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Jerusalem Archaeological Park
The Abbasid Period (750-940 CE)

In the summer of 750 CE, after the Umayyad dynasty had been toppled, a new dynasty came to rule - that of the Abbasids. Their first leader, Muhammad Ibn Ali, was a descendant of Abas, the prophet's uncle. The Abbasids established their Capital in Baghdad, Iraq. During this period, the Persians played an important role militarily, thus replacing the Arabs. The Abbasid ruler was no longer the leader of the Arab tribes only, but the ruler and religious leader of all his citizens, of every race in his empire.
It seems that the Abbasids and the Shi`ites, in their alliance against the Umayyads, regarded the capture of Jerusalem as the ultimate prize. This aspiration is probably referred to in a hadith attributed to Muhammad himself: Black banners [the Abbasid color] will advance out of Khurasan [the major site of opposition against the Umayyads], and nothing will stop them until they are raised in Iliya [Jerusalem]. Several of the Abbasid caliphs are known to have spent time in Jerusalem on their way to or from Mecca. When, in the summer of 758 CE the caliph Mansur visited the holy city, he ordered the destruction of the crosses on the churches and forbade the Christians to hold services at night. The Abbasid attitude toward Jerusalem changed in the days of caliph Harun al-Rashid(786-809 CE), who had close relations with Charlemagne, king of the Franks. During this period Charlemagne built many structures in the city, including monasteries, a hostel, a library and a marketplace; he also purchased land around the city.
Another Abbasid caliph who seems to have visited Jerusalem is Ma`mun (813-833 CE). During his visit, his brother, Abu Ishaq (subsequently caliph Mu`tasim), the governor of Egypt, had the inscription in the Dome of the Rock'corrected' by inserting his own name in place of that of its true builder `Abd al-Malik.

In the year 878 Ahmad Ibn Tulun annexed Palestine to Egypt, thus detaching it from the center of Abbasid rule in Baghdad. Ibn Tulun and his successors held their unstable and uneasy rule over Palestine till 905 CE, when the Abbasid caliphs renewed their connections with Jerusalem (905-940 CE). This is evident in several inscriptions, especially those commemorating the dedication of buildings in the city.

The areas south and southwest of the Temple Mount were curiously neglected under the Abbasids. Excavations uncovered scant remains constructed atop the remains of the huge Umayyad 'palaces'. These finds attest to the poor state of this area following the glory of the Umayyads.

For a list of the Abbasid caliphs click here
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