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Muslim Sicily: A lost paradise

Waking up from historical amnesia


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The dark ages were not so dark


Ask the average person what they know about Sicily and they'll probably answer something about the Mafia.

Others may say that there were a lot of immigrants from Sicily to the US and other places around the turn of the 20th century.

Few know that Sicily was a major center of classical Greek culture. Archimedes and Pythagorus were Sicilians.

Even less well known is the story of the golden age of art, literature, medicine, agriculture and religious tolerance that flourished on the island (the biggest in the Mediterranean) under Arab Muslim rule from 827 to 1091, followed by a unique Viking-Muslim culture that held sway for another roughly 200 years.

During this time, Palermo was one of the richest cities in all of Europe, far outdistancing primitive places like Paris and London and the still ruined city of Rome.

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