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UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Samarra and the Abbasid Caliphate

Evening Course

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0242A
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Samarra Archaeological City, Iraq (Photo: Mahmoud Bendakir)

There are 1,154 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the world. Each of them offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of complex civilizations, empires, and religions. This series offers an in-depth overview of five of the most intriguing UNESCO World Heritage sites from around the world, from Iraq to Brazil. Each lavishly illustrated program goes far beyond the typical tourist experience by incorporating the insights of the latest scholarship and research. 

Justin M. Jacobs, a professor of history at American University, is the author of several books, including The Compensations of Plunder: How China Lost Its Treasures. He recently completed a 24-episode series on UNESCO World Heritage Sites for the Great Courses and is currently conducting research on the voyages of Captain Cook in the Pacific.

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Samarra and the Abbasid Caliphate

Once the thriving capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, Samarra in the 9th century A.D. served as the center of an Islamic empire that stretched from northern Africa to Central Asia. Its striking spiral minaret serves as an enduring reminder of the Great Mosque that once enclosed this sacred ground along the banks of the Tigris River. Jacobs focuses on Samarra’s rare preservation of Islamic art, architecture, and city plans from the heyday of the Abbasid Caliphate.

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