Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Courses of Instruction



Connections 20076. Dividing East and West

Scholars have long represented the eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia during ancient times as the cradle of the “western” civilization. By tracing back western tradition to these territories of the Greek and Roman empires, they have appropriated these regions for the purposes of western historical memory. Yet much of what we think of as ‘western’ has its roots in Asia, and these areas were also the heartlands of Islamic cultures, societies that the West has often marginalized as “other”. How can the symbolism and history of one geographic region be used to signify the glory of the past and then become diminished? These two courses advance an alternative approach to studying the eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia. Classics 140 examines this region from the second millennium BCE through late antiquity, and explores the forces that began to bring about the split between East and West. History 251 continues the historical narrative by examining how Islam emerged in this region and came to construct a hybrid civilization based on Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian/pagan cultures, and yet became distinct on its own.

CLAS 140 Before the West
and HIST 251 Early Islamic Societies