Artifacts and graves in the area show that Irbid has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. Pieces of pottery and wall stones found at Tell Irbid were estimated to be made in the year 3200 B.C. In the Hellenistic period, Irbid, then known as Arabella was a major trade center. Before the advent of Islam, Arabella was famous for producing some of the bestwines in the ancient world. The area in the region had extremely fertile soil and moderate climate, allowing the growing of high quality grapes.
After the Muslim conquests, it came under the rule of the Muslim Empire, the city became known as Irbid, and shifted from wine to olive oil production. Wheat was also an important product in the area.
Irbid is notable for being close to the site of the decisive Battle of Yarmouk, fought along the banks of the Yarmouk River roughly 30 kilometres north of the city. The battle was waged between the Islamic Caliphate led by Umar and the Byzantine Empire. It set the stage for the departure of Byzantine armies fromGreater Syria and the beginning of the expansion of the Islamic Caliphate.
Irbid today combines the bustle of a provincial Middle Eastern town and the youthful nightlife of a typical college town. University Street, which defines the western border of the Yarmouk University campus, is popular with locals as well as with the occasional foreign visitors who stop to relax in any of its numerous restaurants and cafés.
Though not usually a major tourist destination itself, Irbid is home to two notable museums: the Museum of Jordanian Heritage and the Jordan Natural History Museum, both on the campus of Yarmouk University. Furthermore, Irbid's strategic location in northern Jordan makes it a convenient starting point for tourists interested in seeing the northern Jordan Valley; visiting Umm Qais, Beit Ras (Capitolias), Pella, Ajloun, Umm el-Jimal, and other historical sites; or traveling on to Syria