The Abbasid Caliphate was the third of the Islamic caliphates to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib, from whom the dynasty takes its name, they ruled as caliphs for most of the caliphate from their capital in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, after having overthrown the Umayyad Caliphate in the Abbasid Revolution of 750 CE. The Abbasid Caliphate first centred its government in Kufa, modern-day Iraq, but in 762 the caliph Al-Mansur founded the city of Baghdad, near the ancient Sasanian capital city of Ctesiphon; the Abbasid period was marked by reliance on Persian bureaucrats for governing the territories as well as an increasing inclusion of non-Arab Muslims in the ummah. Persianate customs were broadly adopted by the ruling elite, they began patronage of artists and scholars. Baghdad became a centre of science, culture and invention in what became known as the Golden Age of Islam. Despite this initial cooperation, the Abbasids of the late 8th century had alienated both non-Arab mawali and Iranian bureaucrats.
They were forced to cede authority over al-Andalus to the Umayyads in 756, Morocco to the Idrisid dynasty in 788, Ifriqiya to the Aghlabids in 800 and Egypt to the Isma'ili-Shia caliphate of the Fatimids in 969. The political power of the caliphs ended with the rise of the Iranian Buyids and the Seljuq Turks, who captured Baghdad in 945 and 1055, respectively. Although Abbasid leadership over the vast Islamic empire was reduced to a ceremonial religious function, the dynasty retained control over its Mesopotamian domain; the Abbasids' period of cultural fruition ended in 1258 with the sack of Baghdad by the Mongols under Hulagu Khan. The Abbasid line of rulers, Muslim culture in general, re-centred themselves in the Mamluk capital of Cairo in 1261. Though lacking in political power, the dynasty continued to claim religious authority until after the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517; the Abbasid caliphs were Arabs descended from Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, one of the youngest uncles of Muhammad and of the same Banu Hashim clan.
The Abbasids claimed to be the true successors of Prophet Muhammad in replacing the Umayyad descendants of Banu Umayya by virtue of their closer bloodline to Muhammad. The Abbasids distinguished themselves from the Umayyads by attacking their moral character and administration in general. According to Ira Lapidus, "The Abbasid revolt was supported by Arabs the aggrieved settlers of Merv with the addition of the Yemeni faction and their Mawali"; the Abbasids appealed to non-Arab Muslims, known as mawali, who remained outside the kinship-based society of the Arabs and were perceived as a lower class within the Umayyad empire. Muhammad ibn'Ali, a great-grandson of Abbas, began to campaign in Persia for the return of power to the family of Prophet Muhammad, the Hashimites, during the reign of Umar II. During the reign of Marwan II, this opposition culminated in the rebellion of Ibrahim the Imam, the fourth in descent from Abbas. Supported by the province of Khorasan though the governor opposed them, the Shia Arabs, he achieved considerable success, but was captured in the year 747 and died assassinated, in prison.
On 9 June 747, Abu Muslim, rising from Khorasan initiated an open revolt against Umayyad rule, carried out under the sign of the Black Standard. Close to 10,000 soldiers were under Abu Muslim's command when the hostilities began in Merv. General Qahtaba followed the fleeing governor Nasr ibn Sayyar west defeating the Umayyads at the Battle of Gorgan, the Battle of Nahāvand and in the Battle of Karbala, all in the year 748; the quarrel was taken up by Ibrahim's brother Abdallah, known by the name of Abu al-'Abbas as-Saffah, who defeated the Umayyads in 750 in the battle near the Great Zab and was subsequently proclaimed caliph. After this loss, Marwan fled to Egypt; the remainder of his family, barring one male, were eliminated. After their victory, As-Saffah sent his forces to Central Asia, where his forces fought against Tang expansion during the Battle of Talas; the noble Iranian family Barmakids, who were instrumental in building Baghdad, introduced the world's first recorded paper mill in the city, thus beginning a new era of intellectual rebirth in the Abbasid domain.
As-Saffah focused on putting down numerous rebellions in Mesopotamia. The Byzantines conducted raids during these early distractions; the first change the Abbasids, under Al-Mansur, made was to move the empire's capital from Damascus, in Syria, to Baghdad in Iraq. This was to both appease as well to be closer to the Persian mawali support base that existed in this region more influenced by Persian history and culture, part of the Persian mawali demand for less Arab dominance in the empire. Baghdad was established on the Tigris River in 762. A new position, that of the vizier, was established to delegate central authority, greater authority was delegated to local emirs; this meant that many Abbasid caliphs were relegated to a more ceremonial role than under the Umayyads, as the viziers began to exert greater influence, the role of the old Arab aristocracy was replaced by a Persian bureaucracy. During Al-Mansur's time control of Al-Andalus was lost, the Shia revolted and were defeated a year at the Battle of Bakhamra.
The Abbasids had depended on the support of Persians in their overthrow of the Umayyads. Abu al-'Abbas' successor, Al-Mansur welcomed non-Arab Musli
Battle of Nikiou
The Battle of Nikiou was a battle between Arab Muslim troops under General Amr ibn al-A'as and the Byzantine Empire in Egypt in May of 646. Following their victory at the Battle of Heliopolis in July 640, the subsequent capitulation of Alexandria in November 641, Arab troops had taken over what was the Roman province of Egypt; the newly installed Byzantine Emperor Constans II was determined to re-take the land, ordered a large fleet to carry troops to Alexandria. These troops, under Manuel, took the city by surprise from its small Arab garrison towards the end of 645 in an amphibious attack. In 645 the Byzantine thus temporarily won Alexandria back. Amr at the time may have been in Mecca, was recalled to take command of the Arab forces in Egypt; the battle took place at the small fortified town of Nikiou, about two-thirds of the way from Alexandria to Fustat, with the Arab forces numbering around 15,000, against a smaller Byzantine force. The Arabs prevailed, the Byzantine forces retreated in disarray, back to Alexandria.
Although the Byzantines closed the gates against the pursuing Arabs, the city of Alexandria fell to the Arabs, who stormed the city sometime in the summer of that year. The defeat of Manuel's forces marked the last attempt by the Byzantine Empire to recapture Egypt for some 500 years, with only Emperor Manuel I Komnenos sending a failed expedition there in the 12th century. Amr ibn al-A'as wrote back to the Caliph: As ordered by the Caliph, he left Alexandria and established a new capital, Fustat. Butler, Alfred J; the Arab Conquest of Egypt and the Last Thirty years of Roman Dominion Oxford, 1978. Charles, Robert H.. The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu: Translated from Zotenberg's Ethiopic Text. Merchantville, NJ: Evolution Publishing. Ostrogorsky, George. History of the Byzantine State. Oxford: Basil Blackwell
Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire, of the Byzantine Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire, until falling to the Ottoman Empire. It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, dedicated on 11 May 330; the city was located in what is now the core of modern Istanbul. From the mid-5th century to the early 13th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe; the city was famed for its architectural masterpieces, such as the Greek Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia, which served as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the sacred Imperial Palace where the Emperors lived, the Galata Tower, the Hippodrome, the Golden Gate of the Land Walls, the opulent aristocratic palaces lining the arcaded avenues and squares. The University of Constantinople was founded in the fifth century and contained numerous artistic and literary treasures before it was sacked in 1204 and 1453, including its vast Imperial Library which contained the remnants of the Library of Alexandria and had over 100,000 volumes of ancient texts.
It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times as the home of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and as the guardian of Christendom's holiest relics such as the Crown of Thorns and the True Cross. Constantinople was famed for its complex defences; the first wall of the city was erected by Constantine I, surrounded the city on both land and sea fronts. In the 5th century, the Praetorian Prefect Anthemius under the child emperor Theodosius II undertook the construction of the Theodosian Walls, which consisted of a double wall lying about 2 kilometres to the west of the first wall and a moat with palisades in front; this formidable complex of defences was one of the most sophisticated of Antiquity. The city was built intentionally to rival Rome, it was claimed that several elevations within its walls matched the'seven hills' of Rome; because it was located between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara the land area that needed defensive walls was reduced, this helped it to present an impregnable fortress enclosing magnificent palaces and towers, the result of the prosperity it achieved from being the gateway between two continents and two seas.
Although besieged on numerous occasions by various armies, the defences of Constantinople proved impregnable for nearly nine hundred years. In 1204, the armies of the Fourth Crusade took and devastated the city, its inhabitants lived several decades under Latin misrule. In 1261 the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos liberated the city, after the restoration under the Palaiologos dynasty, enjoyed a partial recovery. With the advent of the Ottoman Empire in 1299, the Byzantine Empire began to lose territories and the city began to lose population. By the early 15th century, the Byzantine Empire was reduced to just Constantinople and its environs, along with Morea in Greece, making it an enclave inside the Ottoman Empire. According to Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, the first known name of a settlement on the site of Constantinople was Lygos, a settlement of Thracian origin founded between the 13th and 11th centuries BC; the site, according to the founding myth of the city, was abandoned by the time Greek settlers from the city-state of Megara founded Byzantium in around 657 BC, across from the town of Chalcedon on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus.
The origins of the name of Byzantion, more known by the Latin Byzantium, are not clear, though some suggest it is of Thraco-Illyrian origin. The founding myth of the city has it told that the settlement was named after the leader of the Megarian colonists, Byzas; the Byzantines of Constantinople themselves would maintain that the city was named in honour of two men and Antes, though this was more just a play on the word Byzantion. The city was renamed Augusta Antonina in the early 3rd century AD by the Emperor Septimius Severus, who razed the city to the ground in 196 for supporting a rival contender in the civil war and had it rebuilt in honour of his son Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, popularly known as Caracalla; the name appears to have been forgotten and abandoned, the city reverted to Byzantium/Byzantion after either the assassination of Caracalla in 217 or, at the latest, the fall of the Severan dynasty in 235. Byzantium took on the name of Kōnstantinoupolis after its refoundation under Roman emperor Constantine I, who transferred the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium in 330 and designated his new capital as Nova Roma'New Rome'.
During this time, the city was called'Second Rome','Eastern Rome', Roma Constantinopolitana. As the city became the sole remaining capital of the Roman Empire after the fall of the West, its wealth and influence grew, the city came to have a multitude of nicknames; as the largest and wealthiest city in Europe during the 4th–13th centuries and a centre of culture and education of the Mediterranean basin, Constantinople came to be known by prestigious titles such as Basileuousa and Megalopol
The Byzantine Empire referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm. Several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empire's Greek East and Latin West diverged. Constantine I reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital, legalised Christianity. Under Theodosius I, Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and other religious practices were proscribed.
Under the reign of Heraclius, the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use in place of Latin. Thus, although the Roman state continued and its traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centred on Constantinople, oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, characterised by Eastern Orthodox Christianity; the borders of the empire evolved over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I, the empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the Roman western Mediterranean coast, including North Africa and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries; the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 exhausted the empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Early Muslim conquests of the 7th century, when it lost its richest provinces and Syria, to the Arab caliphate. During the Macedonian dynasty, the empire expanded again and experienced the two-century long Macedonian Renaissance, which came to an end with the loss of much of Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
This battle opened the way for the Turks to settle in Anatolia. The empire recovered during the Komnenian restoration, by the 12th century Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest European city. However, it was delivered a mortal blow during the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked in 1204 and the territories that the empire governed were divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople in 1261, the Byzantine Empire remained only one of several small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence, its remaining territories were progressively annexed by the Ottomans over the 15th century. The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 ended the Byzantine Empire; the last of the imperial Byzantine successor states, the Empire of Trebizond, would be conquered by the Ottomans eight years in the 1461 Siege of Trebizond. The first use of the term "Byzantine" to label the years of the Roman Empire was in 1557, when the German historian Hieronymus Wolf published his work Corpus Historiæ Byzantinæ, a collection of historical sources.
The term comes from "Byzantium", the name of the city of Constantinople before it became Constantine's capital. This older name of the city would be used from this point onward except in historical or poetic contexts; the publication in 1648 of the Byzantine du Louvre, in 1680 of Du Cange's Historia Byzantina further popularised the use of "Byzantine" among French authors, such as Montesquieu. However, it was not until the mid-19th century that the term came into general use in the Western world; the Byzantine Empire was known to its inhabitants as the "Roman Empire", the "Empire of the Romans", "Romania", the "Roman Republic", as "Rhōmais". The inhabitants called themselves Romaioi and as late as the 19th century Greeks referred to Modern Greek as Romaiika "Romaic." After 1204 when the Byzantine Empire was confined to its purely Greek provinces the term'Hellenes' was used instead. While the Byzantine Empire had a multi-ethnic character during most of its history and preserved Romano-Hellenistic traditions, it became identified by its western and northern contemporaries with its predominant Greek element.
The occasional use of the term "Empire of the Greeks" in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire and of the Byzantine Emperor as Imperator Graecorum were used to separate it from the prestige of the Roman Empire within the new kingdoms of the West. No such distinction existed in the Islamic and Slavic worlds, where the Empire was more straightforwardly seen as the continuation of the Roman Empire. In the Islamic world, the Roman Empire was known as Rûm; the name millet-i Rûm, or "Roman nation," was used by the Ottomans through the 20th century to refer to the former subjects of the Byzantine Empire
Siege of Constantinople (674–678)
The First Arab Siege of Constantinople in 674–678 was a major conflict of the Arab–Byzantine wars, the first culmination of the Umayyad Caliphate's expansionist strategy towards the Byzantine Empire, led by Caliph Mu'awiya I. Mu'awiya, who had emerged in 661 as the ruler of the Muslim Arab empire following a civil war, renewed aggressive warfare against Byzantium after a lapse of some years and hoped to deliver a lethal blow by capturing the Byzantine capital, Constantinople; as reported by the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes the Confessor, the Arab attack was methodical: in 672–673 Arab fleets secured bases along the coasts of Asia Minor, proceeded to install a loose blockade around Constantinople. They used the peninsula of Cyzicus near the city as a base to spend the winter, returned every spring to launch attacks against the city's fortifications; the Byzantines, under Emperor Constantine IV, managed to destroy the Arab navy using a new invention, the liquid incendiary substance known as Greek fire.
The Byzantines defeated the Arab land army in Asia Minor, forcing them to lift the siege. The Byzantine victory was of major importance for the survival of the Byzantine state, as the Arab threat receded for a time. A peace treaty was signed soon after, following the outbreak of another Muslim civil war, the Byzantines experienced a period of ascendancy over the Caliphate; the siege left several traces in the legends of the nascent Muslim world, although it is conflated with accounts of another expedition against the city a few years led by the future Caliph Yazid I. As a result, the veracity of Theophanes's account was questioned in 2010 by Oxford scholar James Howard-Johnston, who placed more emphasis on the Arabic and Syriac sources. On the other hand, echoes of a large siege of Constantinople and a subsequent peace treaty reached China, where they were recorded in histories of the Tang dynasty. Following the disastrous Battle of Yarmouk in 636, the Byzantine Empire withdrew the bulk of its remaining forces from the Levant into Asia Minor, shielded from the Muslim expansion by the Taurus Mountains.
This left the field open for the warriors of the nascent Rashidun Caliphate to complete their conquest of Syria, with Egypt too falling shortly after. Muslim raids against the Cilician frontier zone and deep into Asia Minor began as early as 640, continued under Mu'awiya governor of the Levant. Mu'awiya spearheaded the development of a Muslim navy, which within a few years grew sufficiently strong to occupy Cyprus and raid as far as Kos and Crete in the Aegean Sea; the young Muslim navy scored a crushing victory over its Byzantine counterpart in the Battle of Phoenix in 655. Following the murder of Caliph Uthman and the outbreak of the First Muslim Civil War, Arab attacks against Byzantium stopped. In 659, Mu'awiya concluded a truce with Byzantium, including payment of tribute to the Empire; the peace lasted until the end of the Muslim civil war in 661, from which Mu'awiya and his clan emerged victorious, establishing the Umayyad Caliphate. From the next year, Muslim attacks recommenced, with pressure mounting as Muslim armies began wintering on Byzantine soil west of the Taurus range, maximizing the disruption caused to the Byzantine economy.
These land expeditions were sometimes coupled with naval raids against the coasts of southern Asia Minor. In 668, the Arabs sent aid to Saborios, strategos of the Armeniac Theme, who had rebelled and proclaimed himself emperor; the Arab troops under Fadhala ibn'Ubayd arrived too late to assist Saborios, who had died after falling from his horse, they spent the winter in the Hexapolis around Melitene awaiting reinforcements. In spring 669, after receiving additional troops, Fadhala entered Asia Minor and advanced as far as Chalcedon, on the Asian shore of the Bosporus across from the Byzantine capital, Constantinople; the Arab attacks on Chalcedon were repelled, the Arab army was decimated by famine and disease. Mu'awiya dispatched another army, led by his son Yazid, to Fadhala's aid. Accounts of what followed differ; the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes the Confessor reports that the Arabs remained before Chalcedon for a while before returning to Syria, that on their way they captured and garrisoned Amorium.
This was the first time the Arabs tried to hold a captured fortress in the interior of Asia Minor beyond the campaigning season, meant that the Arabs intended to return next year and use the town as their base, but Amorium was retaken by the Byzantines during the subsequent winter. Arab sources on the other hand report that the Muslims crossed over into Europe and launched an unsuccessful attack on Constantinople itself, before returning to Syria. Given the lack of any mention of such an assault in Byzantine sources, it is most probable that the Arab chroniclers—taking account of Yazid's presence and the fact that Chalcedon is a suburb of Constantinople—"upgraded" the attack on Chalcedon to an attack on the Byzantine capital itself; the campaign of 669 demonstrated to the Arabs the possibility of a direct strike at Constantinople, as well as the necessity of having a supply base in the region. This was found in the peninsula of Cyzicus on the southern shore of the Sea of Marmara, where a raiding fleet under Fadhala ibn'Ubayd wintered in 670 or 671.
Mu'awiya now began preparing his final assault on the Byzantine capital. In contrast to Yazid's expedition, Mu'awiya intended to take a coastal route to Constantinople; the undertaking followed a careful, phased approach: first the Muslims had to secure strongpoints and bases along the coast, with Cyzicus as a base, Constantinople would be blockaded by land and sea and cut off from the agrarian hinterland that supplied its food. Accordingly
Egypt the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, across the Mediterranean lie Greece and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt. Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest. Egypt's long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Roman, Ottoman Turkish, Nubian.
Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity, but was Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority. From the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century, Egypt was ruled by foreign imperial powers: The Ottoman Empire and the British Empire. Modern Egypt dates back to 1922, when it gained nominal independence from the British Empire as a monarchy. However, British military occupation of Egypt continued, many Egyptians believed that the monarchy was an instrument of British colonialism. Following the 1952 revolution, Egypt expelled British soldiers and bureaucrats and ended British occupation, nationalized the British-held Suez Canal, exiled King Farouk and his family, declared itself a republic. In 1958 it merged with Syria to form the United Arab Republic, which dissolved in 1961. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Egypt endured social and religious strife and political instability, fighting several armed conflicts with Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, occupying the Gaza Strip intermittently until 1967.
In 1978, Egypt signed the Camp David Accords withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and recognising Israel. The country continues to face challenges, from political unrest, including the recent 2011 revolution and its aftermath, to terrorism and economic underdevelopment. Egypt's current government is a presidential republic headed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, described by a number of watchdogs as authoritarian. Islam is the official religion of Egypt and Arabic is its official language. With over 95 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa, the Middle East, the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa, the fifteenth-most populous in the world; the great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres, where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt's territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo and other major cities in the Nile Delta.
The sovereign state of Egypt is a transcontinental country considered to be a regional power in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world, a middle power worldwide. Egypt's economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, is projected to become one of the largest in the world in the 21st century. In 2016, Egypt became Africa's second largest economy. Egypt is a founding member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, Arab League, African Union, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. "Miṣr" is the Classical Quranic Arabic and modern official name of Egypt, while "Maṣr" is the local pronunciation in Egyptian Arabic. The name is of Semitic origin, directly cognate with other Semitic words for Egypt such as the Hebrew "מִצְרַיִם"; the oldest attestation of this name for Egypt is the Akkadian "mi-iṣ-ru" related to miṣru/miṣirru/miṣaru, meaning "border" or "frontier". There is evidence of rock carvings in desert oases. In the 10th millennium BCE, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers was replaced by a grain-grinding culture.
Climate changes or overgrazing around 8000 BCE began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralised society. By about 6000 BCE, a Neolithic culture rooted in the Nile Valley. During the Neolithic era, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt; the Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are regarded as precursors to dynastic Egypt. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining culturally distinct, but maintaining frequent contact through trade; the earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BCE. A unified kingdom was founded c. 3150 BCE
Muslim conquest of Egypt
Before the Muslim conquest of Egypt. Egypt had been conquered just a decade before by the Persian Sassanid Empire under Khosrau II; the Rashidun Caliphate took advantage of the exhaustion of the Byzantine army and captured Egypt ten years after its reconquest by Heraclius. Before the Muslim conquest of Egypt had begun, Byzantium had lost the Levant and its Ghassanid allies in Arabia to the Caliphate; the loss of the prosperous province of Egypt and the defeat of the Byzantine armies weakened the empire, allowing for further territorial losses in the centuries to come. In December 639, ` Amr ibn al - `. Most of the soldiers belonged to the Arab tribe of'Ak, although Al-Kindi mentions that one-third of the soldiers belonged to the Arab tribe of Ghafik; the Arab soldiers were joined by some Roman and Persian converts to Islam. However,'Umar, the Muslim caliph, reconsidered his orders to Amr, thinking it foolhardy to expect to conquer such a large country as Egypt with a mere 4,000 soldiers. Accordingly, he wrote.
The messenger,'Uqbah ibn'Amr, caught up with Amr at Rafah, a little short of the Egyptian frontier. Guessing what might be in the letter,'Amr ordered the army to quicken its pace. Turning to'Uqbah,'Amr said that he would receive the caliph's letter from him when the army had halted after the day's journey.'Uqbah, being unaware of the contents of the letter and marched along with the army. The army halted for the night at Shajratein, a little valley near the city of El Arish, which'Amr knew to be beyond the Egyptian border.'Amr received and read'Umar's letter and went on to consult his companions as to the course of action to be adopted. The unanimous view was that as they had received the letter on Egyptian soil, they had permission to proceed. When'Umar received the reply, he decided to watch further developments and started concentrating fresh forces at Madinah that could be dispatched to Egypt as reinforcements. On Eid al-Adha, the Muslim army marched from Shajratein to El Arish, a small town lacking a garrison.
The town put up no resistance, the citizens offered allegiance on the usual terms. The Muslim soldiers celebrated the Eid festival there. In the part of December 639 or in early January 640, the Muslim army reached Pelusium, an Eastern Roman garrison city, considered Egypt's eastern gate at the time; the Muslim siege of the town dragged on for two months. In February 640, an assault group led by a prominent field commander Huzaifah ibn Wala assaulted and captured the fort and city. Armanousa, the daughter of Cyrus who fiercely resisted the Muslims in Pelusium and fell hostage in their hands, was sent to her father in the Babylon Fortress; the losses incurred by the Arab Muslim army were ameliorated by the number of Sinai Bedouins who, taking the initiative, had joined them in conquering Egypt. These Bedouins belonged to the tribes of Lakhm; the ease with which Pelusium fell to the Muslim Arabs, the lack of Byzantine reinforcements to aid the city during the month-long siege, is attributed to the treachery of the Egyptian governor, the Monothelite/Monophysite Patriarch of Alexandria.
After the fall of Pelusium, the Muslims marched to Belbeis, 65 kilometres from Memphis via desert roads and besieged it. Belbeis was the first place in Egypt where the Byzantines showed some measure of resistance towards the Arab conquerors. Two Christian monks accompanied by Cyrus of Alexandria and the famous Roman general Aretion came out to negotiate with'Amr ibn al-'As. Aretion was the Byzantine governor of Jerusalem, had fled to Egypt when the city fell to the Muslims.'Amr gave them three options: to either convert to Islam, to pay Jizya, or to fight the Muslims. They requested three days to reflect --. At the end of the five days, the two monks and the general decided to reject Islam and Jizya and fight the Muslims, they thus disobeyed Cyrus of Alexandria, who wanted to surrender and pay Jizya. Cyrus subsequently left for the Babylon Fortress, while the two monks and Aretion decided to fight the Arabs; the fight resulted in the victory of the latter and the death of Aretion.'Amr ibn al-'As subsequently attempted to convince the native Egyptians to aid the Arabs and surrender the city, based on the kinship between Egyptians and Arabs via Hagar.
When the Egyptians refused, the siege of Belbeis was continued. Towards the end of March 640, the city surrendered to the Muslims. With the fall of Belbeis, the Arabs were only one day away from the head of the Delta. Amr had visualized; this expectation turned out to be wrong. At the outposts of Pelusium and Belbeis, the Muslims had met stiff resistance; the siege of Pelusium had lasted for that of Belbeis for one month. Both battles were preludes to the siege of Babylon, a larger and more important city. Here, resistance on a larger scale was expected. After the fall of Belbeis, the Muslims advanced near modern Cairo; the Muslims arrived at Babylon some time in May 640 AD. Babylon was a fortified city, the Romans had prepared it for a siege. Outside the city, a ditch had been dug, a large force was positioned in the area between the ditch and the city walls; the Muslims besieged the fort of Babylon some time in May 640. The fort was a massive structure 18 metres high with walls more than 2 metres thick and studded with numerous tower