History of Baghdad: Wikis


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This article documents the history of Baghdad. Baghdad (Arabic: بغدادBaġdād) is the capital of Iraq and of Baghdad Governorate. With a metropolitan area estimated at a population of 7,000,000, it is the largest city in Iraq. It is the second-largest city in the Arab world (after Cairo) and the second-largest city in southwest Asia (after Tehran).



Founded on 30 July 762 by the Abbasid dynasty, at the request of the caliph al-Mansur. The goal was to replace Harran as the seat of the caliphal government; however, a city of Baghdad is mentioned in pre-Islamic texts, including the Talmud,[1] and the Abbasid city was likely built on the site of this earlier settlement.

Zumurrud Khaton tomb in Baghdad,1932

Baghdad eclipsed Ctesiphon, the capital of the Persian Empire, which was located some 30 km (20 miles) to the southeast, which had been under Muslim control since 637, and which became quickly deserted after the foundation of Baghdad. The site of Babylon, which had been deserted since the 2nd century BC, lies some 90 km (55 miles) to the south.

The city was designed as a circle about 2 km in diameter, leading it to be known as the "Round City". The original design shows a ring of residential and commercial structures along the inside of the city walls, but the final construction added another ring, inside the first.[2] In the center of the city lay the mosque, as well as headquarters for guards. The purpose or use of the remaining space in the center is unknown. The circular design of the city was a direct reflection of the traditional Persian Sasanian urban design. The ancient Sasanian city of Gur/Firouzabad is nearly identical in its general circular design, radiating avenues, and the government buildings and temples at the center of the city.

The roundness points to the fact that it was based on Persian precedents such as Firouzabad in Persia.[3] The two designers who were hired by al-Mansur to plan the city's design were Naubakht, a former Persian Zoroastrian who also determined that the date of the foundation of the city would be astrologically auspicious, and Mashallah, a Jew from Khorasan, Iran.[4]

A center of learning (8th to 9th c.)

Within a generation of its founding, Baghdad became a hub of learning and commerce. The House of Wisdom was an establishment dedicated to the translation of Greek, Middle Persian and Syriac works. The Barmakids were influential in bringing scholars from the nearby Academy of Gundishapur, facilitating the introduction of Greek and Indian science into the Arabic world. Baghdad was likely the largest city in the world from shortly after its foundation until the 930s, when it was tied by Córdoba.[5] Several estimates suggest that the city contained over a million inhabitants at its peak.[6] A portion of the population of Baghdad originated in Iran, especially from Khorasan. Many of Scheherazade's tales in One Thousand and One Nights are set in Baghdad during this period.

Stagnation and invasions (10th to 16th c.)

By the 10th century, the city's population was between 300,000 and 500,000. Baghdad's early meteoric growth slowed due to troubles within the Caliphate, including relocations of the capital to Samarra (during 808–819 and 836–892), the loss of the western and easternmost provinces, and periods of political domination by the Iranian Buwayhids (945–1055) and Seljuk Turks (1055–1135). Nevertheless, the city remained one of the cultural and commercial hubs of the Islamic world until February 10, 1258, when it was sacked by the Mongols under Hulagu Khan during the sack of Baghdad. The Mongols massacred most of the city's inhabitants, including the Abbasid Caliph Al-Musta'sim, and destroyed large sections of the city. The canals and dykes forming the city's irrigation system were also destroyed. The sack of Baghdad put an end to the Abbasid Caliphate, a blow from which the Islamic civilization never fully recovered.

At this point Baghdad was ruled by the Il-Khanids, the Mongol emperors of Iran. In 1401, Baghdad was again sacked, by Timur ("Tamerlane"). It became a provincial capital controlled by the Jalayirid (1400–1411), Qara Quyunlu (1411–1469), Aq Quyunlu (1469–1508), and Safavid (1508–1534) dynasties.

Ottoman Baghdad (16th to 19th c.)

In 1534, Baghdad was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. Under the Ottomans, Baghdad fell into a period of decline, partially as a result of the enmity between its rulers and Persia. For a time, Baghdad had been the largest city in the Middle East before being overtaken by Constantinople in the 16th century. The city saw relative revival in the latter part of the 18th century under the Mamluk rule. The Nuttall Encyclopedia reports the 1907 population of Baghdad as 185,000.

20th century

Baghdad in 1932

Baghdad remained under Ottoman rule until the establishment of the kingdom of Iraq under British control in 1921. British control was established by a systematic suppression of Iraqi Arab and Kurdish national aspirations. Iraq was given formal independence in 1932, and increased autonomy in 1946. In 1958 the Iraqi Army deposed the grandson of the British-installed monarch, Faisal II. The city's population grew from an estimated 145,000 in 1900 to 580,000 in 1950 of which 140,000 were Jewish.

Baghdad in the 1970s

During the 1970s Baghdad experienced a period of prosperity and growth because of a sharp increase in the price of petroleum, Iraq's main export. New infrastructure including modern sewage, water, and highway facilities were built during this period. However, the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s was a difficult time for the city, as money flowed into the army and thousands of residents were killed. Iran launched a number of missile attacks against Baghdad, although they caused relatively little damage and few casualties. In 1991 the Persian Gulf War caused damage to Baghdad's transportation, power, and sanitary infrastructure.

2003 Invasion of Iraq

2003 street map of Baghdad

Baghdad was bombed very heavily in March and April 2003 in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and fell under US control by April 7-April 9. Additional damage was caused by the severe looting during the days following the end of the war. With the deposition of Saddam Hussein's regime, the city was occupied by U.S. troops. The Coalition Provisional Authority established a three-square-mile (8 km²) "Green Zone" within the heart of the city from which it governed Iraq during the period before the new Iraqi government was established. The Coalition Provisional Authority ceded power to the interim government at the end of June 2004 and dissolved itself.

A satellite false-color image of Baghdad, taken March 31, 2003. The image shows smoke rising from pools of burning oil spread along "Canal Road" and other locations. Ditches full of oil were created shortly before the war to obscure visibility (black) and vegetation (red)

On September 23, 2003, a Gallup poll indicated that about two-thirds of Baghdad residents said that the removal of the Iraqi leader was worth the hardships they encountered, and that they expected a better life in five years' time. As time passed, however, support for the occupation declined dramatically. In April 2004, USA Today reported that a follow-up Gallup poll in Baghdad indicated that "only 13 percent of the people now say the invasion of Iraq was morally justifiable. In the 2003 poll, more than twice that number saw it as the right thing to do."[7]

Most residents of Baghdad became impatient with the occupation because essential services such as electricity were still unreliable more than a year after the invasion. In the hot summer of 2004, electricity was only available intermittently in most areas of the city. An additional pressing concern was the lack of security. The curfew imposed immediately after the invasion had been lifted in the winter of 2003, but the city that had once had a vibrant night life was still considered too dangerous after dark for many citizens. Those dangers included kidnapping and the risk of being caught in fighting between security forces and insurgents.

On 10 April 2007, the United States military began construction of a three mile (5 km) long 3.5 metre tall wall around the Sunni district of Baghdad.[8] On 23 April , the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, called for construction to be halted on the wall.[9][10]

The on-going sectarian violence had, by the beginning of summer 2007, cantoned the city of Baghdad into distinct and hostile zones: a larger Shia city (nearly all of the city east of the Tigris, with the exception of Adhamiya and the Rashid districts), and a smaller Sunni city, west of the Tigris (with the exception of Kadhimiya and southwestern districts).[11]

See also


  1. ^ Ket. 7b, Zeb. 9a
  2. ^ http://islamicceramics.ashmol.ox.ac.uk/Abbasid/baghdad.htm
  3. ^ See:
  4. ^ Hill, Donald R. (1994). Islamic Science and Engineering. pp. 10. ISBN 0-7486-0457-X.  
  5. ^ Largest Cities Through History
  6. ^ Matt T. Rosenberg, Largest Cities Through History.
  7. ^ USATODAY.com - Poll: Iraqis out of patience
  8. ^ MacAskill, Ewen (2007-04-21). "Latest US solution to Iraq's civil war: a three-mile wall". guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/apr/21/iraq.iraqtimeline. Retrieved 2009-08-21.  
  9. ^ "Iraqi PM calls for halt to Baghdad wall". guardian.co.uk. 2007-04-23. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/apr/23/iraq.usa. Retrieved 2009-08-21.  
  10. ^ "Iraqi PM criticises Baghdad wall". BBC News. 2007-04-22. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6582225.stm. Retrieved 2009-08-21.  
  11. ^ The Gulf/2000 Project - SIPA - COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Electional Horoscope of the Founding of Baghdad



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