Aleppo has been at the centre of trade routes across Syria since the 3rd millennium BC. The city is mentioned in old manuscript texts. Aleppo is in the Northwest of the country on a plateau. It lies about 100 km from the sea, notably Latakia to the West, which was the port that connected the land route from Central Asia to the sea route, bringing goods to Italy and Spain. To the East, the Euphrates also an important route, gave Aleppo its preponderance over the centuries. The citadel, which protected the bazaar, was also the best preserved example in the region, thus underlining its commercial importance.
Aleppo or Halab in Arabic, was taken over very many times in its long history by numerous powers who understood its commercial and strategic importance. The Seleucids conquered it in the 3rd century BC, naming it Beroea, and it became a major trading hub connecting the Mediterranean world with Central Asia .
The city was renamed Halab after the Arab conquest in 637 AD. Aleppo’s importance never diminished, as its trade and cultural influence expanded. It resisted at the times of the Crusades, which affected the region. In the 12th century, Aleppo was conquered by the Ayyubid dynasty, and trade grew vigorously, and even trading treaties were signed with Venice, giving Aleppo a privileged place in the trade linking the continents and links to some of the most important maritime merchants in Europe at that time.
The arrival of the Mongols in 1260 was calamitous for the city which was destroyed, and ended the lucrative trade connecting it with the Silk Road. When it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1516, the city was able to expand its trade again, and revive culturally.
Persian silks, Indian pepper, textiles, woven cloths, soaps and dyes, hides, wood, cotton, vegetables, fruit and nuts.
Next city…. BYZANTIUM/ CONSTANTINOPLE/ISTANBUL
A VERY SHORT READING LIST FOR THE SILK ROAD (AND BOOKS USED FOR THE WEBSITE) 11/12/2020
- “Lords of the Horizons – A History of the Ottoman Empire”, by Jason Goodwin. Vintage. 1998
- “The Silk Road – A New History”, by Valerie Hansen. OUP 2012
- “Introduction to Byzantium, 602 -1453”, by Jonathan Harris. Routledge. 2020
- “The Silk Road – A very short Introduction”, by James A. Millward. OUP. 2013
- SERKIS, Christiane. Des Fondateurs de Religions; de certaines langues antiques. Lausanne 2020 Article inédit.
- “Life Along the Silk Road”, by Susan Whitfield. UCal Press 2015
- “Silk Roads – Peoples, Cultures, Landscapes”, Edited by Susan Whitfield. Thames and Hudson. 2019