Axis of the Middle Sea
This chapter explores the history and culture of Tunis, which prospered in the ninth century from trade, slavery, naval-merchant exchange, and raiding. Located on the western coast of Italy, the opportunity of the sea made a protected and strategic port city such as Tunis capable of thriving. Although it never became a city at the level of Rome or Cairo, Tunis was often close to this status. It had been on the verge of empire at its height, a stopover point for ideas and movements far more extensive than its immediate surroundings. Tunis at one point would be recognized in Mecca and Madina as the capital of the Caliph — leader of the Islamic world. It eventually became a significant center of learning, trade, and commerce that not only raided but also rivaled European cities well into the medieval period.
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