Aleppo is one of the longest-surviving cities of the ancient and Islamic Middle East. Until recently it enjoyed a thriving urban life-in particular an active traditional suq, whose origins can be traced across many centuries. Its tangle of streets still follow the Hellenistic grid and above it looms the great Citadel, which contains recently-uncovered remains of a Bronze/Iron Age temple complex, suggesting an even earlier role as a 'high place' in the Canaanite tradition. In the Arab Middle Ages, Aleppo was a strongpoint of the Islamic resistance to the Crusader presence. Its medieval Citadel is one of the most dramatic examples of a fortified enclosure in the Islamic tradition. In Mamluk and Ottoman times, the city took on a thriving commercial role and provided a base for the first European commercial factories and consulates in the Levant. Its commercial life funded a remarkable building tradition with some hundreds of the 600 or so officially-declared monuments dating from these eras, and its diverse ethnic mixture, with significant Kurdish, Turkish, Christian and Armenian communities provide a richer layering of influences on the city's life. In this volume, Ross Burns explores the rich history of this important city, from its earliest history through to the modern era, providing a thorough treatment of this fascinating city history, accessible both to scholarly readers as well as to the general public interested in a factual and comprehensive survey of the city's past.
Ross Burns worked in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs for 37 years until his retirement in 2003, with roles including Ambassador to Syria and Lebanon (based in Damascus) from 1984 to 1987, as Minister in Paris (and Ambassador to UNESCO) and as Ambassador in South Africa (1992-95), Athens (1998-2001) and Tel Aviv (2001-2003). After his retirement, he completed a Ph D at Macquarie University in Sydney on 'The Origins of the Colonnaded Axes of the Cities of the Near East Under Rome'. He is the author of Damascus (Routledge, 2004) and Monuments of Syria (3rd edition, 2009).