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Few places are as ancient and diverse as Aleppo, one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities in the world. Ruled successively by the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Ottomans and, in the C2oth, falling for a period under French control, it has recently borne the price of nationalism and fundamentalism. It became the third largest city in the Ottoman empire, after Constantinople and Cairo, and owed its wealth to its position at a crossroads at the western end of the Silk Roads, where merchants from Venice, Isfahan and Agra congregated in the largest suq in the Middle East.  Aleppo once shone as one of the brightest stars in the civilization of the Levant, and Mansel has written an elegant account of it, and of its contemporary tragedy, and has kindly agreed to come to Sandoe’s to talk to us about it.