The Babylonian Empire

Let us see about The Babylonian Empire. ON THE EUPHRATES RIVER, 4,000 years ago, an ancient settlement became the most magnificent city in the Near East. This city was Babylon and when Hammurabi conquered Mesopotamia, he established his capital there. Over centuries, Babylonian fortunes rose and fell as the city was invaded by the Hittites, Kassites and Assyrians. The Assyrians destroyed Babylon in 689 BC. In 612 BC, the Babylonians retaliated by conquering the Assyrians and again making their city the world's greatest. Babylonia's splendor continued after the Persian Empire absorbed it in 539 BC.

The First Babylonian Empire:

By about 1770 BC, Hammurabi had conqueted most of Mesopotamia. Babylon was established as the capital of the south for the duration of the Babylonian Empire.

Kassites :

Between 1600 and 1190 BC, people called the Kassites ruled Babylonia. They are best known for theit boundary stones (kuddurus) which marked property divisions and recorded gifts of land. These wete ofren decotated with divine symbols. After the end of Kassite rule, Babylonia fell into a long period of chaos.

Persian Empire :

In 539 BC, the Persian King Cyrus II took over the Babylonian kingdom and made Mesopotamia part of his empire. His son Cambyses was usurped by Darius I, also called "The Great", under whom the empire reached its greatest extent.

King Hammurabi :

Mesopotamia's wisest King Hammurabi (r.1792 - 1750 BC) followed ancienr tradition by issuing laws to protect his subjects. Using cuneiform script, he had 282 laws carved on a black stone pillar. The empire he founded collapsed in 1595 BC when Hittites from Anatolia looted it. The Kassites from the mountains to the east of Babylon then invaded and took over.

Literature and Art :

The Babylonian Empire was world-famous for its great artistic and literary achievements. Literature such as the legendary epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian hero, was written on clay tablets in cuneiform. Artistic splendours included terracotta plaques, superb sculpture and glassware and, above all, the lavish and decorative entrance to the city - the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way.

The Ishtar Gate :

The Ishtar Gate was one of Nebuchadnezzar's most spectacular structures and was made from clay bricks which were moulded and brilliantly glazed with colour.

Science :

Babylonia was famous as the home of scientists and scholars. Babylonian astrologers studied the movements of planets and stars, recorded their findings on clay tablets and used these to predict the future. Many texts are so detailed that modern astronomers can date ancient events from them. Ancient Greeks and Romans used the Babylonian system for naming planets.

Religion :

The Babylonians inherited their religion from the Sumerians. They believed that gods and spirits controlled every aspect of the world. These included Anu, the sky god who gave birth to some of the most important deities, including Ishtat, goddess of love and war (represented by the planet Venus) and Ea, god of wisdom and fresh water. Ea was the father of Marduk, the god of Babylon who created the world and made humans by mixing earth with divine blood.

Nebuchadnezzar :

After the Babylonian king Nabopolasser defeated the Assyrian enemy, his son Nebuchadnezzar (t.605-562 BC) rebuilt the devastated Babylon on a grand scale. His works included the fabulous Ishtar Gate and a temple and ziggurat towet. According to Greek tradition, he also built the Hanging Gardens for his homesick wife and these became one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In 596 BC, Nebuchadnezzar attacked the kingdom of Judah. Ten years later he returned, sacked Jerusalem and took the Jews into exile in Babylon. They were not released until the reign of Cyrus II.

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