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Some African cities developed in the context of interregional trade, others were politically dominant in their regions, and still others were clustered cities, showing little political or economic hierarchy. African urbanism encompasses many kinds of cities and many kinds of power. Over the marshes, winding streams, and rice fields of Mali's Middle Niger floodplain rises a tell that would not be out of place in Mesopotamia. Jenne-jeno's descendant town, Jenne, lies 3 kilometers away; there its present-day inhabitants walk about on 9 meters of ancient city deposits. Recent research reveals cities even earlier than Jenne-jeno and especially a 'pre-urban' landscape that was potentially several millennia in the making. The understanding of the evolution and nature of east African cities has similarly changed greatly in light of new archaeological field work. Early African cities and the distribution of power in them were neither cut to a normative pattern, nor did they develop from any single cause.
Baghdad was the city that medieval Arabic geographers put in the center of the world. The history of Baghdad is divided into three phases, first, the prestigious capital of the Abbasid Caliphs from the time of its foundation in 762 by al-Mansûr up to its conquest by Mongol armies in 1258; then, for centuries, a simple provincial metropolis, and finally, since 1921, the capital of Iraq, whose dramatic present assails us with images of devastation. The Abbasid Caliphs took power in the aftermath of an important insurrection that overthrew the former Umayyad dynasty over the years 746-50. The palatial city founded by al-Mansûr has often been called the Round City because of its circular form. Ya‘qûbî affirms that it was the only round city known in the whole world. The city founded by al-Mansûr was transformed quickly as the result of the displacement and multiplication of the Caliph's places of residence.
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