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MEPC provides highly respected in-person presentations on the Middle East for students, educators, and other civic leaders.


Arab Culture & Civilization

Explore this exemplary library of articles and resources on Arab societies and culture. This site was originally created by the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE).

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Along the Silk Road: People, Interaction & Cultural Exchange: A middle school unit provided by the USC-UCLA Joint East Asian Studies Center. It covers the history, trade, and cultural impact of the Silk Road.

Andalusia: New York University’s Hagop Kevorkian Centers has produced an excellent online module on Islamic Spain. It features an art guide and essays on the history, culture, and religion of Andalusia.

The Arab Gateway: Calling itself “an open doorway to the Islamic world,” Al-Bab aims to introduce non-Arabs to Arabs and their culture. You can explore country guides, current issues, arts and culture articles, a reference section, and topics ranging from traditional Arab history to the importance of oil. Be sure to check out the music section!

Asia Society: The Asia Society has resources on the South Asian countries that are included in the Near East- Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran- as well as an overview of conflicts, religions, trade, and cultures. Good lesson plans, found under the Education & Learning then Resources for Schools section, include units on the Silk Road, Indian Ocean, geometry and Islamic art, and Persian painting.

Cobblestone Press: The publisher of engaging periodicals including FACES, Appleseeds, Cobblestone and Calliope aimed at elementary and middle school audiences. You can search back issues for topics such as Afghanistan, Islam, oil, Ibn Battuta, the Silk Road, and others. There is also a teaching guide for Islam under the “Theme Packs” section.

Department of State – Bureau of Near East Affairs: An up-to-date resource providing information on current events and regional topics, as well as the Middle East Digest, a collection of excerpts from the U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefings that are related to U.S. foreign policy interests in the Middle East.

Discover Islamic Art: The online Museum with No Frontiers is funded by the European Union and others. It has exquisite photography of Islamic architecture and artifacts from the Mediterranean world and engaging online activities for students.

Edsitement: This collection of excellent lesson plans has a number of excellent resources on the Middle East. Try searching for Middle East and for Islam. You’ll find, for example, a guide to reading Marjane Satrapy’s Persepolis and a mapping activity for elementary students called “On the Road with Marco Polo: From Venice to Hormuz,” among many others.

Georgetown Center for Contemporary Arab Studies: CCAS’s graduate program has developed an excellent resource in their K-12 Educational Outreach, providing modules on topics ranging from language to religion to ethnicity.

National Geographic Xpeditions: You can search for lesson plans by region, grade level, keyword, etc. here; again, less content on the Middle East but good lessons on the spice trade and the Silk Road, water, and nomad cultures.

Outreach World: A project of the federally-funded National Resource Centers for international studies, Outreach World is a growing collection of tested and vetted curriculum modules related to many world areas. The Middle East collection is particularly strong, with instructional materials covering its history, peoples, culture, and religion.

Project Looksharp: A digital curriculum on Media Construction of the Middle East is available as a free download from Project Looksharp at Ithaca College. It is an extremely well-done unit, with slideshows and video clips to illustrate various points of view and persuasive techniques, teacher guides, and student handouts and worksheets (with answer keys). The four units are: Introducing the Middle East, the history of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, the War in Iraq, and Militant Muslims and the US.

Qantara: The Qantara project, which is part of the Euromed Heritage program, is an excellent resource for the history, culture, geography, and art of the Mediterranean nations. The astrolabe video is a particularly good resource.

Saudi Aramco World: This magazine features articles on not only the Middle East, but topics related to Muslim societies more broadly. There are excellent photos and classroom connections in every issue. The magazine is searchable online—all past articles are indexed and available free of charge (as are print subscriptions for teachers). An additional valuable feature is the digital image archive.

TeachGlobalEd.net Online Resources for Global Educators, Middle East Resources: Teachers can browse these online resources which are sorted into categories such as geography & history, countries & cultures, and elementary resources. Each resource is well annotated with its perspective and what it provides for educators.

Turkish Cultural Foundation: This website offers portals into the culture, cuisine and music of Turkey. Each portal offers great images, slideshows and essays.

University of Texas, Center for Middle Eastern Studies: The University of Texas’ Center for Middle Eastern Studies produces interactive web units designed for students and educators that allow you to explore such interesting topics as the historical importance of Cairo, Turkish Jews, and Cyprus.


Islam, Empire of Faith, a Gardner Films production in Association with PBS and Devillier Donegan Enterprises; produced and directed by Robert Gardner; Jonathan Grupper, series writer.

Narrated by Ben Kingsley, this film describes the first 1000 years of Islam, beginning from the birth of the Prophet, through historical re-enactments and interviews with scholars.

Silk, Scents & Spice . UNESCO; Keremedia DVD Productions: producer, John Lawton. Paris: UNESCO, c2001.

Examines how three key trade routes have affected history through providing avenues not only for the transport of goods, but also of ideas, religions, and armies. Grades 5 and up.

Crusades. BBC/TV production in association with A&E Network; producers/directors, Alan Ereira and David Wallace, 4 videocassettes or 2 DVDs.

Amateur historian and Monty Python funny man Terry Jones chronicles the Crusades with witty and accurate dialog, reenactments, and hands-on exploration.


Amin, Camron, Benjamin C. Fortna and Elizabeth B. Frierson. The Modern Middle East: A Sourcebook for History. Oxford University Press, 2007.

This invaluable anthology brings together primary sources including literature, travelers’ accounts, official data, journalism, and more, from 1700 to the present.

Armstrong, Karen. A Short History of Islam. Modern Library, 2002.

Karen Armstrong’s introduction to Islam, though not very short, is vivid and accessible.

Ashour, Radwa. Granada. Tr. By William Granara. Syracuse University Press, 2003.

This novel of Islamic Spain details the fate of a Muslim community after 1492. You may also enjoy a similar treatment by Tariq Ali in Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree.

Gelvin, James L. The Modern Middle East: A History. Oxford University Press, 2007.

The lively prose, anecdotes and easy-to-follow narrative prove that this is a history written for students and teachers by a scholar who loves to teach.

Gettleman, Marvin and Stuart Schaar. The Middle East and Islamic World Reader. Grove Press, 2003.

This anthology of primary sources covers everything from the Quran to medieval thinkers to contemporary leaders wrestling with how to reconcile culture, faith and modernization.

Nicolle, David. A Historical Atlas of the Islamic World. Mercury Books, 2005.

A wonderful source of information on the first millennium of Islamic history that provides accompanying maps and graphics to help students understand ancient Arabia.

Reid, Struan. The Silk and Spice Routes: Cultures and Civilizations. London: Belitha Press, UNESCO Publishing, 1994. 48 pages.

---. The Silk and Spice Routes: Exploration by Sea. New York: New Discovery Books: UNESCO Pub., 1994. 45 pages.

---. The Silk and Spice Routes: Inventions and Trade. London: Belitha Press, UNESCO Publishing, 1994. 48 pages.

Strathern, Paul. The Silk and Spice Routes: Exploration by Land. New York: New Discovery Books UNESCO, 1994. 48 pages.

Splendidly illustrated books with dozens of historic visuals, The Silk and Spice Routes series explores the interrelations of trade and cultures as they developed along the Silk and Spice Routes. Grades 3-5. Links with UNESCO film Silk, Scents and Spice.

Ottoman History

Teaching Materials

McCarthy, Justin and Carolyn McCarthy. Who Are the Turks: A Manual for Teachers, 2003. This curriculum guide gives teachers the opportunity to help their students understand the state of Turkey — its history, its evolution, its culture and its literature. Readers should note that McCarthy has a revisionist interpretation of Turkish-Armenian history. This new edition is revised and updated with excellent photographs and illustrations. Contains extensive history and literature lesson plans. For grades 9-12, social/global/language arts. The guide is available for shipping and handling, $6 per book. Contact: The American Forum for Global Education at info at globaled.org

Calliope issues on Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul and The World of the Ottoman Ruler Suleyman the Magnificent. Magazines feature timelines, background, maps and activities.

Reese, Lyn. A Message for the Sultan. Women in World History, 1992. Explores slaves, male/female separate spaces; the harem; and love poetry.

Spotlight on Turkey: Continuity and Change. AFGE, 1992. This curriculum addresses the ‘Turkish experience throughout history’ using, literature, social studies and art.

Adult Reading on Ottoman History

Akar, Azade. Authentic Turkish Designs. Dover, 1992. Black and white designs ideal for copying

Faroqui, Suraiya. Subjects of the Sultan: Culture and Daily Life in the Ottoman Empire. IB Taurus, 2000. Describes Ottoman culture from festivals to architecture to food.

Goffman, Daniel. The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe. Cambridge University Press, 2002. This work shows Ottoman history as connected to Europe, not standing apart.

Itzkowitz, Norman. Ottoman Empire and Islamic Tradition. University of Chicago Press, 1972. This classic briefly presents a full sweep of Ottoman history.

McCarthy, Justin. The Ottoman Turks: An Introductory History to 1923. Addison-Wesley, 1997. This work incorporates daily life as well as political history.

Quataert, Donald. The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922. Cambridge University Press, 2000. This major survey examines important trends in the latter years of the empire, including gender issues and the treatment of minorities.

Books for Middle and High School Students

Addison, John. Suleyman and the Ottoman Empire. Greenhaven, 1980. This concise, informative work has excerpts from primary sources.

And, Metin. Turkish Miniature Painting. Dost Yayinlari, 1978. A beautiful book containing sixty-four miniatures in full color.

Books for Elementary School Students

Atil, Esin. Suleymanname: The Illustrated History of Suleyman the Magnificent. National Gallery of Art, 1987. Contains miniatures and information on Suleyman.

Clark, Emma. Sinan. Hood Hood Books, 1996. Introduces the famous Ottoman architect Sinan in a way that is accessible to young children.

Johnson-Davies, Denys. Rumi: Poet and Sage. Hood Hood , 1997. This book is a wonderful way to introduce young children to perhaps the most famous Muslim poet.

MacDonald, Fiona & Mark Bergin. A 16th Century Mosque. Peter Bedrick,1994. Filled with detailed color illustrations, this book focuses on how mosques were built.

Marshall, Julia. Suleiman the Magnificent and The Story of Istanbul. Hood Books. Through Suleiman’s own memories younger students discover the history of one of the greatest Ottoman sultans.

McDonagh, Bernard. Turkish Village. A& C Black, 1987. Photos of daily life illustrate this story of twelve-year-old Mustafa in the south of Turkey.

Multimedia: Videos, Audio and Websites

Suleyman the Magnifcent (video). National Gallery of Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. Narrated by Ian McKellan, this excellent video gives a contextualized portrait of the reign of Suleyman.

Suleyman the Magnificent (video).
Assignment Discovery.
Has a linked website with valuable curricular materials at http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/programs/suleyman/.

Washington State University’s World Civilizations online includes the Ottomans: http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/OTTOMAN/OTTOMAN.HTM.

The Perry-Castaneda map library at the University of Texas at Austin has several maps of the Ottoman Empire online: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/history_middle_east.html