Glimpses of History #10: Babylon

City of Babylon is the capital of Babylonia

Notwithstanding its lack of native stone or wood, Mesopotamia gave rise to noteworthy empires from crowded cities such as Babylon, Ur, Jericho, Samara and later Nineveh. Many of these empires are remembered as tyrannical (though of course records such as the Bible are history written by the vanquished).

Babylon was an important city-state of ancient Mesopotamia. Its remains can be found just south of Baghdad in present-day Iraq. Founded as a relatively small town around the beginning of the third millennium BCE, Babylon has been at the center of the rise and fall of a number of important dynasties and empires, including the Amorite, Hittite, Kassite, and Assyrian.

The City of Babylon is the capital of Babylonia and one of the most famous cities of antiquity. The ruins of the ancient city lie about 60 miles south of Baghdad, near the Hilla Canal of the Euphrates.

Ishtar Gate, Eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon Founded by Sumu-abum in 1894 BCE, Babylon rose to imperial status under Hammurabi (1792–1750 BCE). Many features of later cities developed here: written law, schools, taxes, shops and traffic: wheels, initially used for pottery, were now so common on carts that roads were purpose-built. The Babylonian number system, based on divisions of 60, is still at the center of our systems of geometry and timekeeping. Babylon ruled Mesopotamia for over a century, and later (after conquest by the Hittites, and Assyrian rule) was growing under Nebuchadnezzar II (634-562 BCE), when it attacked Egypt and sacked Jerusalem, Tyre and Nineveh. The reassembled city and Hanging Gardens persisted for centuries.

The earliest mention of Babylon comes from the time of the Dynasty of Akkad (2360—2180 BCE). The city of Babylon was well known to Greek and Roman historians. The Greek historian Herodotus, who may have visited the city in the fifth century BCE (or based his account on the reports of observers), wrote that “it surpasses in splendor any city of the known world.” Classical authors also credited Babylon with one of the ancient wonders of the world: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Babylonian Captivity is the detention of the Israelites in Babylon, lasting from their deportation by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 bc until their release by Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE. It is taken as a type of grieving exile.

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