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Aleppo History, Syria

Aleppo History – The Battle of the Biggest Powers

Much of the Aleppo history is still visible inside the city in the part called the Old City, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986. There are many hypothesis concerning the origin of the name of the city, most of which come from the materials and natural resources available at the time in the area: the word could mean “iron” or “white” (referring to the color of soil and the abundance of marble), or simply “milk”, which the locals used to feed travelers passing through the area. Aleppo has a long history of conquerors that took the city under control, reason for which archaeologists haven’t been able to dig much in the area: it has been inhabited ever since. The territory was first under Assyrian and Persian control, before passing to the Greeks in the 4th century BC and later to the Romans, remaining part of the Byzantine Empire until it was conquered by the Arabs in the 7th century AD.

Aleppo History – The Invaders and the Natives

After the Arab conquest there was a period of great flourishing for Aleppo, both economically and culturally, as the atmosphere in the city produced poets and philosophers that are appreciated to this day. Although it was twice attacked by the crusaders, the city survived both attacks and it wasn’t conquered again. Unfortunately, disaster hit by natural causes and the city was devastated by an earthquake in 1138, with an estimated 230.000 people dead, which makes not only one of the most important events in Aleppo history, but also one of the most severe earthquakes in recorded history. The Mongols were next to take a shot at the city and after six days during which Aleppo resisted, it was conquered and all Muslims were slaughtered, but Christians got spared. After that the Egyptians gave a hand and defeated the Mongols, who came for revenge and prolonged these battles until 1317, when the city returned in the control of natives.

Aleppo History – The Strategic Placement

The Mongol curse was still not permanently removed, as Aleppo seemed to be a permanent target for the invading Mongol tribes. The famous leader Tamerlane conquered the city again in 1400 and ordered a tower of 20.000 skulls to be built outside the city. Having around 50.000 inhabitants, Aleppo became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1516 and it was there until the collapse of the empire, but the plague and cholera took their toll not just in Aleppo, but also in surrounding Beirut and Damascus. A short period under French colonial rule followed and Aleppo started prospering again. Since then the city hasn’t been targeted anymore, but it’s understandable that it was such a desirable territory throughout its entire history due to its incredibly strategic placement and access to all commercial routes.

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