Thursday, May 28, 2015

What's the Levant?

The Levant was, in part, a geographic concept. Loosely defined, it stretched across the eastern Mediterranean, the arc of the Fertile Crescent, the frontiers at the Isthmus of Suez in the south, and the Taurus Mountains in the north. But the Levant was really more a culture than an expanse of land or group of nations or homelands. It was a way of living and thinking that bound Asia Minor to the Middle East and Egypt to Mesopotamia. It was, in essence, an amalgamation of diversities where many mingled, a realm of intersections, a crossroads of language, culture, religions, and traditions. All were welcome to pass through the territories and homelands within its landscape, where differences were often celebrated. In idea at least, the Levant was open-minded, cosmopolitan; it did not concern itself with particularities or narrow definitions or identities. 
Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), p. 118

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