top of page


Umayyad_Mosque: Welcome

Masterpiece of a New Empire

Click here for Episode 50

After the Muslims exploded onto the scene in the 7th century, they learned that anyone can take a empire, but holding an empire is another matter entirely.  We go to Syria, where Damascus served as the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate.  The Umayyads were the family who eventually took control following the turmoil of finding successors to Muhammad.


Ali A Olomi, historian and host of Head on History, rejoins us to take us into the next phase of Muslim history, in which the rich and connected Banu Umayya demonstrate the durability of hegemony: after every revolution, the elite and connected always come back in the end.


The Umayyads may get a bad rap in places, but they left an enduring empire in their wake, best shown in the remarkable mosque in their capital. 


While we discuss the splendor and tragedy of Damascus, try some tabbouleh, my all-time favorite salad.



Armstrong, Karen.  Islam: a Short History

Donner, Fred McGraw.  Muhammad and the Believers: at the Origin of Islam

Ingraham, Christopher. “How rising inequality hurts everyone, even the rich” in the Washington Post

Keenan, Brigid. Damascus: Hidden Treasures of the Old City

Kennedy, Hugh. Caliphate: the History of an Idea

Bradt Guide to Syria

Footprint Syria Handbook


Photograph by wikipedia user Aladdin

Umayyad_Mosque: Inner_about
bottom of page