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Mosul

(1,822 words)

Author(s): Ariel I. Ahram
Mosul (Ar. al-Mawṣil) is a city on the southern banks of the Tigris River in northern Iraq approximately 362 kilometers (225 miles) north of Baghdad. Under Ottoman rule, Mosul was the capital of the province (Ar. vilayet) of the same name that spanned the southern part of Kurdistan. In ancient times, then known as Nineveh (Ninawa), it was the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which reached its zenith from 668 to 627 B.C.E. Mosul prospered as a provincial capital under the Umayyads and as a trade-hub astride the east-west land co…

Hilla

(451 words)

Author(s): Ariel I. Ahram
Hilla (Ar. al-Ḥilla) is a city on the northern bank of the Euphrates River in Iraq. It was founded in 1102 near the ancient ruins of Babylon and sits astride the Muslim pilgrimage route midway between Baghdad and Kufa. The name Hilla appears to refer both to the city itself and to the surrounding rural districts. Today, Hilla is the capital of Iraq’s Babil governorate. The city was an important transit hub for riverine commerce and hosted a large market. In the twelfth century, Benjamin of Tudela reported that Hilla had ten thousand Jews and four synagogues, but it is likely th…

Baghdad

(4,343 words)

Author(s): Yaron Ayalon | Ariel I. Ahram
1. Medieval Baghdad was founded by the caliph al-Manṣūr (r. 754–775) as the new capital of the Abbasid state and served as the seat of the caliphs till the Mongol conquest in 1258. Jews apparently settled in Baghdad from the very beginning, most of them arriving at first from neighboring towns in Iraq, and later from distant lands as well. At some point in the eighth century, Baghdad became the largest Jewish center in Iraq. Although most of the Jews in Baghdad were concentrated in the Dār al-Yāhūd quarter, many, especially merchants and tradesmen, lived elsewhere. Al-Karkh, a co…