AUTHORS: Benjamin Knight
GENRE: FolktalesRiddles
How was a treasure stolen from a barrel of olives? (from Iraq)
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The play script, "Ali Cogia & the Merchant of Baghdad," was adapted by Benjamin Knight from a story of the same name found at further described at the end of the story. ©1998 Elaine Lindy. All rights reserved.


Under the reign of
Caliph Haroun al-Raschid (c.764-809) the city of Baghdad, already a major capital of the Muslim world, reached its intellectual and economic peak. Scholars and artists from various parts of the empire and beyond flocked to Haroun al-Raschid's court to enjoy his patronage. The caliph was the hero of the Thousand and One Nights, a series of tales which portray the fabulous life in Baghdad in the ninth century. An able general, Haroun al-Raschid greatly extended his empire. He carried on diplomatic relations with China and with Charlemagne, emperor of the Franks. Baghdad fell to the Mongols in 1258, and so thorough was the destruction wrought by them that hardly any traces remain of the city's former splendor.

See also A Turkish Judge for another story about the Caliph Haroun al-Raschid.