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Excavations have demonstrated that Damascus has been inhabited as early as 10,000 BC. According to the New
Testament, St. Paul was on the road to Damascus when he received a vision, and converted to Christianity.
Damascus's importance as a caravan city was evident with the trade routes from southern Arabia, Palmyra,
Petra, and the silk routes from China all converging on it. Roman architects brought together the Greek and
Aramaean foundations of the city and fused them into a new layout measuring approximately 1500 by
750 meters, surrounded by a city wall. The city wall contained seven gates. The city's power and
prestige reached its peak when it became the capital of the Umayyad Empire, which extended
from Spain to India from 661 to 750
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