Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

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HerbM
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Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by HerbM »

Does anyone know of a map with at least minimal details of Mecca or Yathrib at the time of Muhammad?

By now, I am pretty sure there is no such thing as an accurate or authentic map, but perhaps there are maps available that are best-guesss reconstructions?

Or decent representations of the Qabah and the Yathrib Mosque of Muhammad?

Most of what I have seen on these last two are heavily influenced by much later architecture.

How about decent diagrams of the fortress of the Jews or others in Yathrib?

[I am still having a very hard time understanding how some 5000-8000 Meccans had enough water and food, especially enough water to stay even moderately clean. And while water was more plentiful and reliable in Yathrib and there were a lot more food sources, even that seems almost implausible to serve the needs of some 30,000??? people.]
HerbM
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by HerbM »

I got a little closer with Muir's "The LIfe of Muhammed" for which the publisher has two online, downloadable maps (available to anyone).

Only Medina is shown in details, and this is actually from the 1800's but offers a little bit of orientation to the Medina of ancient times.
http://elibron.com/product/10005757/

Medina
http://elibron.com/wp-content/uploads/1489/map_1.pdf

Not the answer but better than nothing.
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manfred
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by manfred »

I have never seen a contemporary map, only some later attempts to construct one. In fact some scholars suggest that certainly Mecca did not even exist at the time of Mohammed, pointing to the quibla of very early mosques which clearly point elsewhere. They suggest that Mohammed is a mythical figure (broadly based on an actual medieval Arab warlord) who was later in Islam associated with a relatively new town of Mecca for political reasons.

Image

Mecca is only mentioned in the Qur'an once, referring to Mohammed's conquest of it, in surah 48. Interestingly that also connects the "sacred" mosque with this Mecca, as if there was a Muslim place of worship in this town before Mohammed himself. So that whole passage is likely a later amendment, possibly by the editors of the Uthman recension.

Sometimes Muslims also claim that the place-name "Bacca" also refers to Mecca in 3:96 and even claim the name "Baka" from the bible refers to Mecca. That is nonsense, as we know where "Baka" actually is, in Central Galilee, not far from Jerusalem. It is more likely that the writers of the Qur'an came across psalm 84 mentioning a place of worship which can be reached by going through the valley of Baka (i.e. the temple in Jerusalem) and incorporated it into the QUr'an in 3:96, also mentioning an early place of worship and Baka. Later Muslims then interpreted this passage both in the Qur'an and the bible as referring to Mecca.

http://www.debate.org.uk/debate-topics/ ... -evidence/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.historyofmecca.com/historical_claims.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


So where am I going with this? Perhaps we cannot have a map of a 7th century Arab city called Mecca when it did not quite exit yet.

If it did exist at Mohammed's lifetime, it was an insignificant small settlement with mud huts round a a smallish sanctuary for many deities built from uncut stone. There would be little in the way of infrastructure such as roads or other significant buildings. So it is not a big surprise we don't get any maps. You only need maps for places so big you might get lost.

A
What we can be certain of that Mecca as a settlement did only arise during the Christian era, so Islamic claims about Ishmael or Abraham going there are fantasy.

http://religionresearchinstitute.org/me ... eology.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Fernando
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by Fernando »

Thanks Manfred. I was going to suggest something similar but you've done it so much better as usual! Oh for a time machine!
‘Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literary traditions. They neither intermarry nor eat together, and indeed they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.’ Muhammad Ali Jinnah
HerbM
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by HerbM »

All of this makes sense Manfred, and thank you.

I am approaching this study from the point of view that the Muhammad of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah basically existed but well aware there are many significant problems with this.

You are correct that people of a small town like Mecca (7th or even 9th-10th century) probably would not need a map, but I would have expected someone to have made a best effort attempt to draw it up.

I would have expected this even more strongly for Yathrib to show how the 2 major battles with the Meccans were fought near there, and also the sieges against the Jewish strongholds.

Maps exist for many military events throughout history even though the location may otherwise be entirely obscure and of little intrinsic interest.

Another strong argument for Mecca not having existed is this issue you have already tried to help me research:

Where were 5000-8000 people getting their water? And their food, in a place with 1 (?) well, and some seasonal spring and no significant agricultural land?

Where would they even get enough wood for fires or simple furniture or other items?

Even if there were a few (scrawny) trees there, these would be quickly exhausted in a few years to a few decades.

When Patricia Crone looked at the long time assumptions about Mecca being some 'great trading center' most of the trade items turned out to be unfeasible or very minor at best.

Usually cities (even towns) exist for geographical reasons FIRST. Trade and cultural reasons develop later once the town is established. Mecca makes almost no sense as a place where humans flourished in any numbers.
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Fernando
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by Fernando »

HerbM wrote:Mecca makes almost no sense as a place where humans flourished in any numbers.
And can hardly be said to flourish now, other than by leeching off tourists.
‘Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literary traditions. They neither intermarry nor eat together, and indeed they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.’ Muhammad Ali Jinnah
HerbM
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by HerbM »

It actually looks like the worlds biggest empty parking lot.
M85
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by M85 »

HerbM wrote:...Where were 5000-8000 people getting their water? And their food, in a place with 1 (?) well, and some seasonal spring and no significant agricultural land? ...
Water? Well from the miraculous arsenic laced Zam Zam well of course! In all seriousness, you are right about Mecca not being a plausible location for a city this size, and of course there is zero archaeological evidence of this city much before the time of Mohammad.
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HerbM
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by HerbM »

Also, despite many being portrayed as "well-dressed" and even fashionable in Arabic TV and movies (e.g., TheLifeOfumarBinAl-khattabra-TvSeries2012 which I am watching) the Meccans were likely filthy and threadbare.

I don't mean this as any sort of insult, just an observation of what life must really have comprised: living in mud and maybe stone houses with almost no extra water for washing (bodies OR clothes), no sewage system, very little wood for furniture or things like doors, almost no firewood (so burning twigs, brush and camel dung) with no glass for windows and the heat of an Arabian climate would have been a miserable existence in all probability.

Everything worn except camel & sheep wool and leather would have been imported.

How many changes of clothes would really be available? How would they get washed?

5000 people is not a giant city, but even a large troop of boy scouts can generate a lot of human waste in just a week or so of camping.

People living well within a town this large would not have been able to "go to the bushes" for most bodily functions so likely they did what the Romans did but without the rain and flowing water that washed Roman streets.

Somewhere (Ishaq's Sirat probably) there is a mention of Umar having only a "wool" shirt or robe.

Did these people really wear wool in that climate? Forget the heat even and think of the itch.

There are reports of various relatives or followers of Muhammad picking his head for fleas.

Dirt floors probably and likely not fully rug covered -- and even if they were these would quickly become filthy.

Food? Camel and sheep for lots of protein. Nothing much grew so, perhaps eating a lot of imported dates from someplace like Yathrib/Mecca.

But if they had all the camels (and sheep) described in the literature then very quickly all the fodder would be grazed to nothing for miles around.

Even the much better of Yathrib (significant water and growth, lots of dates and likely small gardens) would have been a miserable and dirty place to live.

Love to hear any disagreement with the guesses above or ideas you have of what it must be like (even if Mecca only was settled years later.)
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pr126
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by pr126 »

I guess it was miserable existence by our standards.

But if that was that all they ever knew and lived in, it must have been the norm, there was nothing else to compare it to. It was for them as 'good as it gets'.

So filth and lack of sanitation did not count as "abnormal" to those people.
Lack of clean water? There are still millions of people in Africa and elsewhere who do not have that.
Some have to walk miles daily to get water for drinking, cooking etc.

Here in the UK we had adverts for decades to donate for charity to get water for the African people.
I don't know if they still run those because I stopped watching terrestial TV for years.
I watch iPlayer on an odd occasion and Netflix. No adverts, thankfully.
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Fernando
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by Fernando »

HerbM wrote:Love to hear any disagreement with the guesses above or ideas you have of what it must be like (even if Mecca only was settled years later.)
I suppose the nomadic Arabs would have had it better - they could move to find what water and growth was available and leave their residues for the elements to deal with.
Either way, once they conquered the first outposts of Romanised civilisation, it must have seemed like heaven to them. No wonder they kept on fighting.
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idesigner1
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by idesigner1 »

It was very unlikely that Mecca could have population of 5000 at the time when Mohemmed live.

The core must have population of few hundred if there was small oasis.After all it was place of pilgrimage and have managed to get some water from somewhere.

There must have been small populations living around Mecca or many visiting from coast at the time of pilgrimage. Ancients were not good at recording population.When few thousand is mentioned it meant the population at time of festivals or fares.
Don't have to worry lot about cleanliness and hygiene of ancients. Ghenghiz and Moghuls were not clean people .They came from very harsh environment but controlled half of civilized world. On the contrary filth, hardship, privation made Saracens or Arabs pretty mean battle hardened warriors. In no time they reduced Ancient Rome and Persian , and Egyptian empire to dust.

Or in fifth century Mecca was not as dry as it is today.Must be getting some rain when hit by freak storms from coast. Archeologists can give some answers.
HerbM
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by HerbM »

idesigner1 wrote:...
Or in fifth century Mecca was not as dry as it is today.Must be getting some rain when hit by freak storms from coast. Archeologists can give some answers.
Do you know of any sources for this?

It's the type of thing I a seeking so they would be much appreciated.
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Fernando
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by Fernando »

There's the little matter of the Sahara once having been green (after previously being desert??) but dried up relatively recently. It's not something I know anything about, but this gives an idea of the change. Could it be Arabia was similarly affected and was still wetter in Mo's day than it is now?
The findings of this study are that the sedimentological and geochemical properties of the lake sediments confirm that the Sahara has been drying slowly from six thousand years ago to reach the present day conditions around 1,100 years ago,” said Pierre Francus, professor at the National Institute of Scientific Research in Quebec, Canada.[my emphasis]
http://www.messagetoeagle.com/changed-g ... ra-desert/
‘Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literary traditions. They neither intermarry nor eat together, and indeed they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.’ Muhammad Ali Jinnah
M85
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by M85 »

HerbM wrote:
idesigner1 wrote:...
Or in fifth century Mecca was not as dry as it is today.Must be getting some rain when hit by freak storms from coast. Archeologists can give some answers.
Do you know of any sources for this?

It's the type of thing I a seeking so they would be much appreciated.
Hi Herb,

You may want to check if someone over at the CEMB (Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain) forum might be aware of a specific source for the Meccan climate. Also if you glance through the "Qur'anic studies today" thread you should find other valuable sources and info. Here is the thread ->
http://www.councilofexmuslims.com/index ... icseen#new" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The creator and main contributor of that thread, zeca, would likely be a superb contact for that type of specific information.

Also, if you want to do a google search on a specific site, such as the CEMB forum, I would use the following format with a google search (Example, searching the CEMB forum for the keyword "climate" and "Mecca"):
site:www.councilofexmuslims.com climate Mecca
I've found the site specific google searches are extremely useful in weeding out random junk from the results.
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Fernando
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by Fernando »

M85 wrote:Also, if you want to do a google search on a specific site, such as the CEMB forum, I would use the following format with a google search (Example, searching the CEMB forum for the keyword "climate" and "Mecca"):
site:www.councilofexmuslims.com climate Mecca
I've found the site specific google searches are extremely useful in weeding out random junk from the results.
That's an excellent search tip - thanks. I might even try it out here! :-)
‘Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literary traditions. They neither intermarry nor eat together, and indeed they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.’ Muhammad Ali Jinnah
M85
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by M85 »

Absolutely Fernando. The little site: trick is great, and I've used it here as well :)
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Ibn Rushd
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by Ibn Rushd »

These are interesting questions. In Crone's book "Meccan Trade", it was discovered that 100% of products were imported from northern Mesopotamia and Levant. No local products were produced. It stretches the imagination to believe there was thriving industry anywhere in the Arabian Peninsula. Also, Mecca was not mentioned or inhabited until these hagiographies of Muhammad were being written 2 centuries later. At the time of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, his mother was said to have trooped around looking for holy sites. This sound suspiciously like Constantine and his mother, Helen, who also trooped around the Holy Land looking for holy relics. Does this mean Mecca as a settlement didn't exist before this time? Probably.

We also know that the horns used to sound festivals was located in Jerusalem, hanging on ropes on the wall of the Dome of the Rock. This was the primary reason for accepting Isaac as the sacrifice in the first 2 centuries. After that, constant incursions and Byzantine retaking of the lands, led the Muslims to flee south, where there were no prior claims, and it was pretty empty. They probably built their new holy site, on the findings of Mrs. Harun, and brought the horns with them. This was the beginning of the Ishmael claims, and it took a further 200 yrs for that to be settled. The reason being that they had to justify this new place with some background. The 40 Hadith Qudsi also record the superior place of Jerusalem, and on J-Day the Ka'aba is supposed to walk to her husband, Jerusalem (woman subservient to man).

I can post some books in the Resource Centre so that you can look into it further.
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Takeiteasynow
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Re: Detailed Map reconstructions of Mecca and/or Yathrib

Post by Takeiteasynow »

manfred wrote:I have never seen a contemporary map, only some later attempts to construct one. In fact some scholars suggest that certainly Mecca did not even exist at the time of Mohammad, pointing to the quibla of very early mosques which clearly point elsewhere. They suggest that Mohammad is a mythical figure (broadly based on an actual medieval Arab warlord) who was later in Islam associated with a relatively new town of Mecca for political reasons.

Image
These projected lines indicate a separate qibla pointing to the Rawwafa temple (founded between 166 and 169 AD), in what is now northwest Saudi Arabia. During the reign of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius we find that a Thamud tribe was enrolled in the Roman army. They constructed a temple at Rawwafa, 200 miles north of Medina. It has this bilingual Greek-Nabataean inscription:
For the wellbeing of the rulers of the whole world . . . Marcus Aurelius Anthoninus and Lucius Aurelius Verus, who are the conquerors of the Armenians. This is the temple that was built by the tribal unit of Thamud, the leaders of their unit, so that it might be established by their hands and be their place of veneration for ever.
The Roman military document Notitia Dignitatum mentions two cavalry units of Thamud, one serving in Egypt and the other in Palestine in the fifth century AD. So the Thamudic tradition was alive and fresh - not ancient - when Muhammad was born.

But more interesting: Archeologists uncovered this squarish temple building there with a courtyard, a tripartite room in the back, two side-rooms, and a central chamber with a restricted area, dedicated to an unnamed creator-God. They found this inscription:
“...The temple which Shiddat, the priest of Allah, son of Megido, who is from Rabato, made for God . . . with the encouragement of our lord the governor.”
So we can be certain that Allah had a monotheistic definition at least 500 to 600 years before the birth of Islam (especially with the latest evidence from Safaitic inscriptions).
Abraham= H'ammu'rab(b)i, Historical Muhammad=Benjamin of Tiberias. Islam: Syncretic Israelite Yahwishm Deity: nameless, epithets Dsr, El Qutbay, ʼAlâhâ, Allāh. Ka'ba: Kutha => Samaria => Petra=> Makkah. Hijrah 622: Petra => Kerak
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