River Runs Black

January 29 1258 – 23 Shevat 5018


Hulago Kahn’s Mongolian army laid siege to Baghdad, capital of the Abbasid empire. Over 150,000 soldiers took part in the siege, which lasted two weeks after Khalif el-Mustaessem Ballah refused to surrender. Spies evidently had a hand in the city’s fall, in which hundreds of thousands were massacred and the town was razed. Among the sites pillaged was the library – Beit al-Hikmeh – the house of wisdom. All its books were thrown into the waters of the Tigris River, which ran black with the ink dissolving in its waters. The Mongols headed south to Egypt, but were defeated en route at the battle of Ayn Jaluth (Ein Harod) in the Valley of Harod in northern Israel, and failed to conquer the Holy Land.