In two weeks of blood and fire, one of the greatest intellectual and cultural legacies the world had ever seen came to an end. Crushed under the hooves of a mighty foe (in one case literally), a dynasty, an empire, a city, and a library all disappeared. It was perhaps the swiftest and most complete collapse of a civilization ever, still felt to this day. Now, how about for some context? [more inside]
Around A.D. 800, the storied Caliph Haroun Al-Raschid sent a diplomatic delegation some two thousand miles from Baghdad to Aachen, the seat of Charlemagne's empire. Among the many gifts for the Frankish ruler that accompanied the delegation was Abul-Abbas, the first recorded elephant north of the Alps.