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Southwestern Asia 475

minor, people, sea, turks, cities, land and time

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SOUTHWESTERN ASIA 475. Its ancient glory. Asia, the land south of the Caspian Sea and west of India, has few people in it now. But in the time of Christ, Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor had great wealthy cities. Hundreds of years before that time, the big cities of Babylon and Nineveh, near where Bagdad now is, had wonderful temples and great libraries, good roads, and irrigation canals big enough for boats. You read of these in the Bible. Their books were made by writing with sharp pencils on smooth pieces of soft clay that were afterwards heated, just as we heat' A few oases occur here and there. The climate of this whole region of southwestern Asia is much like that of southern Cali fornia and Arizona, only drier.

The Dead Sea is saltier than Great Salt Lake in Utah. It lies in a deep hollow, and its shores are the lowest dry land in the world. The Jordan River flows into it, but the dry air drinks up the water faster than this river can bring it in. For this reason, its surface has lowered until now it is thirteen hundred feet lower than the Mediterranean. Great Salt Lake is also being lowered. Once, both of these bodies of water were much larger than now.

477. Surface.—The peninsulas of Arabia and Asia Minor are plateaus, with moun tains near their edges. The mountains help to make the interior of these peninsu las very dry. To the east of Asia Minor are the mountains of Armenia. The melt ing snow from these mountains feeds the great rivers Tigris and Euphrates. These rivers have built up a large plain of soft, fine, level soil in their valleys. It is this rich, level plain, irrigated by these snow waters, that fed great cities and made Nebuchadnezzar and the other kings of Babylon and the Kings of Nineveh so pow erful in Old Testament times. What book of the Bible tells about them? 478. The coming of the Turks.—About seven hundred years ago, the cruel armies of the Turks took all Asia west of Persia. They were afraid of the power of the cities, and destroyed many of them, and killed the inhabitants. Ever since that time, the people who live in western Asia have suf fered from the unjust rule of the Turks.

The Turkish tax gatherer takes nearly all of the crops, leaving just enough to keep the people alive. If they have any more property, the Turkish tax gatherer takes it, so the ,people do not try to work hard and save. It is the unjust, cruel govern ment that has made these people poor and miserable. A just government is one of the most important things in the world. Even in a democracy, everybody has to keep trying to keep the government good.

Now that the World War has driven the Turks out of the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates, these plains may again become green with crops and be the home of many men. The crops will be the same as those of Egypt.

479. peoples live west of the Euphrates. These are Greeks, Turks, Arme nians, Jews, and Arabs. Let us see where these people live.

480. Asia Greeks made their homes along the western coast of Asia Minor, even before the time of Christ. Smyrna is still a Greek city, although most of the people of the peninsula of Asia Minor are Turks. The Armenians live in the mountainous country between the corners of the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. In the Old Testament, they were called Hittites, and they had a good kingdom four thousand years ago. They have been Christians for eighteen hundred years. Many of them have been massacred by the Turks. It is so mountainous there that very little of the land can be used for farms.

Many Armenians, who are great traders, have made their homes in Constantinople, Smyrna, and in other cities along the Mediterranean. Many have come to the United States.

There is a little agriculture along the west coast of Asia Minor. Here many figs are grown, and shipped from Smyrna to the United States. The interior of Asia Minor is so dry that most of the land ig like the land of New Mex ico. For this reason it is given over to flocks and herds, except where there is enough water for irrigation. There is need of many large dams and canals to save and use the water that now runs away to the sea.

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