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''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bāvel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' * Kassite: ''Karanduniash'', ''Karduniash'' , image = Street in Babylon.jpg , image_size=250px , alt = A partial view of the ruins of Babylon , caption = A partial view of the ruins of Babylon , map_type = Near East#West Asia#Iraq , relief = yes , map_alt = Babylon lies in the center of Iraq , coordinates = , location = Hillah, Babil Governorate,
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...

Iraq
, region =
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...

Mesopotamia
, type = Settlement , part_of =
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorites, Amorite-ruled ...
, length = , width = , area = , height = , builder = , material = , built = , abandoned = , epochs = , cultures = Sumerian, Akkadian, Amorite, Kassite, Assyrian, Chaldean, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sasanian, Muslim , dependency_of = , occupants = , event = , excavations = , archaeologists = Hormuzd Rassam,
Robert Koldewey Robert Johann Koldewey (10 September 1855 – 4 February 1925) was a German archaeologist, famous for his in-depth excavation of the ancient city of Babylon in modern-day Iraq. He was born in Blankenburg am Harz in Germany, the duchy of Brunswick, ...
, Taha Baqir, recent Iraqi Assyriologist , condition = Ruined , ownership = Public , management = , website = , notes = , embedded= Babylon was the capital city of the ancient
Babylonian Empire Babylonia (; Akkadian language, Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an Ancient history, ancient Akkadian language, Akkadian-speaking state (polity), state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-d ...
, which itself is a term referring to either of two separate empires in the
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...

Mesopotamia
n area in antiquity. These two empires achieved regional dominance between the 19th and 15th centuries BC, and again between the 7th and 6th centuries BC. The city, built along both banks of the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia ( ''the land between the rivers'') ...
river, had steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. The site of the ancient city lies just south of present-day
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد , ) is the capital of Iraq and the list of largest cities in the Arab world, second-largest city in the Arab world after Cairo. It is located on the Tigris near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon and the ...
. The earliest known mention of Babylon as a small town appears on a
clay tablet In the Ancient Near East, clay tablets (Akkadian language, Akkadian ) were used as a writing medium, especially for writing in cuneiform, throughout the Bronze Age and well into the Iron Age. Cuneiform characters were imprinted on a wet clay t ...
from the reign of
Sargon of Akkad Sargon of Akkad (; akk, ''Šarrugi''), also known as Sargon the Great, was the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire, known for his conquests of the Sumerian Sumerian city-states, city-states in the 24th to 23rd centuries BC.The date of the re ...
(2334–2279 BC) of the
Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer. It was centered in the city of Akkad () and its surrounding region. The empire united Akkadian and Sumerian speakers under one rule ...
. Babylon was merely a religious and cultural centre at this point and neither an independent state nor a large city; like the rest of Mesopotamia, it was subject to the Akkadian Empire which united all the Akkadian and Sumerian speakers under one rule. After the collapse of the Akkadian Empire, the south Mesopotamian region was dominated by the
Gutian people The Guti () or Quti, also known by the derived exonyms Gutians or Guteans, were a nomadic people of West Asia, around the Zagros Mountains (Modern Iran) during ancient times. Their homeland was known as Gutium (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ,''Gu ...
for a few decades before the rise of the
Third Dynasty of Ur The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century Common Era, BC (middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians c ...
, which, apart from northern Assyria, encompassed the whole of Mesopotamia, including the town of Babylon. The town became part of a small independent
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign city which serves as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. They have existed in many parts of the world since the dawn of history, including cities such as ...
with the rise of the first Babylonian Empire, now known as the Old Babylonian Empire, in the 19th century BC. The
Amorite The Amorites (; sux, 𒈥𒌅, MAR.TU; Akkadian language, Akkadian: 𒀀𒈬𒊒𒌝 or 𒋾𒀉𒉡𒌝/𒊎 ; he, אֱמוֹרִי, 'Ĕmōrī; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were an ancient Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic-speaking people ...
king
Hammurabi Hammurabi (Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; ) was the sixth Amorites, Amorite king of the Old Babylonian Empire, reigning from to BC. He was preceded by his father, Sin-Muballit, who abdicated due to failing health. During his reign, he conque ...
founded the short-lived
Old Babylonian Empire The Old Babylonian Empire, or First Babylonian Empire, is dated to BC – BC, and comes after the end of Sumer, Sumerian power with the destruction of the Third Dynasty of Ur, and the subsequent Isin-Larsa period. The chronology of the first dy ...
in the 18th century BC. He built Babylon into a major city and declared himself its king. Southern Mesopotamia became known as
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorites, Amorite-ruled ...
, and Babylon eclipsed
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logogram, logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. Akkadian language, Akkadian: '' ...
as the region's holy city. The empire waned under Hammurabi's son
Samsu-iluna Samsu-iluna (Amorite: ''Shamshu''; c. 1750–1712 BC) was the seventh king of the founding Amorite dynasty of Babylon, ruling from 1750 BC to 1712 BC (middle chronology), or from 1686 to 1648 BC (short chronology). He was the son and successor of ...
, and Babylon spent long periods under
Assyrian Assyrian may refer to: * Assyrian people Assyrians are an Indigenous peoples, indigenous ethnic group native to Assyrian homeland, Assyria in Western Asia, West Asia. Modern Assyrians Assyrian continuity, descend from their Assyria, ancient cou ...
,
Kassite The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (Chronology_of_the_ancient_Near_East#Variant_Middle_Bronze_Age_chronologies, short chron ...
and
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Elamite cuneiform, Cuneiform Elamite: ; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; he, עֵילָם ''ʿēlām''; peo, 𐎢𐎺𐎩 ''hūja'') was an ancient civilization centered i ...
ite domination. After the Assyrians had destroyed and then rebuilt it, Babylon became the capital of the short-lived
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire, historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last polity ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with the coronation of Nabopolassar as the List of kings of Babylon, King of B ...
, a
neo-Assyrian The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the fourth and penultimate stage of ancient Assyrian history and the final and greatest phase of Assyria as an independent state. Beginning with the accession of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire grew t ...
successor state, from 609 to 539 BC. The
Hanging Gardens of Babylon The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World listed by Ancient Greece, Hellenic culture. They were described as a remarkable feat of engineering with an ascending series of tiered gardens containing a wide ...
ranked as one of the
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, also known as the Seven Wonders of the World or simply the Seven Wonders, is a list of seven notable structures present during classical antiquity. The first known list of seven wonders dates back to the 2 ...
. After the fall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the city came under the rule of the
Achaemenid The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire (; peo, wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, , ), also called the First Persian Empire, was an History of Iran#Classical antiquity, ancient Iranian empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. Bas ...
,
Seleucid The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Ancient Greece, Greek state in West Asia that existed during the Hellenistic period from 312 BC to 63 BC. The Seleucid Empire was ...
, Parthian,
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter ...
,
Sassanid The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ) and also referred to by historians as the Neo-Persian Empire, was the History of Iran, last Iranian empire before the early Muslim conquests of the 7th-8th cen ...
, and
Muslim Muslims ( ar, المسلمون, , ) are people who adhere to Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the ...
empires. The last known record of habitation of the town dates from the 10th century AD, when it was referred to as the "small village of Babel". It has been estimated that Babylon was the largest city in the world , and again . It was perhaps the first city to reach a population above 200,000.Tertius Chandler. ''Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth: An Historical Census'' (1987), St. David's University Press (). . See Historical urban community sizes. Estimates for the maximum extent of its area range from 890 to . The remains of the city are in present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate,
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...

Iraq
, about south of
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد , ) is the capital of Iraq and the list of largest cities in the Arab world, second-largest city in the Arab world after Cairo. It is located on the Tigris near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon and the ...
, and its boundaries have been based on the perimeter of the ancient outer city walls, an area of about . They comprise a large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris. The main sources of information about Babylon—excavation of the site itself, references in
cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 B ...
texts found elsewhere in Mesopotamia, references in the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
, descriptions in other classical writing (especially by
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, , }; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...
), and second-hand descriptions (citing the work of
Ctesias Ctesias (; grc-gre, Κτησίας; fl. fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, then part of the Achaemenid Empire. Historical events Ctesi ...
and
Berossus Berossus () or Berosus (; grc, Βηρωσσος, Bērōssos; possibly derived from akk, , romanized: , " Bel is his shepherd") was a Hellenistic In Classical antiquity, the Hellenistic period covers the time in History of the Mediterranea ...
)—present an incomplete and sometimes contradictory picture of the ancient city, even at its peak in the sixth century BC.
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international coope ...
inscribed Babylon as a
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNES ...
in 2019. The site receives thousands of visitors each year, almost all of whom are Iraqis. Construction is rapidly increasing, which has caused encroachments on the ruins.


Name

The spelling ''Babylon'' is the Latin representation of
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
''Babylṓn'' (), derived from the native ( Babylonian) ', meaning "gate of the god(s)". The
cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 B ...
spelling was (KA₂.DIG̃IR.RA). This would correspond to the Sumerian phrase ''kan dig̃irak''. The sign 𒆍 (KA₂) is the logogram for "gate", 𒀭 ( DIG̃IR) means "god", and 𒊏 (RA) represents the coda of the word ''dig̃ir'' (-r) followed by the genitive suffix ''-ak''. The final 𒆠 ( ) is a determinative indicating that the previous signs are to be understood as a place name.
Archibald Sayce The Rev. Archibald Henry Sayce (25 September 18454 February 1933) was a pioneer British Assyriologist and linguist Linguistics is the science, scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a com ...
, writing in the 1870s, postulated that the Semitic name was a loan-translation of the original Sumerian name. However, the "gate of god" interpretation is increasingly viewed as a Semitic
folk etymology Folk etymology (also known as popular etymology, analogical reformation, reanalysis, morphological reanalysis or etymological reinterpretation) is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more famili ...
to explain an unknown original non-Semitic placename. I. J. Gelb in 1955 argued that the original name was ''Babilla'', of unknown meaning and origin, as there were other similarly named places in
Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of ...
, and there are no other examples of Sumerian place-names being replaced with Akkadian translations. He deduced that it later transformed into Akkadian ', and that the Sumerian name ''Kan-dig̃irak'' was a loan translation of the Semitic folk etymology, and not the original name. The re-translation of the Semitic name into Sumerian would have taken place at the time of the "Neo-Sumerian"
Third Dynasty of Ur The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century Common Era, BC (middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians c ...
. (''Bab- Il''). In the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
Hebrew: ''Tān ...
, the name appears as ''Babel'' ( he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'', Tib.  ''Bāḇel''; syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāwēl'', arc, בבל Bāḇel; in ar, بَابِل ''Bābil''), interpreted in the
Book of Genesis The Book of Genesis (from Greek ; Hebrew: בְּרֵאשִׁית ''Bəreʾšīt'', "In hebeginning") is the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its Hebrew name is the same as its first word, ( "In the beginning") ...
to mean "
confusion In medicine, confusion is the quality or state of being bewildered or unclear. The term "acute mental confusion"
", from the verb ''bilbél'' (, "to confuse"). The modern English verb, ' ("to speak foolish, excited, or confusing talk"), is popularly thought to derive from this name but there is no direct connection. In
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan languages, Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the Buddhist ''Pali Canon, Pāli Canon'' or ''Tripiṭaka, Tipiṭaka'' as ...
and
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had Trans-cul ...
literature, the name appears as ''Bāveru''. Ancient records in some situations use "Babylon" as a name for other cities, including cities like
Borsippa Borsippa (Sumerian language, Sumerian: BAD.SI.(A).AB.BAKI; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''Barsip'' and ''Til-Barsip'')The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. or Birs Nimrud (having been ide ...
within Babylon's sphere of influence, and
Nineveh Nineveh (; akk, ; Biblical Hebrew: '; ar, نَيْنَوَىٰ '; syr, ܢܝܼܢܘܹܐ, Nīnwē) was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located in the modern-day city of Mosul in northern Iraq. It is located on the eastern ban ...
for a short period after the Assyrian sack of Babylon.


Geography

The ancient city, built along both banks of the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia ( ''the land between the rivers'') ...
river, had steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. The remains of the city are in present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq, about south of Baghdad, comprising a large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris. The site at Babylon consists of a number of mounds covering an area of about , oriented north to south, along the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia ( ''the land between the rivers'') ...
to the west. Originally, the river roughly bisected the city, but the course of the river has since shifted so that most of the remains of the former western part of the city are now inundated. Some portions of the city wall to the west of the river also remain. Only a small portion of the ancient city (3% of the area within the inner walls; 1.5% of the area within the outer walls; 0.1% at the depth of Middle and Old Babylon) has been excavated. Known remains include: * Kasr – also called Palace or Castle, it is the location of the
Neo-Babylonian The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire, historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last polity ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with the coronation of Nabopolassar as the List of kings of Babylon, King of B ...
ziggurat
Etemenanki Etemenanki (Sumerian language, Sumerian: "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth") was a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk in the ancient city of Babylon. It now exists only in ruins, located about south of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq. Etemenanki h ...
and lies in the center of the site. * Amran Ibn Ali – the highest of the mounds at to the south. It is the site of
Esagila The Ésagila or Esangil ( sux, , ''" temple whose top is lofty"'') was a temple dedicated to Marduk, the protector god of Babylon. It lay south of the ziggurat Etemenanki. Description In this temple was the statue of Marduk, surrounded ...
, a temple of
Marduk Marduk (Cuneiform: dAMAR.UTU; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''amar utu.k'' "calf of the sun; solar calf"; ) was a god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates vall ...
that also contained shrines to Ea and
Nabu Nabu ( akk, cuneiform: 𒀭𒀝 Nabû syr, ܢܵܒܼܘܼ\ܢܒܼܘܿ\ܢܵܒܼܘܿ Nāvū or Nvō or Nāvō) is the ancient Mesopotamian religion, ancient Mesopotamian patron god of literacy, the Science, rational arts, scribes, and wisdom. Et ...
. * Homera – a reddish-colored mound on the west side. Most of the
Hellenistic In Classical antiquity, the Hellenistic period covers the time in History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history after Classical Greece, between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as sig ...
remains are here. * Babil – a mound about high at the northern end of the site. Its bricks have been subject to looting since ancient times. It held a palace built by Nebuchadnezzar. Archaeologists have recovered few artifacts predating the Neo-Babylonian period. The water table in the region has risen greatly over the centuries, and artifacts from the time before the
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire, historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last polity ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with the coronation of Nabopolassar as the List of kings of Babylon, King of B ...
are unavailable to current standard archaeological methods. Additionally, the Neo-Babylonians conducted significant rebuilding projects in the city, which destroyed or obscured much of the earlier record. Babylon was pillaged numerous times after revolting against foreign rule, most notably by the
Hittites The Hittites () were an Anatolian peoples, Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara (before 1750 BC), then the Kültepe , Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centere ...
and Elamites in the 2nd millennium, then by the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the fourth and penultimate stage of ancient Assyrian history and the final and greatest phase of Assyria as an independent state. Beginning with the accession of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire grew t ...
and the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire (; peo, wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, , ), also called the First Persian Empire, was an History of Iran#Classical antiquity, ancient Iranian empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. Bas ...
in the 1st millennium BC. Much of the western half of the city is now beneath the river, and other parts of the site have been mined for commercial building materials. Only the Koldewey expedition recovered artifacts from the Old Babylonian period. These included 967 clay tablets, stored in private houses, with Sumerian literature and lexical documents. Nearby ancient settlements are Kish,
Borsippa Borsippa (Sumerian language, Sumerian: BAD.SI.(A).AB.BAKI; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''Barsip'' and ''Til-Barsip'')The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. or Birs Nimrud (having been ide ...
, Dilbat, and
Kutha Kutha, Cuthah, Cuth or Cutha ( ar, كُوثَا, Sumerian: Gudua), modern Tell Ibrahim ( ar, تَلّ إِبْرَاهِيم), formerly known as Kutha Rabba ( ar, كُوثَىٰ رَبَّا), is an archaeological site in Babil Governorate, Iraq. ...
.
Marad Marad (Sumerian: Marda, modern Tell Wannat es-Sadum or Tell as-Sadoum, Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. I ...
and
Sippar Sippar (Sumerian language, Sumerian: , Zimbir) was an ancient Near Eastern Sumerian and later Babylonian city on the east bank of the Euphrates river. Its ''Tell (archaeology), tell'' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near Yusufiyah ...
were in either direction along the Euphrates.


Sources

The main sources of information about Babylon—excavation of the site itself, references in
cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 B ...
texts found elsewhere in Mesopotamia, references in the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
, descriptions in other classical writing (especially by
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, , }; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...
), and second-hand descriptions (citing the work of
Ctesias Ctesias (; grc-gre, Κτησίας; fl. fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, then part of the Achaemenid Empire. Historical events Ctesi ...
and
Berossus Berossus () or Berosus (; grc, Βηρωσσος, Bērōssos; possibly derived from akk, , romanized: , " Bel is his shepherd") was a Hellenistic In Classical antiquity, the Hellenistic period covers the time in History of the Mediterranea ...
)—present an incomplete and sometimes contradictory picture of the ancient city, even at its peak in the sixth century BC. Babylon was described, perhaps even visited, by a number of classical historians including
Ctesias Ctesias (; grc-gre, Κτησίας; fl. fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, then part of the Achaemenid Empire. Historical events Ctesi ...
,
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, , }; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...
,
Quintus Curtius Rufus Quintus Curtius Rufus () was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian, probably of the 1st century, author of his only known and only surviving work, ''Historiae Alexandri Magni'', "Histories of Alexander the Great", or more fully ''Historiarum Alexandri ...
,
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus) was a term employed by the Romans for anyone whose eyes were distorted or deformed. The father of Pompey was called "Pompeius Strabo". A native of Sicily so clear-sighted that he could see ...
, and
Cleitarchus Cleitarchus or Clitarchus ( el, Κλείταρχος) was one of the historians of Alexander the Great. Son of the historian Dinon of Colophon, he spent a considerable time at the court of Ptolemy I of Egypt, Ptolemy Lagus. He was active in the m ...
. These reports are of variable accuracy and some of the content was politically motivated, but these still provide useful information. Historical knowledge of early Babylon must be pieced together from epigraphic remains found elsewhere, such as at
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka or Warkah, was an ancient city of Sumer (and later of Babylonia) situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern Samawah, Muthanna Governorate, Al ...
,
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logogram, logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. Akkadian language, Akkadian: '' ...
,
Sippar Sippar (Sumerian language, Sumerian: , Zimbir) was an ancient Near Eastern Sumerian and later Babylonian city on the east bank of the Euphrates river. Its ''Tell (archaeology), tell'' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near Yusufiyah ...
, Mari, and Haradum.


Early references

The earliest known mention of Babylon as a small town appears on a clay tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad (2334–2279 BC) of the Akkadian Empire. References to the city of Babylon can be found in Akkadian and Sumerian literature from the late third millennium BC. One of the earliest is a tablet describing the Akkadian king Šar-kali-šarri laying the foundations in Babylon of new temples for Annūnı̄tum and
Ilaba Ilaba was a Mesopotamian god. He is best attested as the tutelary deity of the kings of the Akkadian Empire, and functioned both as their personal god and as the city god of Akkad (city), Akkad. Textual sources indicate he was a warlike deity, fre ...
. Babylon also appears in the administrative records of the
Third Dynasty of Ur The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century Common Era, BC (middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians c ...
, which collected in-kind tax payments and appointed an '' ensi'' as local governor.Wilfred G. Lambert, "Babylon: Origins"; in Cancik-Kirschbaum et al. (2011), pp. 71–76. The so-called Weidner Chronicle (also known as ''ABC 19'') states that
Sargon of Akkad Sargon of Akkad (; akk, ''Šarrugi''), also known as Sargon the Great, was the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire, known for his conquests of the Sumerian Sumerian city-states, city-states in the 24th to 23rd centuries BC.The date of the re ...
( in the
short chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions and texts customarily record events in terms of a succession of officials or rulers: "in the year X of king Y". Com ...
) had built Babylon "in front of Akkad" (ABC 19:51). A later chronicle states that Sargon "dug up the dirt of the pit of Babylon, and made a counterpart of Babylon next to Akkad". (ABC 20:18–19). Van de Mieroop has suggested that those sources may refer to the much later Assyrian king
Sargon II Sargon II (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , meaning "the faithful king" or "the legitimate king") was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 722 BC to his death in battle in 705. Probably the son of Tiglath-Pileser III (745–727), Sargon is general ...
of the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the fourth and penultimate stage of ancient Assyrian history and the final and greatest phase of Assyria as an independent state. Beginning with the accession of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire grew t ...
rather than Sargon of Akkad.


Classical dating

Ctesias Ctesias (; grc-gre, Κτησίας; fl. fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, then part of the Achaemenid Empire. Historical events Ctesi ...
, quoted by
Diodorus Siculus Diodorus Siculus, or Diodorus of Sicily ( grc-gre, wikt:Διόδωρος, Διόδωρος ;  1st century BC), was an ancient Greece, ancient Greek historian. He is known for writing the monumental universal history ''Bibliotheca historica' ...
and in
George Syncellus George Syncellus ( el, Γεώργιος Σύγκελλος, ''Georgios Synkellos''; died after 810) was a Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire i ...
's ''Chronographia'', claimed to have access to manuscripts from Babylonian archives, which date the founding of Babylon to 2286 BC, under the reign of its first king, Belus. A similar figure is found in the writings of
Berossus Berossus () or Berosus (; grc, Βηρωσσος, Bērōssos; possibly derived from akk, , romanized: , " Bel is his shepherd") was a Hellenistic In Classical antiquity, the Hellenistic period covers the time in History of the Mediterranea ...
, who, according to Pliny, stated that astronomical observations commenced at Babylon 490 years before the Greek era of
Phoroneus In Greek mythology A major branch of classical mythology, Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Cosm ...
, indicating 2243 BC.
Stephanus of Byzantium Stephanus or Stephan of Byzantium ( la, Stephanus Byzantinus; grc-gre, Στέφανος Βυζάντιος, ''Stéphanos Byzántios''; centuryAD), was a Byzantine grammarian and the author of an important Gazetteer, geographical dictionary entitl ...
wrote that Babylon was built 1002 years before the date given by
Hellanicus of Lesbos Hellanicus (or Hellanikos) of Lesbos (Greek language, Greek: , ''Ἑllánikos ὁ Lésvios''), also called Hellanicus of Mytilene (Greek language, Greek: , ''Ἑllánikos ὁ Mutilēnaῖos'') was an ancient Greece, Greek logographer (history), lo ...
for the siege of Troy (1229 BC), which would date Babylon's foundation to 2231 BC. All of these dates place Babylon's foundation in the
23rd century BC The 23rd century BC was a century that lasted from the year 2300 BC to 2201 BC. Events *24th century BC, 2334 BC – 2279 BC: (short chronology) Sargon of Akkad's conquest of Mesopotamia. *c. 2300 BC: Indus Valley civilisation (Harappan) flouri ...
; however, cuneiform records have not been found to correspond with these classical (post-cuneiform) accounts.


History

The first attested mention of Babylon was in the late 3rd millennium BC during the Akkadian Empire reign of ruler
Shar-Kali-Sharri Shar-Kali-Sharri (, ''Dingir, DShar-ka-li-Sharri''; reigned c. 2217–2193 BC middle chronology, c. 2153–2129 BC Short chronology timeline, short chronology) was a king of the Akkadian Empire. Rule Succeeding his father Naram-Sin of Akkad, Nar ...
one of whose year names mentions building two temples there. Babylon was ruled by ensi (governors) for the empire. Some of the known governors were Abba, Arši-aḫ, Itūr-ilum, Murteli, Unabatal, and Puzur-Tutu. After that nothing is heard of the city until the time of Sumu-la-El. After around 1950 BC Amorite kingdoms appear in Uruk and Larsa in the south.


Old Babylonian period

According to a Babylonian king list,
Amorite The Amorites (; sux, 𒈥𒌅, MAR.TU; Akkadian language, Akkadian: 𒀀𒈬𒊒𒌝 or 𒋾𒀉𒉡𒌝/𒊎 ; he, אֱמוֹרִי, 'Ĕmōrī; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were an ancient Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic-speaking people ...
rule in Babylon began () with a chieftain named
Sumu-abum Sumu-Abum (also Su-abu) was an Amorite The Amorites (; sux, 𒈥𒌅, MAR.TU; Akkadian language, Akkadian: 𒀀𒈬𒊒𒌝 or 𒋾𒀉𒉡𒌝/𒊎 ; he, אֱמוֹרִי, 'Ĕmōrī; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were an ancient Semitic langu ...
, who declared independence from the neighboring city-state of
Kazallu Kazalla or Kazallu is the name given in Akkadian sources to a city in the ancient Near East The ''Near East''; he, המזרח הקרוב; arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ; fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik; tr, Yakın Doğu is a geographical ter ...
.
Sumu-la-El Sumu-la-El (also Sumulael or Sumu-la-ilu) was a King in the First Dynasty of Babylon The Old Babylonian Empire, or First Babylonian Empire, is dated to BC – BC, and comes after the end of Sumerian power with the destruction of the Third Dyn ...
, whose dates may be concurrent with those of Sumu-abum, is usually given as the progenitor of the
First Babylonian dynasty The Old Babylonian Empire, or First Babylonian Empire, is dated to BC – BC, and comes after the end of Sumer, Sumerian power with the destruction of the Third Dynasty of Ur, and the subsequent Isin-Larsa period. The chronology of the first dy ...
. Both are credited with building the walls of Babylon. In any case, the records describe Sumu-la-El's military successes establishing a regional sphere of influence for Babylon. Babylon was initially a minor city-state, and controlled little surrounding territory; its first four Amorite rulers did not assume the title of king. The older and more powerful states of,
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Elamite cuneiform, Cuneiform Elamite: ; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; he, עֵילָם ''ʿēlām''; peo, 𐎢𐎺𐎩 ''hūja'') was an ancient civilization centered i ...
,
Isin Isin (, modern Arabic language, Arabic: Ishan al-Bahriyat) is an archaeological site in Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Iraq. Excavations have shown that it was an important city-state in the past. History of archaeological research Ishan al-Bahri ...
, and
Larsa Larsa (Sumerian language, Sumerian logogram: UD.UNUGKI, read ''Larsamki''), also referred to as Larancha/Laranchon (Gk. Λαραγχων) by Berossus, Berossos and connected with the biblical Arioch, Ellasar, was an important city-state of anci ...
overshadowed Babylon until it became the capital of
Hammurabi Hammurabi (Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; ) was the sixth Amorites, Amorite king of the Old Babylonian Empire, reigning from to BC. He was preceded by his father, Sin-Muballit, who abdicated due to failing health. During his reign, he conque ...
's short-lived empire about a century later. Hammurabi (r. 1792–1750 BC) is famous for codifying the laws of Babylonia into the ''
Code of Hammurabi The Code of Hammurabi is a Babylonian legal text composed 1755–1750 BC. It is the longest, best-organised, and best-preserved legal text from the ancient Near East. It is written in the Old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian language, Akkadian, p ...
''. He conquered all of the cities and city states of southern Mesopotamia, including
Isin Isin (, modern Arabic language, Arabic: Ishan al-Bahriyat) is an archaeological site in Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Iraq. Excavations have shown that it was an important city-state in the past. History of archaeological research Ishan al-Bahri ...
,
Larsa Larsa (Sumerian language, Sumerian logogram: UD.UNUGKI, read ''Larsamki''), also referred to as Larancha/Laranchon (Gk. Λαραγχων) by Berossus, Berossos and connected with the biblical Arioch, Ellasar, was an important city-state of anci ...
, Ur,
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka or Warkah, was an ancient city of Sumer (and later of Babylonia) situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern Samawah, Muthanna Governorate, Al ...
,
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logogram, logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. Akkadian language, Akkadian: '' ...
,
Lagash Lagash (cuneiform: LAGAŠKI; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Lagaš''), was an ancient city state located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah, Iraq. Lagash ...
,
Eridu Eridu (Sumerian language, Sumerian: , NUN.KI/eridugki; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''irîtu''; modern Arabic language, Arabic: Tell Abu Shahrain) is an archaeological site in southern Mesopotamia (modern Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq). Eridu was l ...
, Kish, Adab,
Eshnunna Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar in Diyala Governorate, Iraq) was an ancient Sumerian (and later Akkadian Empire, Akkadian) city and city-state in central Mesopotamia 12.6 miles northwest of Tell Agrab and 15 miles northwest of Tell Ishchali. Althoug ...
,
Akshak Akshak ( Sumerian: , akšak) was a city of ancient Sumer, situated on the northern boundary of Akkad, sometimes identified with Babylonian Upi (Greek Opis). History Akshak first appears in records of ca. 2500 BC. In the Sumerian text ''Dumuzid ...
,
Shuruppak Shuruppak ( sux, , "the healing place"), modern Tell Fara, was an ancient Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early ...
, Bad-tibira,
Sippar Sippar (Sumerian language, Sumerian: , Zimbir) was an ancient Near Eastern Sumerian and later Babylonian city on the east bank of the Euphrates river. Its ''Tell (archaeology), tell'' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near Yusufiyah ...
, and
Girsu Girsu (Sumerian ; cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, la ...
, coalescing them into one kingdom, ruled from Babylon. Hammurabi also invaded and conquered
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Elamite cuneiform, Cuneiform Elamite: ; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; he, עֵילָם ''ʿēlām''; peo, 𐎢𐎺𐎩 ''hūja'') was an ancient civilization centered i ...
to the east, and the kingdoms of Mari and
Ebla Ebla (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''eb₂-la'', ar, إبلا, modern: , Tell Mardikh) was one of the earliest kingdoms in Syria. Its remains constitute a Tell (archaeology), tell located about southwest of Aleppo near the village of Mard ...
to the northwest. After a conflict with the
Old Assyrian period The Old Assyrian period was the second stage of Assyrian history, covering the history of the city of Assur from its rise as an independent city-state under Puzur-Ashur I 2025 BC to the foundation of a larger Assyrian territorial state after the ...
king
Ishme-Dagan Ishme-Dagan ( akk, , dingir, Diš-me-dingir, Dda-gan, ''Išme-Dagān''; ''fl.'' ''c.'' 1889 BC — ''c.'' 1871 BC by the short chronology, short chronology of the ancient near east) was the 4th king of the First Dynasty of Isin, according to th ...
, he forced his successor to pay tribute late in his reign. After the reign of Hammurabi, the whole of southern Mesopotamia came to be known as
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorites, Amorite-ruled ...
. From this time, Babylon supplanted
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logogram, logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. Akkadian language, Akkadian: '' ...
and
Eridu Eridu (Sumerian language, Sumerian: , NUN.KI/eridugki; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''irîtu''; modern Arabic language, Arabic: Tell Abu Shahrain) is an archaeological site in southern Mesopotamia (modern Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq). Eridu was l ...
as the major religious centers of southern Mesopotamia. Hammurabi's empire destabilized after his death. The far south of Mesopotamia broke away, forming the native
Sealand Dynasty The First Sealand dynasty, (URU.KÙKIWhere ŠEŠ-ḪA of King List A and ŠEŠ-KÙ-KI of King List B are read as URU.KÙ.KI) or the 2nd Dynasty of Babylon (although it was independent of Amorite-ruled Babylon), very speculatively c. 1732–1460 BC ...
, and the Elamites appropriated territory in eastern Mesopotamia. The Amorite dynasty remained in power in Babylon, which again became a small city state. After the destruction of the city the
Kassites The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (Chronology_of_the_ancient_Near_East#Variant_Middle_Bronze_Age_chronologies, short chron ...
rose to control the region. Texts from Old Babylon often include references to
Shamash Utu (dUD "Sun"), also known under the Akkadian language, Akkadian name Shamash, ''šmš'', syc, ܫܡܫܐ ''šemša'', he, שֶׁמֶשׁ ''šemeš'', ar, شمس ''šams'', Ashurian Aramaic: 𐣴𐣬𐣴 ''š'meš(ā)'' was the List of Mesop ...
, the sun-god of Sippar, treated as a supreme deity, and
Marduk Marduk (Cuneiform: dAMAR.UTU; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''amar utu.k'' "calf of the sun; solar calf"; ) was a god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates vall ...
, considered as his son. Marduk was later elevated to a higher status and Shamash lowered, perhaps reflecting Babylon's rising political power.


Middle Babylon

In 1595 BC the city was overthrown by the
Hittite Empire The Hittites () were an Anatolian peoples, Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara (before 1750 BC), then the Kültepe , Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centere ...
from
Asia Minor Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
. Thereafter,
Kassites The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (Chronology_of_the_ancient_Near_East#Variant_Middle_Bronze_Age_chronologies, short chron ...
from the
Zagros Mountains The Zagros Mountains ( ar, جبال زاغروس, translit=Jibal Zaghrus; fa, کوه‌های زاگرس, Kuh hā-ye Zāgros; ku, چیاکانی زاگرۆس, translit=Çiyakani Zagros; Turkish language, Turkish: ''Zagros Dağları''; Luri Lan ...
captured the city of Babylon, renaming it Karduniash, ushering in a dynasty that lasted for 435 years, until 1160 BC.
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bāvel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babi ...
weakened during the
Kassite The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (Chronology_of_the_ancient_Near_East#Variant_Middle_Bronze_Age_chronologies, short chron ...
era, and as a result, Kassite Babylon began paying
tribute A tribute (; from Latin ''tributum'', "contribution") is wealth, often Gifts in kind, in kind, that a party gives to another as a sign of submission, allegiance or respect. Various ancient states Tributary state, exacted tribute from the ruler ...
to the Pharaoh of
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
,
Thutmose III Thutmose III (variously also spelt Tuthmosis or Thothmes), sometimes called Thutmose the Great, was the sixth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Officially, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost 54 years and his reign is usually dated from 2 ...
, following his eighth campaign against Mitanni. Kassite Babylon eventually became subject to the
Middle Assyrian Empire The Middle Assyrian Empire was the third stage of Assyrian history, covering the history of Assyria from the accession of Ashur-uballit I 1363 BC and the rise of Assyria as a territorial kingdom to the death of Ashur-dan II in 912 BC. ...
(1365–1053 BC) to the north, and
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Elamite cuneiform, Cuneiform Elamite: ; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; he, עֵילָם ''ʿēlām''; peo, 𐎢𐎺𐎩 ''hūja'') was an ancient civilization centered i ...
to the east, with both powers vying for control of the city. By 1155 BC, after continued attacks and annexing of territory by the Assyrians and Elamites, the Kassites were deposed in Babylon. An Akkadian south Mesopotamian dynasty then ruled for the first time. However, Babylon remained weak and subject to domination by Assyria. Its ineffectual native kings were unable to prevent new waves of foreign West Semitic settlers from the deserts of the Levant, including the
Arameans The Arameans ( oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; grc, Ἀραμαῖοι; syc, ܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ, Ārāmāyē) were an ancient Semitic-speaking people in the Near East, first recorded in historical sources from the late 12th century BCE. The Aramean hom ...
and
Suteans The Suteans (Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''Sutī’ū'', possibly from Amorite language, Amorite: ''Šetī’u'') were a Semitic people who lived throughout the Levant, Canaan and Mesopotamia during the Old Babylonian Empire, Old Babylonian perio ...
in the 11th century BC, and finally the
Chaldea Chaldea () was a small country that existed between the late 10th or early 9th and mid-6th centuries BCE, after which the country and its people were absorbed and assimilated into the indigenous population of Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadia ...
ns in the 9th century BC, entering and appropriating areas of Babylonia for themselves. The Arameans briefly ruled in Babylon during the late 11th century BC.


Assyrian period

During the rule of the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the fourth and penultimate stage of ancient Assyrian history and the final and greatest phase of Assyria as an independent state. Beginning with the accession of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire grew t ...
(911–609 BC), Babylonia was under constant
Assyria Assyria (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , romanized: ''māt Aššur''; syc, ܐܬܘܪ, ʾāthor) was a major ancient Mesopotamia, Mesopotamian civilization which existed as a city-state from the 21st century BC to the 14th century BC, then to a terr ...
n domination or direct control. During the reign of
Sennacherib Sennacherib (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: or , meaning "Sin (mythology), Sîn has replaced the brothers") was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from the death of his father Sargon II in 705BC to his own death in 681BC. The second king of the ...
of Assyria, Babylonia was in a constant state of revolt, led by a chieftain named Merodach-Baladan, in alliance with the Elamites, and suppressed only by the complete destruction of the city of Babylon. In 689 BC, its walls, temples and palaces were razed, and the rubble was thrown into the Arakhtu, the sea bordering the earlier Babylon on the south. The destruction of the religious center shocked many, and the subsequent murder of Sennacherib by two of his own sons while praying to the god Nisroch was considered an act of atonement. Consequently, his successor,
Esarhaddon Esarhaddon, also spelled Essarhaddon, Assarhaddon and Ashurhaddon (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , also , meaning "Ashur (god), Ashur has given me a brother"; Biblical Hebrew: ''ʾĒsar-Ḥaddōn'') was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from the d ...
hastened to rebuild the old city and make it his residence for part of the year. After his death, Babylonia was governed by his elder son, the
Assyria Assyria (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , romanized: ''māt Aššur''; syc, ܐܬܘܪ, ʾāthor) was a major ancient Mesopotamia, Mesopotamian civilization which existed as a city-state from the 21st century BC to the 14th century BC, then to a terr ...
n prince
Shamash-shum-ukin Shamash-shum-ukin (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: or , meaning "Shamash has established the name"), was king of Babylon as a vassal of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 668 BC to his death in 648. Born into the Assyrian royal family, Shamash-shum-ukin was t ...
, who eventually started a civil war in 652 BC against his own brother,
Ashurbanipal Ashurbanipal (Neo-Assyrian language, Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , meaning "Ashur (god), Ashur is the creator of the heir") was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 669 BCE to his death in 631. He is generally remembered as the last great king o ...
, who ruled in
Nineveh Nineveh (; akk, ; Biblical Hebrew: '; ar, نَيْنَوَىٰ '; syr, ܢܝܼܢܘܹܐ, Nīnwē) was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located in the modern-day city of Mosul in northern Iraq. It is located on the eastern ban ...
. Shamash-shum-ukin enlisted the help of other peoples against Assyria, including
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Elamite cuneiform, Cuneiform Elamite: ; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; he, עֵילָם ''ʿēlām''; peo, 𐎢𐎺𐎩 ''hūja'') was an ancient civilization centered i ...
,
Persia Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
, the
Chaldea Chaldea () was a small country that existed between the late 10th or early 9th and mid-6th centuries BCE, after which the country and its people were absorbed and assimilated into the indigenous population of Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadia ...
ns, and
Suteans The Suteans (Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''Sutī’ū'', possibly from Amorite language, Amorite: ''Šetī’u'') were a Semitic people who lived throughout the Levant, Canaan and Mesopotamia during the Old Babylonian Empire, Old Babylonian perio ...
of southern Mesopotamia, and the
Canaanites {{Cat main, Canaan See also: *:Ancient Israel and Judah Ancient Levant Hebrew Bible nations Ancient Lebanon History of Palestine (region) by period, 0050 Ancient Syria Wikipedia categories named after regions History of Israel by period, 0050 ...
and
Arabs The Arabs (singular: Arab; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, DIN 31635: , , plural ar, عَرَب, DIN 31635: , Arabic pronunciation: ), also known as the Arab people, are an ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping o ...
dwelling in the deserts south of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...

Mesopotamia
. Once again, Babylon was besieged by the Assyrians, starved into surrender and its allies were defeated. Ashurbanipal celebrated a "service of reconciliation", but did not venture to "take the hands" of Bel. An Assyrian governor named
Kandalanu Kandalanu (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: ) was a vassal king of Babylon under the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Neo-Assyrian kings Ashurbanipal and Ashur-etil-ilani, ruling from his appointment by Ashurbanipal in 647 BC to his own death in 627 BC. After the fa ...
was appointed as ruler of the city. Ashurbanipal did collect texts from Babylon for inclusion in his extensive
library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are accessible for use and not just for display purposes. A library provides physical (hard copies) or digital access (soft copies) materials, and may be a physical location or a vir ...
at Ninevah. After the death of Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian empire was destabilized due to a series of internal civil wars throughout the reigns of the Assyrian kings
Ashur-etil-ilani Ashur-etil-ilani, also spelled Ashur-etel-ilani' and Ashuretillilani (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East, Ancient ...
,
Sin-shumu-lishir Sin-shumu-lishir or Sin-shumu-lisher' (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: or , meaning "Sin (mythology), Sîn, make the name prosper!"), also spelled Sin-shum-lishir,' was a usurper king in the Neo-Assyrian Empire, ruling some cities in northern Babylonia f ...
, and
Sinsharishkun Sinsharishkun or Sin-shar-ishkun (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: or ''Sîn-šarru-iškun'',' meaning "Sin (mythology), Sîn has established the king")' was the penultimate king of Assyria, reigning from the death of his brother and predecessor Ashur-e ...
. Eventually, Babylon, like many other parts of the
Near East The ''Near East''; he, המזרח הקרוב; arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ; fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik; tr, Yakın Doğu is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental region in Western Asia, that was once the hist ...
, took advantage of the chaos within Assyria to free itself from Assyrian rule. In the subsequent overthrow of the Assyrian Empire by an alliance of peoples, the Babylonians saw another example of divine vengeance.


Neo-Babylonian Empire

Under Nabopolassar, Babylon escaped Assyrian rule, and the allied Medo-Babylonian armies finally destroyed the Assyrian Empire between 626 BC and 609 BC. Babylon thus became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian (sometimes called the Chaldean) Empire. With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, particularly during the reign of his son
Nebuchadnezzar II Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-kudurri-uṣur'', meaning "Nabu, watch over my heir"; Biblical Hebrew: ''Nəḇūḵaḏneʾṣṣar''), also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II, was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling ...
(604–561 BC). Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including the
Etemenanki Etemenanki (Sumerian language, Sumerian: "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth") was a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk in the ancient city of Babylon. It now exists only in ruins, located about south of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq. Etemenanki h ...
ziggurat A ziggurat (; Cuneiform: 𒅆𒂍𒉪, Akkadian (language), Akkadian: ', D-stem of ' 'to protrude, to build high', cognate with other Semitic languages like Hebrew ''zaqar'' (זָקַר) 'protrude') is a type of massive structure built in ancient ...
, and the construction of the
Ishtar Gate The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon (in the area of present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq). It was constructed circa 575 BCE by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city. It was part o ...
—the most prominent of eight gates around Babylon. A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate is located in the
Pergamon Museum The Pergamon Museum (; ) is a listed building on the Museum Island in the Mitte (locality), historic centre of Berlin. It was built from 1910 to 1930 by order of German Emperor Wilhelm II, German Emperor, Wilhelm II according to plans by Alfred M ...
in
Berlin Berlin ( , ) is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3.7 million inhabitants make it the European Union's most populous city, according to population within city limits. One of Germany's sixteen constituen ...
. Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the
Hanging Gardens of Babylon The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World listed by Ancient Greece, Hellenic culture. They were described as a remarkable feat of engineering with an ascending series of tiered gardens containing a wide ...
, one of the
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, also known as the Seven Wonders of the World or simply the Seven Wonders, is a list of seven notable structures present during classical antiquity. The first known list of seven wonders dates back to the 2 ...
, said to have been built for his homesick wife, Amytis. Whether the gardens actually existed is a matter of dispute. German archaeologist
Robert Koldewey Robert Johann Koldewey (10 September 1855 – 4 February 1925) was a German archaeologist, famous for his in-depth excavation of the ancient city of Babylon in modern-day Iraq. He was born in Blankenburg am Harz in Germany, the duchy of Brunswick, ...
speculated that he had discovered its foundations, but many historians disagree about the location.
Stephanie Dalley Stephanie Mary Dalley FSA (''née'' Page; March 1943) is a British Assyriologist and scholar of the Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle Eas ...
has argued that the hanging gardens were actually located in the Assyrian capital,
Nineveh Nineveh (; akk, ; Biblical Hebrew: '; ar, نَيْنَوَىٰ '; syr, ܢܝܼܢܘܹܐ, Nīnwē) was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located in the modern-day city of Mosul in northern Iraq. It is located on the eastern ban ...
. Nebuchadnezzar is also notoriously associated with the
Babylonian exile The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history Jewish history is the history of the Jews, and their nation, Judaism, religion, and Jewish culture, culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, rel ...
of the Jews, the result of an imperial technique of pacification, used also by the Assyrians, in which ethnic groups in conquered areas were deported en masse to the capital. According to the Hebrew Bible, he destroyed
Solomon's Temple Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple (, , ), was the Temple in Jerusalem The Temple in Jerusalem, or alternatively the Holy Temple (; , ), refers to the two now-destroyed religious structures that served as the central places ...
and exiled the Jews to Babylon. The defeat was also recorded in the
Babylonian Chronicles The Babylonian Chronicles are a series of clay tablet, tablets recording major events in Babylonian history. They are thus one of the first steps in the development of ancient historiography. The Babylonian Chronicles were written in Babylonian c ...
.


Persian conquest

In 539 BC, the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, wikt:𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁 ), commonly known as Cyrus the Great, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the History of Iran, first Persian empire.#refachaemenids-EI, Schmitt Achaemenid dynasty ...
, king of
Persia Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
, with a military engagement known as the
Battle of Opis The Battle of Opis was the last major military engagement between the Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid Persian Empire and the Neo-Babylonian Empire, which took place in September 539 BC, during the Persian invasion of Mesopotamia. At the time, Ba ...
. Babylon's walls were considered impenetrable. The only way into the city was through one of its many gates or through the Euphrates River. Metal grates were installed underwater, allowing the river to flow through the city walls while preventing intrusion. The Persians devised a plan to enter the city via the river. During a Babylonian national feast, Cyrus' troops upstream diverted the Euphrates River, allowing Cyrus' soldiers to enter the city through the lowered water. The Persian army conquered the outlying areas of the city while the majority of Babylonians at the city center were unaware of the breach. The account was elaborated upon by
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, , }; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...
; or see and is also mentioned in parts of the Hebrew Bible. Herodotus also described a moat, an enormously tall and broad wall cemented with
bitumen Asphalt, also known as bitumen (, ), is a sticky, black, highly viscosity, viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a Pitch (resin), pitch. Before the ...
and with buildings on top, and a hundred gates to the city. He also writes that the Babylonians wear turbans and perfume and bury their dead in honey, that they practice ritual prostitution, and that three tribes among them eat nothing but fish. The hundred gates can be considered a reference to
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of the ...
, and following the pronouncement of Archibald Henry Sayce in 1883, Herodotus' account of Babylon has largely been considered to represent Greek folklore rather than an authentic voyage to Babylon. However, recently, Dalley and others have suggested taking Herodotus' account seriously. According to
2 Chronicles The Book of Chronicles ( he, דִּבְרֵי־הַיָּמִים ) is a book in the Hebrew Bible, found as two books (1–2 Chronicles) in the Christian Old Testament. Chronicles is the final book of the Hebrew Bible, concluding the third sect ...
36 of the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
Hebrew: ''Tān ...
, Cyrus later issued a decree permitting captive people, including the
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""The ...
, to return to their own lands. The text found on the
Cyrus Cylinder The Cyrus Cylinder is an ancient clay cylinder, now broken into several pieces, on which is written a declaration in Akkadian language, Akkadian cuneiform script in the name of Persia's Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great.#Kuhrt-200 ...
has traditionally been seen by biblical scholars as corroborative evidence of this policy, although the interpretation is disputed because the text identifies only Mesopotamian sanctuaries but makes no mention of Jews, Jerusalem, or Judea. Under Cyrus and the subsequent Persian king
Darius I Darius I ( peo, wiktionary:𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁 ; grc-gre, Δαρεῖος ; – 486 BCE), commonly known as Darius the Great, was a List of monarchs of Persia, Persian ruler who served as the third King o ...
, Babylon became the capital city of the 9th
Satrapy A satrap () was a governor of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to t ...
(Babylonia in the south and Athura in the north), as well as a center of learning and scientific advancement. In
Achaemenid The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire (; peo, wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, , ), also called the First Persian Empire, was an History of Iran#Classical antiquity, ancient Iranian empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. Bas ...
Persia, the ancient Babylonian arts of
astronomy Astronomy () is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and chronology of the Universe, evolution. Objects of interest ...
and
mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in modern mathematics ...
were revitalized, and Babylonian scholars completed maps of constellations. The city became the administrative capital of the
Persian Empire The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire (; peo, wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, , ), also called the First Persian Empire, was an History of Iran#Classical antiquity, ancient Iranian empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. Bas ...
and remained prominent for over two centuries. Many important archaeological discoveries have been made that can provide a better understanding of that era. The early Persian kings had attempted to maintain the religious ceremonies of
Marduk Marduk (Cuneiform: dAMAR.UTU; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''amar utu.k'' "calf of the sun; solar calf"; ) was a god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates vall ...
, who was the most important god, but by the reign of
Darius III Darius III ( peo, wiktionary:𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁 ; grc-gre, wiktionary:Δαρεῖος, Δαρεῖος ; c. 380 – 330 BC) was the last Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid King of Kings of Persia, reigning from ...
, over-taxation and the strain of numerous wars led to a deterioration of Babylon's main shrines and canals, and the destabilization of the surrounding region. There were numerous attempts at rebellion and in 522 BC ( Nebuchadnezzar III), 521 BC ( Nebuchadnezzar IV) and 482 BC (Bel-shimani and Shamash-eriba) native Babylonian kings briefly regained independence. However, these revolts were quickly repressed and Babylon remained under Persian rule for two centuries, until
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc, wikt:Ἀλέξανδρος, Ἀλέξανδρος, Alexandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the Ancient Greece, ancient Greek kingdom of Maced ...
's entry in 331 BC.


Hellenistic period

In October of 331 BC,
Darius III Darius III ( peo, wiktionary:𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁 ; grc-gre, wiktionary:Δαρεῖος, Δαρεῖος ; c. 380 – 330 BC) was the last Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid King of Kings of Persia, reigning from ...
, the last
Achaemenid The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire (; peo, wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, , ), also called the First Persian Empire, was an History of Iran#Classical antiquity, ancient Iranian empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. Bas ...
king of the Persian Empire, was defeated by the forces of the Ancient Macedonian ruler
Alexander Alexander is a male given name. The most prominent bearer of the name is Alexander the Great, the king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia (ancient kingdom), Macedonia who created one of the largest empires in ancient history. Variants li ...
at the
Battle of Gaugamela The Battle of Gaugamela (; grc, Γαυγάμηλα, translit=Gaugámela), also called the Battle of Arbela ( grc, Ἄρβηλα, translit=Árbela), took place in 331 BC between the forces of the Ancient Macedonian army, Army of Macedon un ...
. Under Alexander, Babylon again flourished as a center of learning and commerce. However, following Alexander's death in 323 BC in the palace of
Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-kudurri-uṣur'', meaning "Nabu, watch over my heir"; Biblical Hebrew: ''Nəḇūḵaḏneʾṣṣar''), also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II, was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling ...
, his empire was divided amongst his generals, the
Diadochi The Diadochi (; singular: Diadochus; from grc-gre, Διάδοχοι, Diádochoi, Successors, ) were the rival generals, families, and friends of Alexander the Great who fought for control over his empire after his death in 323 BC. The War ...
, and decades of fighting soon began. The constant turmoil virtually emptied the city of Babylon. A tablet dated 275 BC states that the inhabitants of Babylon were transported to
Seleucia Seleucia (; grc-gre, Σελεύκεια), also known as or , was a major Mesopotamian city of the Seleucid Empire, Seleucid empire. It stood on the west bank of the Tigris River, within the present-day Baghdad Governorate in Iraq. Name Seleu ...
, where a palace and a temple (
Esagila The Ésagila or Esangil ( sux, , ''" temple whose top is lofty"'') was a temple dedicated to Marduk, the protector god of Babylon. It lay south of the ziggurat Etemenanki. Description In this temple was the statue of Marduk, surrounded ...
) were built. With this deportation, Babylon became insignificant as a city, although more than a century later, sacrifices were still performed in its old sanctuary.


Renewed Persian rule

Under the Parthian and
Sassanid Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ) and also referred to by historians as the Neo-Persian Empire, was the History of Iran, last Iranian empire before the early Muslim conquests of the 7th-8th cen ...
s, Babylon (like Assyria) became a province of these
Persian Empire The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire (; peo, wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, , ), also called the First Persian Empire, was an History of Iran#Classical antiquity, ancient Iranian empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. Bas ...
s for nine centuries, until after AD 650. Although it was captured briefly by
Trajan Trajan ( ; la, Caesar Nerva Traianus; 18 September 539/11 August 117) was Roman emperor from 98 to 117. Officially declared ''optimus princeps'' ("best ruler") by the Roman Senate, senate, Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emper ...
in AD 116 to be part of the newly conquered province of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...
, his successor
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Trâiānus Hadriānus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born in Italica (close to modern Santiponce in Spain), a Roman ''municipium'' founded by Italic peoples, Italic settlers ...
relinquished his conquests east of the Euphrates river, which became again the Roman Empire's eastern boundary. However, Babylon maintained its own culture and people, who spoke varieties of
Aramaic Aramaic ( syc, ܐܪܡܝܐ, Arāmāyā; oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; tmr, אֲרָמִית) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic languages, Semitic language that originated in the ancient Syria (regio ...
, and who continued to refer to their homeland as Babylon. Examples of their culture are found in the
Babylonian Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the center ...
, the
Gnostic Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which coalesced in the late 1st century AD among Judaism, Jewish and Early Christianity, early Christian sects. These ...
Mandaean Mandaeans ( ar, المندائيون ), also known as Mandaean Sabians ( ) or simply as Sabians ( ), are an ethnoreligious group An ethnoreligious group (or an ethno-religious group) is a grouping of people who are unified by a common Relig ...
religion, Eastern Rite
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...
and the religion of the philosopher Mani. Christianity was introduced to Mesopotamia in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and Babylon was the seat of a Bishop of the
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ, ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā'') or the East Syriac Church, also called the Church of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the Persian Church, the Assyrian Church, the Babylonian Church or the Nestorian C ...
until well after the Arab/Islamic conquest. Coins from the Parthian, Sasanian and Arabic periods excavated in Babylon demonstrate the continuity of settlement there.


Muslim conquest

In the mid-7th century, Mesopotamia was invaded and settled by the expanding
Muslim Muslims ( ar, المسلمون, , ) are people who adhere to Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the ...
Empire, and a period of
Islamization Islamization, Islamicization, or Islamification ( ar, أسلمة, translit=aslamāh), refers to the process through which a society shifts towards the religion of Islam and becomes largely Muslims, Muslim. Societal Islamization has historicall ...
followed. Babylon was dissolved as a province and
Aramaic Aramaic ( syc, ܐܪܡܝܐ, Arāmāyā; oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; tmr, אֲרָמִית) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic languages, Semitic language that originated in the ancient Syria (regio ...
and
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ, ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā'') or the East Syriac Church, also called the Church of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the Persian Church, the Assyrian Church, the Babylonian Church or the Nestorian C ...
Christianity eventually became marginalized. Ibn Hawqal (10th century) and the Arab scholar, al-Qazwini (13th century), describe Babylon (Babil) as a small village. The latter described a well referred to as the 'Dungeon of Daniel' that was visited by Christians and Jews during holidays. The grave-shrine of Amran ibn Ali was visited by Muslims. Babylon is mentioned in medieval Arabic writings as a source of bricks,Olof Pedersén,
Excavated and Unexcavated Libraries in Babylon
", in Cancik-Kirschbaum et al. (2011), pp. 47–67.
said to have been used in cities from Baghdad to Basra.Julian E. Reade, "Disappearance and rediscovery"; in Finkel & Seymour, eds., ''Babylon'' (2009); pp. 13–30. European travellers, in many cases, could not discover the city's location, or mistook
Fallujah Fallujah ( ar, ٱلْفَلُّوجَة, al-Fallūjah, Iraqi Arabic, Iraqi pronunciation: ) is a city in the Iraqi Governorates of Iraq, province of Al Anbar Governorate, Al Anbar, located roughly west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. Fallujah ...
for it.
Benjamin of Tudela Benjamin of Tudela ( he, בִּנְיָמִין מִטּוּדֶלָה, ; ar, بنيامين التطيلي ''Binyamin al-Tutayli'';‎ Tudela, Navarre, Tudela, Kingdom of Navarre, 1130Kingdom of Castile, Castile, 1173) was a medieval Jewish tr ...
, a 12th-century traveller, mentions Babylon, but it is not clear if he went there. Others referred to
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد , ) is the capital of Iraq and the list of largest cities in the Arab world, second-largest city in the Arab world after Cairo. It is located on the Tigris near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon and the ...
as Babylon or New Babylon and described various structures encountered in the region as the Tower of Babel.
Pietro della Valle Pietro Della Valle ( la, Petrus a Valle; 2 April 1586 – 21 April 1652), also written Pietro della Valle, was an Italian composer, musicologist, and author who travelled throughout Asia during the Renaissance period. His travels took him to the ...
travelled to the village of Babil in Babylon in the 17th century and noted the existence of both baked and dried
mudbrick A mudbrick or mud-brick is an air-dried brick, made of a mixture of loam, mud, sand and water mixed with a binding material such as rice husks or straw. Mudbricks are known from 9000 BCE, though since 4000 BCE, bricks have also been fi ...
s cemented with
bitumen Asphalt, also known as bitumen (, ), is a sticky, black, highly viscosity, viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a Pitch (resin), pitch. Before the ...
.


Modern era

The eighteenth century saw an increasing flow of travellers to Babylon, including
Carsten Niebuhr Carsten Niebuhr, or Karsten Niebuhr (17 March 1733 Cuxhaven, Lüdingworth – 26 April 1815 Meldorf, Dithmarschen), was a German mathematician, cartographer, and explorer in the service of Denmark. He is renowned for his participation in the Roya ...
and Pierre-Joseph de Beauchamp, as well as measurements of its latitude. Beauchamp's memoir, published in English translation in 1792, provoked the
British East India Company The East India Company (EIC) was an English, and later British, joint-stock company founded in 1600 and dissolved in 1874. It was formed to Indian Ocean trade, trade in the Indian Ocean region, initially with the East Indies (the Indian subco ...
to direct its agents in Baghdad and Basra to acquire Mesopotamian relics for shipment to London. By 1905, there were several villages in Babylon, one of which was Qwaresh with about 200 households located within the boundaries of the ancient inner city walls. The village grew due to the need for laborers during the German Oriental Society excavations (1899-1917).


Excavation and research

Claudius Rich Claudius James Rich (28 March 1787 – 5 October 1821) was a British Assyriology, Assyriologist, business agent, traveller and antiquarian scholar. Biography Rich was born near Dijon "of a good family", but passed his childhood at Bristol. Earl ...
, working for the British East India Company in Baghdad, excavated Babylon in 1811–12 and again in 1817. Captain Robert Mignan explored the site briefly in 1827 and in 1829 he completed a map of Babylon which includes the location of several villages. William Loftus visited there in 1849.
Austen Henry Layard Sir Austen Henry Layard (; 5 March 18175 July 1894) was an English Assyriologist, traveller, cuneiformist, art historian, draughtsman, collector, politician and diplomat. He was born to a mostly English family in Paris and largely raised in It ...
made some soundings during a brief visit in 1850 before abandoning the site.
Fulgence Fresnel Fulgence Fresnel ( or ; ; (15 April 1795 – 30 November 1855) was a French oriental studies, Orientalist. He was brother to the noted physicist Augustin Fresnel (1788–1827). Fresnel was an Orientalist scholar who led one of the first archae ...
, Julius Oppert and Felix Thomas heavily excavated Babylon from 1852 to 1854. However, much of their work was lost in the Qurnah Disaster when a transport ship and four
raft A raft is any flat structure for support or transportation over water. It is usually of basic design, characterized by the absence of a Hull (watercraft), hull. Rafts are usually kept afloat by using any combination of buoyant materials such as w ...
s sank on the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western A ...
river in May 1855. They had been carrying over 200 crates of artifacts from various excavation missions when they were attacked by
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western A ...
river pirates near
Al-Qurnah Al-Qurnah (Kurnah or Qurna, meaning connection/joint in Arabic) is a town in southern Iraq about 74 km northwest of Basra, that lies within the conglomeration of Nahairat. Qurna is located at the confluence point of the Tigris and Euphrates river ...
. Recovery efforts, assisted by the Ottoman authorities and British Residence in Baghdad, loaded the equivalent of 80 crates on a ship for
Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre ) is a port city in the Seine-Maritime Departments of France, department in the Normandy (administrative region), Normandy region of northern France. It is situated on the right bank of the estuary of the Seine, ri ...
in May 1856. Few antiquities from the Fresnel mission would make it to France. Subsequent efforts to recover the lost antiquities from the Tigris, including a Japanese expedition in 1971–72, have been largely unsuccessful. Henry Rawlinson and George Smith worked there briefly in 1854. The next excavation was conducted by Hormuzd Rassam on behalf of the
British Museum The British Museum is a public museum dedicated to human history, art and culture located in the Bloomsbury area of London. Its permanent collection of eight million works is among the list of largest art museums, largest and most comprehens ...
. Work began in 1879, continuing until 1882, and was prompted by widespread looting of the site. Using industrial scale digging in search of artifacts, Rassam recovered a large quantity of cuneiform tablets and other finds. The zealous excavation methods, common at the time, caused significant damage to the archaeological context. Many tablets had appeared on the market in 1876 before Rassam's excavation began. A team from the German Oriental Society led by
Robert Koldewey Robert Johann Koldewey (10 September 1855 – 4 February 1925) was a German archaeologist, famous for his in-depth excavation of the ancient city of Babylon in modern-day Iraq. He was born in Blankenburg am Harz in Germany, the duchy of Brunswick, ...
conducted the first scientific
archaeological excavations In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the scientific study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts, sites, an ...
at Babylon. The work was conducted daily from 1899 until 1917. The primary efforts of the dig involved the temple of
Marduk Marduk (Cuneiform: dAMAR.UTU; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''amar utu.k'' "calf of the sun; solar calf"; ) was a god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates vall ...
and the processional way leading up to it, as well as the city wall. Artifacts, including pieces of the
Ishtar Gate The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon (in the area of present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq). It was constructed circa 575 BCE by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city. It was part o ...
and hundreds of recovered tablets, were sent back to Germany, where Koldewey's colleague
Walter Andrae Walter Andrae (February 18, 1875 – July 28, 1956) was a German archaeologist and architect born near Leipzig. He was part of the mission that stole the Ishtar Gate out of Iraq in the 1910s. Career Archaeologist He initially studied architectur ...
reconstructed them into displays at the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin. The German archaeologists fled before oncoming British troops in 1917, and again, many objects went missing in the following years. Further work by the
German Archaeological Institute The German Archaeological Institute (german: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, ''DAI'') is a research institute in the field of archaeology (and other related fields). The DAI is a "federal agency" under the Federal Foreign Office, Federal Fo ...
was conducted by Heinrich J. Lenzen in 1956 and Hansjörg Schmid in 1962. Lenzen's work dealt primarily with the
Hellenistic In Classical antiquity, the Hellenistic period covers the time in History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history after Classical Greece, between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as sig ...
theatre, and Schmid focused on the temple ziggurat
Etemenanki Etemenanki (Sumerian language, Sumerian: "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth") was a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk in the ancient city of Babylon. It now exists only in ruins, located about south of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq. Etemenanki h ...
. The site was excavated in 1974 on behalf of the Turin Centre for Archaeological Research and Excavations in the Middle East and Asia and the Iraqi-Italian Institute of Archaeological Sciences. The focus was on clearing up issues raised by re-examination of the old German data. Additional work in 1987–1989 concentrated on the area surrounding the Ishara and
Ninurta Ninurta ( sux, : , possible meaning "Lord fBarley"), also known as Ninĝirsu ( sux, : , meaning "Lord fGirsu"), is an List of Mesopotamian deities, ancient Mesopotamian god associated with farming, healing, hunting, law, scribes, and war ...
temples in the Shu-Anna city-quarter of Babylon. During the restoration efforts in Babylon, the Iraqi State Organization for Antiquities and Heritage conducted extensive research, excavation and clearing, but wider publication of these archaeological activities has been limited. Indeed, most of the known tablets from all modern excavations remain unpublished.


Iraqi government

The site of Babylon has been a cultural asset to
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...

Iraq
since the creation of the modern Iraqi state in 1921. The site was officially protected and excavated by the Kingdom of Iraq under British Administration, which later became the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq, and its successors: the
Arab Federation The Hashemite Arab Federation was a short-lived country that was formed in 1958 from the union between the Hashemites, Hashemite Kingdoms of Kingdom of Iraq, Iraq and Jordan. Although the name implies a federal structure, it was ''de facto'' a c ...
, the Iraqi Republic,
Ba'athist Iraq Ba'athist Iraq, formally the Iraqi Republic until 6 January 1992 and the Republic of Iraq thereafter, covers the History of Iraq, national history of Iraq between 1968 and 2003 under the rule of the Ba'ath Party (Iraqi-dominated faction), Arab S ...
(also officially called the Iraqi Republic), and the
Republic of Iraq A republic () is a " state in which power rests with the people A person (plural, : people) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturall ...
. Babylonian images periodically appear on Iraqi postcards and stamps. In the 1960s, a replica of the
Ishtar Gate The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon (in the area of present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq). It was constructed circa 575 BCE by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city. It was part o ...
and a reconstruction of Ninmakh Temple were built on site. On 14 February 1978, the
Ba'athist Ba'athism, also stylized as Baathism, (; ar, البعثية ' , from ' , meaning "renaissance" or "resurrection" Hans Wehr''Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic'' (4th ed.), page 80) is an Arab nationalist Arab nationalism ( ar, القو ...
government of Iraq under
Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein ( ; ar, صدام حسين, Ṣaddām Ḥusayn; 28 April 1937 – 30 December 2006) was an Iraqi politician who served as the fifth president of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. A leading member of the revolution ...
began the "Archaeological Restoration of Babylon Project": reconstructing features of the ancient city atop its ruins. These features included the Southern Palace of Nebuchadnezzar, with 250 rooms, five courtyards, and a 30-meter entrance arch. The project also reinforced the Processional Way, the
Lion of Babylon The Lion of Babylon is an ancient Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of ...
, and an amphitheater constructed in the city's Hellenistic era. In 1982, the government minted a set of seven coins displaying iconic features of Babylon. A Babylon International Festival was held in September 1987, and annually thereafter until 2002 (excepting 1990 and 1991), to showcase this work. The proposed reconstruction of the Hanging Gardens and the great ziggurat never took place.John Curtis, "The Site of Babylon Today"; in Finkel & Seymour, eds., ''Babylon'' (2009); pp. 213–220.John Curtis, "The Present Condition of Babylon"; in Cancik-Kirschbaum et al. (2011). Hussein installed a portrait of himself and Nebuchadnezzar at the entrance to the ruins and inscribed his name on many of the bricks, in imitation of Nebuchadnezzar. One frequent inscription reads: "This was built by
Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein ( ; ar, صدام حسين, Ṣaddām Ḥusayn; 28 April 1937 – 30 December 2006) was an Iraqi politician who served as the fifth president of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. A leading member of the revolution ...
, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq". These bricks became sought after as collectors' items after Hussein's downfall. Similar projects were conducted at
Nineveh Nineveh (; akk, ; Biblical Hebrew: '; ar, نَيْنَوَىٰ '; syr, ܢܝܼܢܘܹܐ, Nīnwē) was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located in the modern-day city of Mosul in northern Iraq. It is located on the eastern ban ...
,
Nimrud Nimrud (; syr, ܢܢܡܪܕ ar, النمرود) is an ancient Assyrian people, Assyrian city located in Iraq, south of the city of Mosul, and south of the village of Selamiyah ( ar, السلامية), in the Nineveh Plains in Upper Mesopotami ...
,
Assur Aššur (; Sumerian language, Sumerian: AN.ŠAR2KI, Assyrian cuneiform: ''Aš-šurKI'', "City of God Ashur (god), Aššur"; syr, ܐܫܘܪ ''Āšūr''; Old Persian ''Aθur'', fa, آشور: ''Āšūr''; he, אַשּׁוּר, ', ar, اشور) ...
and
Hatra Hatra ( ar, الحضر; syr, ‎ܚܛܪܐ) was an ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia located in present-day eastern Nineveh Governorate in northern Iraq. The city lies northwest of Baghdad and southwest of Mosul. Hatra was a strongly fortified ...
, to demonstrate the magnificence of Arab achievement. In the 1980s,
Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein ( ; ar, صدام حسين, Ṣaddām Ḥusayn; 28 April 1937 – 30 December 2006) was an Iraqi politician who served as the fifth president of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. A leading member of the revolution ...
completely removed the village of Qwaresh, displacing its residents. He later constructed a modern palace in that area called Saddam Hill over some of the old ruins, in the pyramidal style of a
ziggurat A ziggurat (; Cuneiform: 𒅆𒂍𒉪, Akkadian (language), Akkadian: ', D-stem of ' 'to protrude, to build high', cognate with other Semitic languages like Hebrew ''zaqar'' (זָקַר) 'protrude') is a type of massive structure built in ancient ...
. In 2003, he intended to have a cable car line constructed over Babylon, but plans were halted by the
2003 invasion of Iraq The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a United States-led invasion of the Ba'athist Iraq, Republic of Iraq and the first stage of the Iraq War. The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 (air) and 20 March 2003 (ground) and lasted just over one mont ...
.


Under US and Polish occupation

Following the
2003 invasion of Iraq The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a United States-led invasion of the Ba'athist Iraq, Republic of Iraq and the first stage of the Iraq War. The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 (air) and 20 March 2003 (ground) and lasted just over one mont ...
, the area around Babylon came under the control of US troops, before being handed over to Polish forces in September 2003. US forces under the command of General James T. Conway of the
I Marine Expeditionary Force The I Marine Expeditionary Force ("I" pronounced "One") is a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) of the United States Marine Corps primarily composed of the 1st Marine Division (United States), 1st Marine Division, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and ...
were criticized for building the military base "Camp Alpha", with a
helipad A helipad is a landing area or platform for helicopters and powered lift aircraft. While helicopters and powered lift aircraft are able to operate on a variety of relatively flat surfaces, a fabricated helipad provides a clearly marked hard s ...
and other facilities on ancient Babylonian ruins during the
Iraq War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Iraq War , partof = the Iraq conflict (2003–present), Iraq conflict and the War on terror , image = Iraq War montage.png , image_size = 300px , caption ...
. US forces have occupied the site for some time and have caused irreparable damage to the archaeological record. In a report of the
British Museum The British Museum is a public museum dedicated to human history, art and culture located in the Bloomsbury area of London. Its permanent collection of eight million works is among the list of largest art museums, largest and most comprehens ...
's Near East department, Dr. John Curtis described how parts of the archaeological site were levelled to create a landing area for helicopters, and parking lots for heavy vehicles. Curtis wrote of the occupation forces: A US military spokesman claimed that engineering operations were discussed with the "head of the Babylon museum". The head of the Iraqi State Board for Heritage and Antiquities, Donny George, said that the "mess will take decades to sort out" and criticised Polish troops for causing "terrible damage" to the site. Poland resolved in 2004 to place the city under Iraq control, and commissioned a report titled ''Report Concerning the Condition of the Preservation of the Babylon Archaeological Site'', which it presented at a meeting on 11–13 December 2004. In 2005, the site was handed over to the Iraqi Ministry of Culture. In April 2006, Colonel John Coleman, former Chief of Staff for the I Marine Expeditionary Force, offered to issue an apology for the damage done by military personnel under his command. However, he also claimed that the US presence had deterred far greater damage by other looters. An article published in April 2006 stated that UN officials and Iraqi leaders have plans to restore Babylon, making it into a cultural center. Two museums and a library, containing replicas of artifacts and local maps and reports, were raided and destroyed.


Present-day

In May 2009, the provincial government of
Babil Babylon was the capital city of the ancient Babylonia, Babylonian Empire, which itself is a term referring to either of two separate empires in the Mesopotamian area in antiquity. These two empires achieved regional dominance between the 19th and ...
reopened the site to tourists and over 35,000 people visited in 2017. An oil pipeline runs through an outer wall of the city. On 5 July 2019, the site of Babylon was inscribed as a
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international coope ...
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNES ...
. Thousands of people reside in Babylon within the perimeter of the ancient outer city walls, and communities in and around them are "rapidly developing from compact, dense settlements to sprawling suburbia despite laws restricting constructions". Modern villages include Zwair West, Sinjar Village, Qwaresh, and Al-Jimjmah among which the first two are better off economically. Most residents primarily depend on daily wage earning or have government jobs in Al-Hillah, while few cultivate dates, citrus fruits, figs, fodder for livestock and limited cash crops, although income from the land alone is not enough to sustain a family. Both Shi'a and Sunni Muslims live in Sinjar village with mosques for both groups. The State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) is the main authority responsible for the conservation of the archeological site. They are assisted by Antiquity and Heritage Police and maintain a permanent presence there. The
World Monuments Fund World Monuments Fund (WMF) is a private, international, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic architecture and cultural heritage sites around the world through fieldwork, advocacy, grantmaking, education, and trai ...
is also involved in research and conservation. The SBAH Provincial Inspectorate Headquarters is located within the boundaries of the ancient inner city walls on the east side and several staff members and their families reside in subsidized housing in this area.


Cultural importance

Before modern archaeological excavations in Mesopotamia, the appearance of Babylon was largely a mystery, and typically envisioned by Western artists as a hybrid between ancient Egyptian, classical Greek, and contemporary Ottoman culture. Due to Babylon's historical significance as well as references to it in the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
, the word "Babylon" in various languages has acquired a generic meaning of a large, bustling diverse city. Examples include: * ''Babylon'' is used in
reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its Jamaican diaspora, diaspora. A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals, "Do the Reggay" was the first popu ...
music as a concept in the
Rastafari Rastafari, sometimes called Rastafarianism, is a religion that developed in Jamaica during the 1930s. It is classified as both a new religious movement and a social movement by Religious studies, scholars of religion. There is no central autho ...
belief system, denoting the materialistic
capitalist Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for Profit (economics), profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, pric ...
world, or any form of imperialist evil. It is believed that Babylon actively seeks to exploit and oppress the people of the world, specifically people of African descent. It is believed by Rastafarians that Babylon attempts to forbid the smoking of ganja because this sacred herb opens minds to the truth. *
Freemasonry Freemasonry or Masonry refers to Fraternity, fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local guilds of Stonemasonry, stonemasons that, from the end of the 13th century, regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their inte ...
, which has its own versions of biblical legends, classically considered Babylon as its birthplace and a haven for science and knowledge. * ''
Babylon 5 ''Babylon 5'' is an American space opera television series created by writer and producer J. Michael Straczynski, under the Babylonian Productions label, in association with Straczynski's Synthetic Worlds Ltd. and Warner Bros. Television, War ...
'' – a
science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to Sci-Fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imagination, imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, Paral ...
series set on a futuristic
space station A space station is a spacecraft capable of human spaceflight, supporting a human crew in orbit for an extended period of time, and is therefore a type of space habitat (facility), space habitat. It lacks major spacecraft propulsion, propulsion or ...
that acts as a trading and diplomatic nexus between many different cultures. Many stories focus on the theme of different societies and cultures uniting, respecting differences, and learning from each other rather than fighting or looking on each other with prejudice and suspicion. * '' Babylon A.D.'' takes place in New York City, decades in the future. * Babilonas ( Lithuanian name for "Babylon") is a real estate development in
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no ), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of three Baltic states and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Lithuania ...
. *"
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bāvel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babi ...
" is a song by
Lady Gaga Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta ( ; born March 28, 1986), known professionally as Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She is known for her image reinventions and musical versatility. Gaga began performing as a teenag ...
that uses allusions to ancient Biblical themes to discuss gossip. * '' Eternals'' (2021), depicts Babylon on its greatest extent and is shown to be protected and aided in its development by the eternals.


Biblical narrative

In the
Book of Genesis The Book of Genesis (from Greek ; Hebrew: בְּרֵאשִׁית ''Bəreʾšīt'', "In hebeginning") is the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its Hebrew name is the same as its first word, ( "In the beginning") ...
, Babel (Babylon) is described as founded by
Nimrod Nimrod (; ; arc, ܢܡܪܘܕ; ar, نُمْرُود, Numrūd) is a Hebrew Bible, biblical figure mentioned in the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles. The son of Cush (Bible), Cush and therefore a great-grandson of Noah, Nimrod was describe ...
along with
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka or Warkah, was an ancient city of Sumer (and later of Babylonia) situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern Samawah, Muthanna Governorate, Al ...
, Akkad and perhaps
Calneh Calneh () was a city founded by Nimrod Nimrod (; ; arc, ܢܡܪܘܕ; ar, نُمْرُود, Numrūd) is a Hebrew Bible, biblical figure mentioned in the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles. The son of Cush (Bible), Cush and therefore a gr ...
—all of them in
Shinar Shinar (; Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surv ...
("Calneh" is now sometimes translated not as a proper name but as the phrase "all of them"). Another story is given in Genesis 11, which describes a united human race, speaking one language, migrating to Shinar to establish a city and tower—the
Tower of Babel The Tower of Babel ( he, , ''Mīgdal Bāḇel'') narrative in Book of Genesis, Genesis 11:1–9 is an origin myth meant to explain why the world's peoples speak different languages. According to the story, a united human race speaking a singl ...
. God halts construction of the tower by scattering humanity across the earth and confusing their communication so they are unable to understand each other in the same language. After Hezekiah, the king of Judah, became ill, Baladan, king of Babylon, sent a letter and gifts to him. Hezekiah showed all of his treasures to the delegation, and the prophet Isaiah later said to him: "Behold, the days are coming when everything that is in your house, and what your fathers have stored up to this day, will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left." Some 200 years later, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, invaded Judah, laid siege to Jerusalem and deported the Jews to Babylon. The prophet Daniel lived in Babylon for most of his life. Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel ruler over the entire province of Babylon for having interpreted his dream. Years later, Belshazzar held a banquet, at which fingers of a hand appeared and wrote on a wall. Daniel was called to provide an interpretation of the writings, upon which he explained that God had put an end to Belshazzar's kingdom. Belshazzar was killed that very night, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom. The Book of Isaiah says the following regarding Babylon: "It will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there." The
Book of Jeremiah The Book of Jeremiah ( he, ספר יִרְמְיָהוּ) is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, and the second of the Prophets in the Christian Old Testament. The superscription at chapter Jeremiah 1#Superscription, Jeremiah 1 ...
says that Babylon will "never again be inhabited" and that "no one will live there, nor will anyone of mankind reside in it" and that it will be a land in which "no one of mankind passes". The territories of Babylon,
Edom Edom (; Edomite: ; he, אֱדוֹם , lit.: "red"; Akkadian: , ; Ancient Egyptian: ) was an ancient kingdom in Transjordan, located between Moab to the northeast, the Arabah to the west, and the Arabian Desert The Arabian Dese ...
, Bozrah,
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Akkadian language, Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'abâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'bâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian language, Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū'', name=, group= () is the name of an a ...
, Tyre, Hazor, and the sons of
Ammon Ammon (Ammonite language, Ammonite: 𐤏𐤌𐤍 ''ʻAmān''; he, עַמּוֹן ''ʻAmmōn''; ar, عمّون, ʻAmmūn) was an ancient Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking nation occupying the east of the Jordan River, between the torren ...
are all predicted in the Bible to become like Sodom and Gomorrah, or uninhabited forever. Several Biblical prophecy scholars, most notably Chuck Missler, maintain that the "Doom of Babylon" as described in detail in Isaiah 13–14, Jeremiah 50–51, and possibly Revelation 17–18 must refer to a literal, future destruction of an actual city. Missler has written that Babylon has yet to be completely destroyed as prophesied by Isaiah and Jeremiah. The Persians were able to take Babylon without a fight in 539 BC. In
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination of shared features such as language, history, ethnicity, culture and/or ...
tradition, Babylon symbolizes an oppressor against which righteous believers must struggle. In
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...
, Babylon symbolizes worldliness and evil. Prophecies sometimes symbolically link the kings of Babylon with
Lucifer Lucifer is one of various figures in folklore associated with the planet Venus. The entity's name was subsequently absorbed into Christianity as a name for Devil in Christianity, the devil. Modern scholarship generally translates the term in the ...
.
Nebuchadnezzar II Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-kudurri-uṣur'', meaning "Nabu, watch over my heir"; Biblical Hebrew: ''Nəḇūḵaḏneʾṣṣar''), also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II, was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling ...
, sometimes conflated with
Nabonidus Nabonidus (Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-naʾid'', meaning "May Nabu be exalted" or "Nabu is praised") was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling from 556 BC to the fall of Babylon to the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great in 539 ...
, appears as the foremost ruler in this narrative. The
Book of Revelation The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament (and consequently the final book of the Bible#Christian Bible, Christian Bible). Its title is derived from the Incipit, first word of the Koine Greek text: , meaning "unveiling" ...
in the
Christian Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
refers to Babylon many centuries after it ceased to be a major political center. The city is personified by the "
Whore of Babylon Babylon the Great, commonly known as the Whore of Babylon, refers to both a symbolic female figure and place of evil Evil, in a general sense, is defined as the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, although in ...
", riding on a scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns, and drunk on the blood of the righteous. Some scholars of
apocalyptic literature Apocalyptic literature is a Literary genre, genre of prophecy, prophetical writing that developed in post-Galut, Exilic Judaism, Jewish culture and was popular among millennialism, millennialist early Christians. ''Apocalypse'' ( grc, , }) is a A ...
believe this New Testament "Babylon" to be a
dysphemism A dysphemism is an expression with connotations that are derogatory either about the subject matter or to the audience. Dysphemisms contrast with neutral or euphemistic expressions. Dysphemism may be motivated by fear Fear is an intensely un ...
for the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
. Other scholars suggest that Babylon in the book of Revelation has a symbolic significance that extends beyond mere identification with the first century Roman empire.Craig R. Koester, ''Revelation'' (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2014), 506, 684


Babylon in art

File:René-Antoine Houasse - Nabuchodonosor et Semiramis fait élever les jardins de Babylone (Versailles).jpg, ''
Nebuchadnezzar II Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-kudurri-uṣur'', meaning "Nabu, watch over my heir"; Biblical Hebrew: ''Nəḇūḵaḏneʾṣṣar''), also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II, was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling ...
ordering the construction of the
Hanging Gardens of Babylon The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World listed by Ancient Greece, Hellenic culture. They were described as a remarkable feat of engineering with an ascending series of tiered gardens containing a wide ...
to please his consort Amytis'', René-Antoine Houasse, 1676 File:History of babylon.jpg, Contemporary artwork depicting Babylon at the height of its stature File:The fall of Babylon; Cyrus the Great defeating the Chaldean Wellcome V0034440.jpg, ''The
Fall of Babylon The Fall of Babylon denotes the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire after it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire in 539 BCE. Nabonidus (Nabû-na'id, 556–539 BCE), son of the Assyrian priestess Addagoppe of Harran, Adda-Guppi, came to the thr ...
'',
mezzotint Mezzotint is a monochrome printmaking process of the ''intaglio (printmaking), intaglio'' family. It was the first printing process that yielded half-tones without using line- or dot-based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple. Mez ...
by John Martin, 1831 File:John Martin - The Daughters of Jerusalem Weeping by the Waters of Babylon - B1975.4.639 - Yale Center for British Art.jpg, ''The Daughters of Jerusalem Weeping by the Waters of Babylon'', by John Martin, 1834 File:Johann Georg Platzer - Alexander der Große empfängt die Schlüssel von Babylon.jpg, ''
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc, wikt:Ἀλέξανδρος, Ἀλέξανδρος, Alexandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the Ancient Greece, ancient Greek kingdom of Maced ...
receiving the keys of Babylon'', by Johann Georg Platzer, c. 1740 File:Apocalypse figurée des ducs de Savoie - Escorial E Vit.5 - Fall of Babylon.png, ''Figured Apocalypse of the Dukes of Savoy'' – Escorial E Vit.5 –
Fall of Babylon The Fall of Babylon denotes the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire after it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire in 539 BCE. Nabonidus (Nabû-na'id, 556–539 BCE), son of the Assyrian priestess Addagoppe of Harran, Adda-Guppi, came to the thr ...
, 15h century File:The Walls of Babylon LACMA 65.37.292.jpg, ''The Walls of Babylon'' by
Antonio Tempesta Antonio Tempesta, also called il Tempestino (1555 – 5 August 1630), was an Italian painter and engraver, whose art acted as a point of connection between Roman Baroque, Baroque Rome and the culture of Antwerp. Much of his work depicts major ba ...
, 1610


See also

*
Akitu Akitu or Akitum is a spring festival held on the first day of Nisan in ancient Mesopotamia, to celebrate the sowing of barley. The Assyrian and Babylonian Akitu festival has played a pivotal role in the development of Theories about religions, t ...
*
Cities of the ancient Near East The earliest cities in history were in the ancient Near East, an area covering roughly that of the modern Middle East: its history began in the 4th millennium BC and ended, depending on the interpretation of the term, either with the conquest by ...
* Jehoiachin's Rations Tablets *
List of Kings of Babylon The king of Babylon (Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''šakkanakki Bābili'', later also ''šar Bābili'') was the ruler of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Babylon and its kingdom, Babylonia, which existed as an independent realm from the 19th centur ...
*
Tomb of Daniel The Tomb of Daniel ( Persian: آرامگاه دانیال نبی) is the traditional burial place of the biblical figure Daniel. Various locations have been named for the site, but the tomb in Susa, in Iran Iran, officially the Is ...


Notes


References


Sources

* * Cancik-Kirschbaum, Eva, Margarete van Ess, & Joachim Marzahn, eds. (2011). ''Babylon: Wissenskultur in Orient und Okzident''. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter. . * Finkel, I. L. and M. J. Seymour, eds. ''Babylon''. Oxford University Press, 2009. . Exhibition organized by British Museum, Musée du Louvre & Réunion des Musées Nationaux, and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. * Liverani, Mario. ''Imagining Babylon: The Modern Story of an Ancient City''. Translated from Italian to English by Ailsa Campbell. Boston: De Gruyter, 2016. . Originally published as ''Immaginare Babele'' in 2013. * * * * * Vedeler, Harold Torger. ''A Social and Economic Survey of the Reign of Samsuiluna of Babylon (1794–1712 BC).'' PhD dissertation accepted at Yale, May 2006.


Further reading

* * and (paperback) * – originally published in German * Rich, Claudius: ** 1815.
Memoir on the Ruins of Babylon
'. Third Edition, 1818. ** 1818
Second Memoir on Babylon
** 1839. ''Narrative of a journey to the site of Babylon in 1811.'' Posthumous compilation. * * *


External links


Modern Wars and Ancient Governance: Archaeology and Textual Finds from First Millennium BCE Babylon – Odette Boivin – ANE Today – Nov 2022

– The Babylonian Akītu Festival and the Ritual Humiliation of the King – Sam Mirelman – ANE Today – Sep 2022
*


Site Photographs of Babylon – Oriental Institute

1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, Babylon

''Beyond Babylon: art, trade, and diplomacy in the second millennium B.C.''
Issued in connection with an exhibition held Nov. 18, 2008-Mar. 15, 2009, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York * Osama S. M. Amin,
Visiting the ancient city of Babylon
, ''Ancient History Et Cetera'', 17 November 2014. * Video of reconstructed palace:

*
UNESCO Final Report on Damage Assessment in Babylon
{{authority control Amorite cities Archaeological sites in Iraq Articles containing video clips Babil Governorate Former populated places in Iraq Hebrew Bible cities Historic Jewish communities Levant Nimrod Populated places established in the 3rd millennium BC Populated places disestablished in the 10th century 1811 archaeological discoveries Populated places on the Euphrates River World Heritage Sites in Iraq