Caliphate of Cordoba
Al Andalus, the territory now occupied by North Africa, Portugal and Spain, has a history of conquerors, rulers and caliphs from countries as varied as Germany, Iraq and Arabia. The long line of caliphs ended in the last of the Umayadd lineage, in Abd ar Rahman III. He was the one who ruled during the Caliphate of Cordoba. The Caliphate of Spanish Cordoba (Cordova) in the tenth century was a time and place in which the minds of men expanded because the Islamic influence gave the Arab tribes cultural and social unity that they had not known before. The Muslim religion allowed them to trade with unbelievers so trade thrived. Abd ar Rahman III (912-961) proclaimed his independence of Baghdad and gave himself the title of caliph/khalif in 929; thereafter the Caliphate lasted till 1031. During this time, the connections between it and North Africa were strongly knit. Thus the Arab culture was easily introduced into Spain with a general migration that brought their "brilliant Arabic culture into the West". Agriculture flourished during this period and many new crops were introduced into Europe such as:
- Aromatic flowers
Caliphs were very interested in cultivation and gardening and agriculture was considered a science. Arabic scholars excelled in mathematics, medicine, and geography and they ultimately developed algebra with their Arabic numerals and zero. Arabs also successfully diagnosed illnesses and had functioning hospitals.
The Arab culture and Caliphate of Cordoba:
- Beautiful poetry by Omar Khayyám
- Improved astronomical instruments such as the astrolabe that helped navigators figure out their latitude
- Medical theory
- Improved calendar
- Musical advances
- New and more accurate understandings of light, color, reflection, magnification and refraction,
Thus the Arab culture reached its peak in both economic and cultural terms. When Abd ar Rahman came to power, Cordoba's population was near 500,000 who had at their disposal 700 baths and seventy libraries with over 500,000 manuscripts. Cordoba functioned as the center of the intellectual world.