Today in Middle Eastern history: the Siege of Damascus ends (634)

and that's the way it was

Before the Battle of Yarmouk broke Byzantine military power south of the Taurus and Anti-Taurus Mountains pretty much for good, Caliphal forces had already taken the jewel of Roman Syria, Damascus, nearly two years earlier. How they did so may illustrate part of the reason why the Arab armies had such a relatively easy time conquering such a big chunk of the Byzantine Empire.

Today, of course, Damascus is a depleted shell of a city, hollowed out and brutalized by the Syrian civil war. But Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites on the planet, with evidence of settlement as far back as the 9000s BCE and of urban settlement as far back as the second millennium BCE. Under Roman control from 64 BCE on, its importance as a marketplace for caravan goods from the east and south allowed it to prosper, and by the 7th century it…

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