Derbent's location has been key to controlling the north–south invasion and trade route along the W Caspian since the 1st millenium BC A strategic fortress at the Iron Gates was established by the Persians in the late 5th or early 6th cent. AD, and remains of the Caucasian Wall (also called Alexander's Wall), built by the Persians in the 6th cent. as a bulwark against northern invaders, survive. The Arabs, who took Derbent in 728, made it a commercial and cultural center. Passing (1220) to the Mongols and later recovered by Persia, Derbent was briefly held (1722) by Peter I of Russia and was annexed to Russia in 1806. Ancient caravansaries and baths and a mosque (8th cent., rebuilt or renovated 14th and 17th cent.) have been preserved.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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