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City (pop., 2004: 1,614,500), capital of Syria. Located at an oasis at the base of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, it has been an important population centre since antiquity. Believed to be among the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities, it has evidence of occupation from the 4th millennium BCE. The first written reference to it is found in Egyptian tablets of the 15th century BCE; biblical sources refer to it as the capital of the Aramaeans, and some Arabic sources have linked it with the Iram dhat al-'imad, mentioned in the Qur'an. The city changed hands repeatedly over the centuries, belonging to Assyria in the 8th century BCE, then Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. It remained under the control of Rome and its successor state, the Byzantine Empire, until it fell to the Arabs in CE 635. Damascus flourished as the capital of the Umayyad dynasty, and the remains of their Great Mosque still stand. Taken by the Ottoman Empire in 1516, it remained under Ottoman rule until 1918; it was occupied by France in 1920 and became part of independent Syria in 1946. Today the city is a flourishing metropolis with many educational and scientific institutions. The old city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
Variants of DAMASCUS
Damascus Arabic Dimashq
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Damascus, visit Britannica.com.