Al-Iskandriah, commonly known as Alexandria, is a city with a rich and fascinating history located in the Babil Governorate of Iraq. Situated on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, Al-Iskandriah has been an important center of civilization for thousands of years. Its strategic location along major trade routes, combined with its fertile lands, has attracted settlers and empires throughout history.
The origins of Al-Iskandriah can be traced back to ancient times when it was known as Babylon. Babylon was one of the most significant cities of the ancient world and the capital of the mighty Babylonian Empire. It flourished under the rule of Hammurabi in the 18th century BCE, who established a code of laws that became renowned as the Code of Hammurabi. During this period, the city's population reached an estimated 200,000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest and most prosperous cities of its time.
The political environment of Babylon greatly influenced its history. It was frequently the center of power struggles and conquests. The city witnessed the rise and fall of various empires, including the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and finally the famous empire of Alexander the Great. Each empire left its mark on the city, contributing to its cultural and architectural heritage.
The conquest of Babylon by Alexander the Great in 331 BCE was a turning point in its history. After defeating the Persian Empire, Alexander chose Babylon as the capital of his vast empire. The city experienced a period of significant growth and cultural exchange during this time. It became a cosmopolitan hub, attracting scholars, artists, and philosophers from all over the Mediterranean and Near East. The population of Babylon during the Hellenistic period is estimated to have exceeded 300,000 inhabitants.
However, the political environment changed once again after the death of Alexander. The empire was divided among his generals, and Babylon fell under the control of the Seleucid dynasty. Under their rule, the city continued to flourish as a center of trade and learning. However, it faced numerous challenges, including conflicts with neighboring powers and revolts by the local population.
In the 2nd century BCE, Babylon came under the control of the Parthians, who were followed by the Sassanians in the 3rd century CE. During the Sassanian period, the city experienced a decline in its population and influence. It faced frequent invasions and was gradually abandoned, leading to a significant decrease in its inhabitants.
The Islamic conquest in the 7th century CE marked a new era for Babylon. The city, now known as Al-Iskandriah, became an important center of Islamic culture and scholarship. The Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled from Baghdad, regarded Al-Iskandriah as a significant outpost in the region. The city's strategic location along the Euphrates River and its proximity to the Persian Gulf made it an important trade and military hub.
The political and geographical environment of Al-Iskandriah played a crucial role in shaping its history during the Islamic period. The city became a frontier region, frequently contested between different powers, including the Abbasids, Buyids, and Seljuks. It was also affected by the shifting power dynamics in the region, such as the Mongol invasions in the 13th century and the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.