Baghdad: the world’s largest city in 900 AD

28.04.2015 |

Episode #6 of the course “Greatest Cities Throughout History”

Baghdad was the center of the Golden Age of Islam in 900 A.D. The Golden Age brought about significant Muslim achievements from scientists, artisans, and traders. In 900 A.D., the Muslim Empire stretched across the present-day countries of Spain, North Africa, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and parts of Turkey. Baghdad became a place where cultures and traditions intermixed freely, and the Arabic language developed by the 9th century, allowing these people to communicate with one another and share ideas.

Communication and learning also increased following the introduction of the paper mill. Baghdad’s period of enlightenment helped to preserve numerous historical writings, as they were all transcribed into Arabic. This sharing of cultures and ideas likely led to the population boom—Baghdad had 900,000 citizens in 900 A.D. It also likely led to the Arab Agricultural Revolution, which introduced a more scientific approach to farming that is still used today. In fact, science-focused theory was used for medicine as well, and the citizens made great strides to improve the overall health of their citizens. They also pioneered mathematical areas like algebra and trigonometry and introduced the algorithm.

Even as the citizens learned more and more, they still upheld their pious existence. A large mosque in the center of the city was a huge part of their daily lives. Shops developed around the mosque, and traders from around the known world came to peddle their goods. Baghdad’s position along the Silk Road made it especially favorable for trade.

Baghdad was eventually sacked by the Mongols, but that wasn’t until 1250 A.D. Today, Baghdad boasts roughly 5.6 million citizens (although estimates vary upward significantly) and serves as the capital of the Republic of Iraq, where it is the largest city.


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