The Abbasid Dynasty, founded by Abu al-Abbas in 750 CE, spent most of its existance in political and social turmoil, but culturally was a time of amazing artistic and scientific acheivement. The Abbasid Caliphate was the second great Muslim kingdom. It was ruled by a caliph who served as both a political and religious leader.
Towards the middle of the Abbasid Caliphate, deterioration began to occur. LIfe became more dangerous in towns and in the country; the Abbasid revenue base trickled away;the caliph lost his firm hold on the vast area. But in the midst of this chaos, there was a bloom in the classes of professionals, artists, and craftsmen.
After the fall of the Han Dynasty and the Roman Empire, Europe and Asia saw a decline in trade. Under the Abbasids, the Afro-Eurasian trade routes were revived. Muslim, Jewish, and Christian tradesmen made their fortunes supplying the empire with staple foods, cotton, wool, precious gems, sugar, and citrus fruits. They also introduced Europe and the Islamic world to papermaking, silk-weaving, and ceramic firing of China. This interchange of goods brought with it cultural interchange and power to the Abbasid caliphate.
It was also during this time that Abbasids artisans made their contributions. Great achievements in architecture and engineering were made: palaces and mosques became more beautiful and ornate. The tapestries and rugs of Muslim peoples, especially the Persians, were improved and are still some of the finest in the modern era. Fine bronzes, supurb ceramic pitchers and bowls, and gorgeous deep blue, glazed tiles were also produced.
This time also saw the development of Persian literature. Though Arabic was the language of the sciences, the musical Persian language was that of literature. During this period, some of the most famous pieces of Persian literature were written, such as the "Rubaiyyat" of Omar Khayyan. Another great work of the time was the "Shah-Nama", or "Book of Kings", by Firdawsi, which depicted the history of Persia in an epic poem. Along with histories, Persian writers wrote of romance, statecraft, everyday life, and Muslim theology. One of the most famous poets of the time, Sa'di, wrote some beautiful poetry using his experiences to teach religious messages.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Abbasid era was one of the sciences. The Muslims made the huge contribution to society in preserving and compiling the knowledge of the Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, and every other civilization they conquered. In their study of mathematics they adopted Indian numerals (now called Arabic numerals), as well as making leaps in algebra and geometry, and some basic concepts of trigonometry - sine, cosine, and tangent. In chemistry they began to classify objects as animal, vegetable, or mineral. Muslim astronomers reorganized several constellations, renamed Altair and Betelgeuse, and made impressively accurate star charts. Muslim doctors were some of the best of their time and were required to pass examinations before they could practice medicine. In the chaos of the mid to late Abbasid caliphate, the world found a place of immense cultural achievement.