These essays explore the imperial struggle for control of Syria (and the Levant) during the past five millennia. Modern civilization began in the ancient Levant (contemporary Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria) and the region has been continuously inhabited for millennia.

          The Concise Essay first looks at the origins of the empire or kingdom – how founder-kings exploited favorable circumstances to their advantage. I then turn to an examination of sources of wealth and power in the ancient world – agriculture, foreign trade, and foreign conquest. I move on to means of control – political organization and religious persuasion – used by ruling elites to retain power and extract wealth from the masses. Next I examine causes of decline in Syria – internal erosion of control followed by foreign incursions by competing enemies. I then summarize the key trends in the aftermath of the Roman Empire – how successful later groups were in holding on to power and creating wealth. At the end of the essay, I draw lessons for contemporary powers from the experiences of ancient empires and kingdoms.

         The Complete Essay allows the reader to go more in-depth into Persia's past. Primary attention is paid to the period when Syria was under the control of the Roman Empire (64 BCE-476 CE). The first part of the essay investigates the three millennia of the Levant’s history before the Roman Empire (31st-1st centuries BCE), the second analyzes the rise, rule, and fall of the Roman Empire (1st century BCE-5th century CE), and the third examines the aftermath – the Byzantine and Islamic periods in Syria from the 5th century through the present. A time line, a bibliography, and a description of sites visited in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon are appended at the end of the essay.

Airplane-based, Aboard a TCS and Starquest Expeditions Jet, Beirut, Lebanon, Jerash, Mt. Nebo, and Madaba, Jordan, Bushtracks Expeditions, Wadi Rum, Petra, Aboard the Silver Whisper, Aqaba, Jordan, Land-based, Damascus, Syria, Crac des Chevaliers, Hama, and Apemea, Syria, Aleppo, Palmyra, Bosra, Kerak, Dead Sea, Amman, Aboard Le Ponant