Mosul traces its history to the 25th century B.C., and for 13 centuries it was ruled by Assyrians, becoming at one time an even grander city than Babylon.
Then known as Nineveh, and located 30 kilometers north of modern Mosul, it was a key city in Mesopotamia, a cradle of civilization that is credited with such profound developments as the invention of the wheel, the first planting of cereal crops and the first use of cursive script. The origins of modern medicine and mathematics can be traced to the city. Early Sumerian inhabitants were among the first to pose existential questions such as: Who are we? Where are we? How did we get here? These helped to shape ancient Greek philosophy and, subsequently, our modern world.
But the Pearl of the North, like the whole of Mesopotamia, has also seen more than its share of devastating wars that pitted tribes, races, religions, countries and empires against each other in terrible cycles of conflict, revenge and retaliation. The word Mosul means "linking point" and, sitting astride a route linking northern Mesopotamia with Anatolia, it has lured conquering armies.