The Moor Next Door describes Middle Eastern superpower politics in an age before the coming of Islam, featuring the Christianized Arab for Byzantium -- "our most pious and Christ-loving kings" -- versus the vassals of the Shah. Nearly everything has changed. The names of the superpowers, the religions of the contenders, what they fought over, the respective roles of defender and attacker, the settled and nomad. All that is roughly recognizable today are the nations. I suppose an archaeologist picking over the battlefields, finding an arrowhead here and a sword shard there must ask himself: what did they strive for? For what did they live?