Damascus
Introduction: Still inhabited today, Damascus is one of the oldest and most economically successful cities to exist not only in Syria, but throughout the entire Eurasian continent. One of the main reasons for the Damascene economic success, was its location on the silk routes. It was located at the end of the trading routes which made it a strong anchor, and a great city for finding all types of goods that had been traded from the Mediterranean to the Eastern coast of China.

Economics:
For about six hundred years, Damascus was known for its incredibly strong and durable steel. It was created with such great quality that it was used for weapons, tools, and other devices that required a strong material. Other countries from all over were willing to pay top dollar for the Damascene metalworks which meant that money was flowing in and out of the city like a desert wind. To control this money, the Umayyads had the idea of using a bank where they would put all of the profits they made from the trade routes. They had one currency throughout their entire empire which made trade and banking easier and quicker. The markets that surrounded the mosques were vital to their economic success People from all over would come to visit these huge structures to pray to their god and then while they were in the city, they would see goods being sold at acceptable prices which would make these travelers want to buy. With the help of mosques, banking, metal making, and its place on the map, Damascus was able to become one of the premier trading cities in the Middle East. In 661, a golden age had begun for Damascus. Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufian established himself as the fifth caliph or successor of the prophet, founding the Umayyad Dynasty that continued to rule the Muslim empire for about one century. Muawiyah made Damascus the capital of his empire, which was expanding to the east and the west. Soon, Damscus bacame the most important cultural, economic, and political center in an empire that stretched from Spain to the Indian penninsula.


Social:
The year 635 C.E. was a turning point in the history of Damascus. In March 635, Muslim armies under Khaled Ibn al-Walid entered Damascus and annexed Syria to the quickly expanding Muslim empire. The Muslims had travelled from the Arabian Peninsula northwards, inspired by their new religion, facing little resistance on their way. But Damascus proved to be more than an obstacle to the invaders; the city held against attacks for six months before a committee of Damascene notables surrendered the city to the Muslim leaders. Islam brought to Damascus a new set of cultural, economic and social rules. The way of life changed in accordance with the teachings of the Quran. There was mass conversion to Islam, but Jews and Christians, who became minorities, were treated with tolerance by the Muslims. Christians and Muslims prayed side by side in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, before Muslim rulers decided to build the Great Mosque on the same site.

Political: Damascus was never as politically advanced as it was econimically. In fact, it would be fair to say that the Damascene politics were below average. There were a couple of reasons for this, they were:the often change of power over the city,the lack of a consistant law system, and its location. There were larger, more sophisticated empires around Syria such as the Abbasid, Umayyad, Egyptian and others that were always looking to benefit from Damascus' economic wealth so their leaders would often claim ownership of the city. This made it tough for the political aspect of the city to grow. Damascus was frequently being attacked as well but the Syrian leaders could not do much to retaliate due to huge number of men in the neighboring, intruding armies.

The Ghassanids were an Arabian tribe that converted to christianity. They assisted the Byzantine governors of Damascus and defended the area against Sassanid Persians. However, in 612 C.E., the Persian king Chosraes II invaded Damascus, and the Persians ruled the city until 627, when Byzantine rule was restored. Byzantine Damascus remained much the same as it had during the Roman period, except for the mass construction of churches and the transformation of the Temple of Jupiter into the cathedral dedicated to St. John the Baptist in the fourth century. In addition to this cathedral, 16 churches were built in and around Damascus. The Church of al- Mosallaba was built near the Eastern Gate at the site where the Chapel of Ananias now stands. The site has been chosen because its thought to be the place where St. Paul was cured of his blindness after his vision on the road to Damascus. Two churches were also built in this area: The Church of al-Maqsala'at and the Church of Mariam (Mary), which was replaced by the Maryamiyyah Church which still stands today.