The early years of Islam saw the transformation of the Middle East from a contested territory between the two great successor states, Byzantium and Persia, into the centre of a new and articulated civilization with a character distinctively its own. The oldest Arab historical traditions were genealogical and anecdotal, and the earliest Arabic works of history were annalistic chronicles and collections of accounts of striking traditions. In the great Hellenistic centres which were to fall to the Arabs, Greek traditions of mathematics, medicine and astronomy had flourished in the pagan period. Muawiyah, founder of the Umayyad line, was said to stay up long hours of the night studying the history and policy of foreign rulers. The processes by which Greek themes and modes of thought were made at home in the Islamic world of Arabic literature, not merely disguised, but adjusted to the Islamic experience and the Arabicidiom, is a fascinating and complex subject than the movement of translation itself.