Early Contributions of Ancient Empires
At various times between the fifth and seventeenth centuries, civilizations developed and produced significant contributions in the areas of political systems and leadership, economic and technological developments, social structures, and the intellectual life, specifically art, music, literature, science, philosophy, and religion.
The Ottomans drew strength from their origins as ghazis. The ghazi principle fueled their urge for conquest and then helped them to structure their developing society. The social structure of settled, urban Islamic society consisted of four social groupings: 1) the men of the pen, that is, judges, prayer leaders, and other intellectuals; 2) the men of the sword, meaning the military; 3) the men of negotiations, such as merchants; and 4) the men of husbandry, meaning farmers and livestock raisers. Life on the frontier was far less structured; society there was divided into two groups, the military and the people. There was even a place for the non-Muslim. In classical Islamic tradition, non-Muslim religious communities that possessed an accepted, written holy book were granted a covenant of protection, the dhimma, and were considered to be protected people, the dhimmis. In return for this status they paid a special poll tax. The Ottomans continued this tradition during the reign of Muhammad the Conqueror. The three leading non-Muslim religious communities were the Jews, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Church—were established as recognized dhimmi communities known as millets. Its own religious leader headed each millet: a chief rabbi in the case of the Jews, and patriarchs for the Greek Orthodox and Armenian communities. In the millet system, each community was responsible for the allocation and collection of its taxes, its education, and legal matters especially to personal status issues such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In the pre-modern Middle East, identity was largely based on religion. This system functioned well until the European concepts of nationalism filtered into the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the 19th century. There idea influenced only their empire due to the spread of nationalism.
As in art, a wide variety characterizes the architecture of the early Byzantine period. Two major types of churches: the basilica type, with a long colonnaded nave covered by a wooden roof and ending in a semicircular apse; and the vaulted centralized church, with its separate components gathered under a central dome. In studying their prototypes the Byzantine artists learned the new classical conventions for depicting or presenting a clothed figure, in which the clothing sticks to the body, revealing the forms beneath—the so-called damp-fold style. They also wanted to include modeling in light and shade, which not only produces the illusion of three-dimensionality but also lends animation to the painted surfaces. Religious images,...