History of Aleppo
going back to the early 2nd millennium BC, competes with Damascus
on being the oldest inhabited city in the world. It appeared in the
Hittite archives in central Anatolia and in the archives of Mari
on the Euphrates. Aleppo (Halab) was the capital of the Amorite kingdom of
Yamkhad, in the
middle centuries of that millennium. It was the focus of the
Hittites in their overthrow of the Amorite Dynasty, in 1595 BC. In
about 1000 BC, Northern Syria was taken over by the Sea Peoples;
remained a small Neo-Hittite state. From 800 BC to 400 BC, the
Assyrians followed by the Persians were in control of Syria.
In 333 BC, Aleppo was taken over by Alexander the Great, and was
kept under the Greeks for 300 years in the form of the Seleucid
Empire. During this time Aleppo
was an important trading city, between the Euphrates and Antioch.
In 64 BC Pompey brought Syria under Roman domination. It remained
under Roman control in the form of the Byzantine Empire until 637AD,
when the Arabs took over.
the 10th century Aleppo was taken over by the Hamdanids who made it
virtually independent until 962 AD when it was retaken by the
Byzantine Empire. In 1098, it was circled by soldiers from the First
Crusade who could not conquer it, but paralyzed its commercial
power. It was besieged again in 1124 by another Crusade, and then
taken over by Zengi and his successor Nur al Din.
Saladin then took over and at his death the Ayyubid dynasty was
perpetuated in Aleppo.
At the Mameluke period, trade was diverted from Aleppo
to the North in Antioch and to the South through Palmyra.
But when the Mongol Empire broke up and some converted to Islam,
trade resumed through Aleppo.
The Ottomans later took over, but by that time Europe had redirected
its trade through sea routes to India and China.
During World War I, Aleppo's trade rose with the arrival of
Armenian refugees, who fled the Ottoman massacres. But after France
had given Antioch to Turkey, Aleppo
lost its Mediterranean outlet.