A History of Libya in 7 Bullet Points

Recent events have many of us thinking about Libya. So here’s a rundown of some of the surprises and highlights from Libyan history:

  1. Land of the Berbers: We think of the Libyans as Arabs, and that’s true for most, but it hides a more complicated picture. For all of recorded history, the bulk of Libya’s people have been Berbers, and that remains so today, though most of Libya’s Berbers also descend from Arabs. The Berbers were simple farmers during the Bronze Age, living in mountain and oasis villages across North Africa. The Egyptians referred to one of the Berber tribes as the “Levu,” and that’s probably the origin of the name “Libya.” Berbers from Libya actually conquered Egypt in 950 B.C.E., and the “Libyan dynasties” continued until about 730 B.C.E. Many Libyans still speak Berber languages and consider themselves Berbers first and foremost. And modern Libya includes several Berber tribes. Continue reading “A History of Libya in 7 Bullet Points”

The Unbelievable Duration of Egyptian Civilization

Imagine the Roman emperors still ruled today—and kept ruling until the year 3000 C.E. Imagine an American president still presides in the year 4800—governing roughly the same part of North America as today and operating under American traditions and laws, including the U.S. Constitution. In other words, imagine a government and society lasting three thousand years, with only the occasional interruption. That’s how long the Pharaohs reigned over ancient Egypt. Continue reading “The Unbelievable Duration of Egyptian Civilization”

Is America Falling, Like the Roman Empire?

Historians have never gotten together on a reason for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The question is more than just academic because the West’s great powers have often compared themselves to Rome and wondered if they might go the same way. Nowadays, the obvious comparison is with the United States. I’m going to describe the key theories for Rome’s fall and argue that even the good ones tell us little about America’s future.

fallen - the Roman Empire
An architectural capriccio with figures among Roman ruins, Giovanni Paolo Panini

Continue reading “Is America Falling, Like the Roman Empire?”