Thursday, July 30, 2009


Today, 30 July, is the anniversary of the founding of the city of Baghdad. Wikipedia tells us that

"On 30 July 762 the caliph Abu Ja'far Al-Mansur founded the city of Baghdad.......The framework of the city itself is two large semicircles about twelve miles (19 km) in diameter. July was chosen as the starting time because two astronomers, Naubaknt and Mashallah, believed that the city should be built under the sign of the lion, Leo. Leo is significant because he is the element of fire and symbolises productivity, proudness, and expansion. "

I like this story, but wonder whether, in 762, the Sun would have been in Leo (as we know it today). Precession of the equinoxes puts 30 July in Leo now, but in 762, I think this day would have fallen in Cancer, from the point of view of astronomers who go by constellation rather than modern astrological signs. I could be wrong here. Maybe someone better informed will comment on it.

Baghdad, originally known as "The Round City."
From the musical Kismet:

Baghdad! Don't underestimate Baghdad!
A city rich in romantic oriental lore

Baghdad! You must investigate Baghdad!
And learn a few of the facts you never knew before

Due south of the Garden of Eden
Due north of the Gulf of Aden
Where every male and maiden
Is laden down...with the blisses of
Baghdad, this irresistable town

(Illustrations by Edmund Dulac).

Once upon a time Baghdad, and Arabia in general, were famed for magical myth and legend: Scheherazade, The 1001 Nights, Aladdin (Ala'ad-Din), Sinbad (Sindibad al-Bahn), magic carpets, genies..... What happened to the magic? It would be so good if Baghdad could, today, look forward to "Many Happy Returns" to its former (Leo?) glories.


Wisewebwoman said...

I still can't fathom the level of depravity that would attack and raze this ancient and beautiful city.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Agreed. I feel sad for the loss, and for the way a once famed city of antiquity is now viewed by so many.

R J Adams said...

I'm afraid all Baghdad can look forward to is McDonalds and Wal-Mart.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~~ Hi there RJ!
I guess that's correct - in common with most other cities throughout the world. But as long as its citizens can go about their business in peace and without fear, begin to re-build some of the more traditional aspects of the culture, it'll be a big step forward.