MOSUL, a town of Mesopotamia, capital of a Turkish vilayet and sanjak of the same name, on the right bank of the Tigris, in 36 35' N., 43 3' E. Pop. 40,000 (Moslems 31,500, Christians 7000, Jews 1500). In Mosul, as in Bagdad, only part of the space within the walls is covered with buildings and the rest is occupied by cemeteries; even the solid limestone walls of the ancient town are half in ruins, being serviceable only in the direction of the river, where they check inundations. Of the town gates at present in use, five are on the south, two on the west, two on the north, and the great bridge gate on the east. Leaving Mosul by the last named, the traveller first crosses a stone bridge, 157 ft. long; then a kind of island (140 ft.), which is overflowed only in spring and summer by the Tigris; next a stretch of the river which, at such times as it is not fordable, is spanned by a bridge of boats, the bridge proper covering only one-sixth of the full width of the stream. During the season of low water excellent vegetables, particularly water-melons, are grown upon the islands and dry portions of the river-bed.
The interior of Mosul has an insignificant appearance, only a few of the older buildings being left, among which may be mentioned the Great Mosque, with its leaning minaret, formerly a church dedicated to St Paul. The streets are for the most part badly paved and very narrow, a small square in the marketplace, overlooked by airy coffee-booths, being almost the only open space. The shops are few and poor. The industry in comparison with former times, when the town had so considerable a manufacture in muslin as to give its name to that fabric, is very unimportant; trade also, which is almost exclusively in the hands of native merchants, has fallen off greatly, although the town remains the collecting and distributing centre for the north Mesopotamian desert and Kurdistan. The exports and most of the imports pass through Bagdad. Mosul is the meetingpoint of roads from Aleppo, Diarbekr, Bitlis, north and west Persia and Bagdad; and it is on the projected line of railway from Constantinople to 'the Persian Gulf. Gall nuts, gathered on the neighbouring Kurdish mountain slopes, are mostly exported, but are also made use of by native dyers; and hides, wax, cotton and gum are sold. Christians and Moslems have lived together on better terms here than elsewhere. Both are animated by an active local patriotism, and both honour the same patron saints, Jirjis (St George) and Jonah; the grave of the latter is pointed out on an artificial mound on the left bank of the Tigris.
The language of the people of Mosul is a dialect of Arabic, partly influenced by Kurdish and Syriac. The Moslems call themselves either Arabs or Kurds, but the prevalent type, very different from the true Arabian of Bagdad, proves the Aramaean origin of many of their number. Of the Christians the community of the Chaldaeans, i.e. those who have gone over from Nestorianism to Catholicism, seems to be the most important; there are also Syrian Catholics and Jacobites. Mosul has for several centuries been a centre of Catholic missionary activity, the Dominicans especially, by the foundation of schools and printing-offices, having made a marked impression upon an intelligent and teachable population. There are very few Protestants. The town is the seat of British, French and Russian consulates.
Mosul shares the severe alternations of temperature experienced by upper Mesopotamia. The summer heat is extreme, and in winter frost is not unknown. Nevertheless the climate is considered healthy and agreeable; copious rains fall in general in winter. The drinking water is got from the muddy Tigris. At the north-east corner of the town is a sulphur spring, and 4 leagues to the south there is a hot sulphur spring (Hammam 'Ali), much frequented by invalids.
Mosul probably occupies the site of a southern suburb of ancient Nineveh (q.ii.) but it is very doubtful whether the older name of Mespila can be traced in the modern Al-Mausil (Arab., " the place of connexion ") ; it is, however, certain that a town with the Arabic name Al-Mausil stood here at the time of the Moslem conquest (636 A.D.). The town reached its greatest prosperity towards the beginning of the decline of the caliphate, when it was for a time an independent capital. The dynasty of the Hamdanids reigned in Mosul from 934, but the town was conquered by the Syrian Okailids in 990. In the 11th century it belonged to the Seljuks, and in the 12th, under the sway of the Atabegs, particularly of Zenki, it had a short period of splendour. Saladin besieged it unsuccessfully in 1182. The Persians occupied Mosul for a short time in 1623, until it was, soon afterwards, recovered by sultan Murad IV. The governorship of the pashalik was long hereditary in the originally Christian family of the 'Abd-al-Jalll, until the Porte, during the course of the 19th century, succeeded after a long and severe contest in establishing a more centralized system of government.
The VILAYET OF MOSUL lies mainly east of the Tigris. It is divided into three sanjaks, Mosul, Shehrizor and Suleimanieh, and has an area of 29,000 sq. m. Pop. 295,000 (Moslems 245,000, Yezidis 15,000, Christians 30,000 and Jews 5000).
See Karl Ritter, " Asien," vol. vii. in Die Erdkunde (Berlin, 1844). A map of the town accompanies J. Cernik's paper, " Studienexpedition durch die Gebiete des Euphrat und Tigris," in Erganzungsheft No. 45 of Petermanns Mitteilungen (Gotha, 1876); Parry, Six Months in a Syrian Monastery (1895); E. Sachau, Am Euphrat und Tigris (Berlin, 1899); Baron von Oppenheim, Vom Mitlelmeer zum Persischen Golf (Berlin, 1900).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)