islamic arts comprehensively across eras and regions, has two features not to be missed:
- Learn, an interactive quiz game of investigating museum objects of everyday life and history, helps students to “see” through close observation, classification, and recognition, leading to making inferences. Instant feedback.
- Exhibition Trails can be selected by Theme and Country (examples: “Mediterranean” as a theme, and “Spain” or “Portugal” as a Country, with a map and “Itineraries” of objects with information related to various times and places for each.
El-Legado Andalusi, available in English, Spanish, Arabic or French, is a major project of several European institutions to restore the cultural connections and create awareness of the heritage of al-Andalus. The project includes exhibitions, articles, and a map/tourism feature called Las Rutas de al-Andalus with text, video and animated map highlighting different periods and features of history on the Iberian Peninsula. A related site in several languages is a tour in word, map, and image of cities on several routes called “Cultural Itineraries” or “Itinerarios Culturales” which can be approached from several links on the site. Be patient until you find all of the interactive features–they are worth it. Another feature related and linked to the site is the story of Ibn Khaldun, or Ibn Jaldun, the father of sociology. This site is packed with sights, sounds, and information.
LANGUAGE TEACHING — these downloadable files for handouts are related to websites and articles on the many loan words from Arabic to Spanish, Portuguese and English, especially American English.
- From the excellent site Spanish Pronto, a short handout of Arabic words in Spanish to download.
- An article on Arabic and Spanish language Arabic Contributions to the Spanish Language to download with link to the site of origin.
- List of Arabic words in English and Spanish with definitions as an MS Word file, “Spanish”s Arab Connection” with link to original
Cantigas de Santa Maria at http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/cantigas/ is a site with audio files, poems, images and explanatory texts related to the effort of Alfonso el Sabio to preserve the music, musical instruments, and texts of songs, which grew out of the long relationship among Muslims, Christians and Jews in the Iberian Peninsula. The musical (MIDI files) and lyrics site link is here, in the original language with translations. Alfonso X, or the Wise (el-Sabio) was the Christian king who supported the major translation effort of the 11th to 12th century at Toledo and other centers through which most of the legacy of science and philosophy was passed from Muslims to Europeans, contributing to the Renaissance and Scientific Revolution.
- A site with information on Alfonso X with dates, maps, texts, biographies of major figures, and links to Cantigas in English/Gallego-Portugués also has music files from the Cantigas.
- A separate, but related site is Alfonso X Book of Games which relates the story of many familiar games that were passed from Spain to Europe, with images from the medieval manuscripts and much more.
The documentary film Cities of Light explores the history and culture of Islamic Spain from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries, with particular emphasis on the factors that created the conditions for religious tolerance and the outcomes of cultural and economic flourishing that resulted, as well as the downfall of tolerance ending in expulsions and the loss of the heritage of tolerance. The companion website features a full set of lessons, both for comprehension and for enrichment, as well as an array of interactive features on arts and science, material culture, slide shows, video clips, maps, articles and discussion guides.
- Visit the site at islamicspain.tv and see information on the 20,000 Dialogues civic engagement project.
- See especially the Lesson Plans, which include maps and a geography lesson on the Iberian Peninsula, a historical timeline, film guide and discussion activities, Andalusian Arabic poetry in English, the transfer of knowledge, an activity on the real and the legendary El Cid, a piece of historical fiction “The Sword,” a reading on the background of the Abrahamic Faiths and much more, all downloadable as pdf files.
The University of Maryland Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies (CRBS) “Crossing Borders, Breaking Boundaries” Summer Teacher Institutes at http://www.crbs.umd.edu/crossingborders/index-all.shtml differ from most institutes in three ways (1) they involved multi-disciplinary teams of teachers from Maryland and regional middle and high schools, (2) they involved the arts in the full range of the word, and (3) there was extensive follow-up during the next year, with teachers coming back to critique and hone the lessons they developed before they are posted on a permanent lesson plan database. Numerous lessons in the database were created by foreign language teachers, and fine arts teachers have posted many lessons that work across the curriculum.
A list of some Saudi Aramco World Magazine articles available online at https://archive.aramcoworld.com/index/BackIssues2010.aspx, with recent issues including images, and all printable with searchable images from their archive:
- “From Arabic to English“
- “Natural Remedies of Arabia“
- “The Art and Science of Water”
- “The Poet King of Seville“
- “Arabs, Almonds, Sugar, and Toledo“
- “Ishbiliyah: Islamic Seville“
- “Science in Al-Andalus“
- “The Other 1492“
- “Europe’s New Arabic Connection“
- “A Man of Two Worlds” (Leo Africanus)
- “The Coming of the Portuguese“
- “The Mexican Kitchen’s Islamic Connection“
- Esteban of Azemmour and His New World Adventures“
- “Arabian Memories in Portugal“
Irrigation and Society in Medieval Valencia is a full-text book online by Professor Thomas Glick, a scholar on technology, hydraulics and science in Muslim Spain.
Acerca de la Sociedad De Re Militiari is a site dedicated to medieval warfare and has articles on battles in Spanish as well as English, including the Crusades, the Reconquista, and others, using both primary and secondary sources from both sides, including Arabic sources.
Ceramic Arts: Articles and an extensive site on the link between Spain, Italy, Central Asia and Mexico in the art of Majolica ceramics:
- Ceramica y Cultura, Museum of International Folk Art in English and Spanish, including free curriculum guide in both languages (start from English/Spanish page, then go to “Education” link in each for curriculum in target language. Download the curriculum at http://online.internationalfolkart.org/mayolica/education/Ceramica-curriculum.pdf: The Story of Spanish and Mexican Mayolica
- Ceramics Today article: Andalucia’s New Golden Pottery on the revival of lustreware in Spain at https://contractorquotes.us/andalucias-new-golden-pottery/ .
- Ceramics Today article: Zillij in Fez on the continuing craft of mosaic work in Morocco, with the link to Spain.