Babylon

Babylon

Overview
Babylon was an Akkadian  city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

 (founded in 1867 BC by an Amorite
Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

 dynasty) of ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, about 85 kilometers (55 mi) south of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. Babylon, along with Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 to the north, was one of the two Akkadian nations that evolved after the collapse of the Akkadian Empire, although it was rarely ruled by native Akkadians.
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Babylon was an Akkadian  city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

 (founded in 1867 BC by an Amorite
Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

 dynasty) of ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, about 85 kilometers (55 mi) south of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. Babylon, along with Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 to the north, was one of the two Akkadian nations that evolved after the collapse of the Akkadian Empire, although it was rarely ruled by native Akkadians. All that remains of the original ancient famed city of Babylon today is a mound, or tell
Tell
A tell or tel, is a type of archaeological mound created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries. A classic tell looks like a low, truncated cone with a flat top and sloping sides.-Archaeology:A tell is a hill created by different civilizations living and...

, of broken mud-brick buildings and debris in the fertile Mesopotamian plain between the Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

 and Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 rivers. The city itself was built upon the Euphrates, and divided in equal parts along its left and right banks, with steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods.

Available historical resources suggest that Babylon was at first a small town which had sprung up by the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. The town flourished and attained independence with the rise of the First Amorite
Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

 Babylonian Dynasty in 1894 BC. Claiming to be the successor of the ancient Eridu
Eridu
Eridu is an ancient Sumerian city in what is now Tell Abu Shahrain, Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq. Eridu was considered the earliest city in southern Mesopotamia, and is one of the oldest cities in the world...

, Babylon eclipsed Nippur
Nippur
Nippur was one of the most ancient of all the Sumerian cities. It was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the "Lord Wind," ruler of the cosmos subject to An alone...

 as the "holy city" of Mesopotamia around the time an Amorite king named Hammurabi
Hammurabi
Hammurabi Hammurabi Hammurabi (Akkadian from Amorite ʻAmmurāpi, "the kinsman is a healer", from ʻAmmu, "paternal kinsman", and Rāpi, "healer"; (died c...

 first created the short lived Babylonian Empire; this quickly dissolved upon his death and Babylon spent long periods under Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n, Kassite
Kassites
The Kassites were an ancient Near Eastern people who gained control of Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire after ca. 1531 BC to ca. 1155 BC...

 and Elamite domination. Babylon again became the seat of the Neo-Babylonian Empire
Neo-Babylonian Empire
The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire was a period of Mesopotamian history which began in 626 BC and ended in 539 BC. During the preceding three centuries, Babylonia had been ruled by their fellow Akkadian speakers and northern neighbours, Assyria. Throughout that time Babylonia...

 from 612 to 539 BC which was founded by Chaldeans and whose last king was an Assyrian. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were considered to be one of the greatest Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one of the Wonders which may in fact have been legendary. They were purportedly built in the ancient city-state of Babylon, near present-day Al Hillah, Babil, in Iraq...

 were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The Seven Wonders of the World refers to remarkable constructions of classical antiquity listed by various authors in guidebooks popular among the ancient Hellenic tourists, particularly in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC...

. After the fall of Babylon it came under the rules of the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

, Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and Sassanid empires. It was dissolved as a province after the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 Islamic conquest of the 7th century AD.

Name


The Greek form (Βαβυλών) is an adaptation of Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

 Babili. The Babylonian name as it stood in the 1st millennium BC had been changed from an earlier Babilli in early 2nd millennium BC, meaning "Gate of God" or "Gateway of the God" (bāb-ili) by popular etymology. The earlier name Babilla appears to be an adaptation of a non-Semitic source of unknown origin or meaning.

In the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, the name appears as (Babel; Tiberian
Tiberian vocalization
The Tiberian vocalization is a system of diacritics devised by the Masoretes to add to the consonantal Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible; this system soon became used to vocalize other texts as well...

  Bavel; Syriac  Bāwēl), interpreted in the Book of Genesis (11:9) to mean "confusion" (viz. of languages
Confusion of tongues
The confusion of tongues is the initial fragmentation of human languages described in the Book of Genesis 11:1–9, as a result of the construction of the Tower of Babel....

), from the verb bilbél, "to confuse".

History


An indication of Babylon's early existence may be a later tablet describing the reign of Sargon of Akkad
Sargon of Akkad
Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great "the Great King" , was an Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 23rd and 22nd centuries BC. The founder of the Dynasty of Akkad, Sargon reigned in the last quarter of the third millennium BC...

 (ca. 23rd century BC short chronology). The so-called "Weidner Chronicle" states that it was Sargon himself who built Babylon "in front of Akkad
Akkad
The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

" (ABC 19:51). Another later chronicle likewise states that Sargon "dug up the dirt of the pit of Babylon, and made a counterpart of Babylon next to Agade". (ABC 20:18–19). Van de Mieroop has suggested that those sources may refer to the much later Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 of the Neo-Assyrian Empire rather than Sargon of Akkad.

Some scholars, including linguist I.J. Gelb
Ignace Gelb
Ignace Jay Gelb was a Polish-American ancient historian and Assyriologist who pioneered the scientific study of writing systems...

, have suggested that the name Babil is an echo of an earlier city name. Herzfeld wrote about Bawer in Iran, which was allegedly founded by Jamshid; the name Babil could be an echo of Bawer. David Rohl
David Rohl
New Chronology is the term used to describe an alternative Chronology of the ancient Near East developed by English Egyptologist David Rohl and other researchers beginning with A Test of Time: The Bible - from Myth to History in 1995...

 holds that the original Babylon is to be identified with Eridu
Eridu
Eridu is an ancient Sumerian city in what is now Tell Abu Shahrain, Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq. Eridu was considered the earliest city in southern Mesopotamia, and is one of the oldest cities in the world...

. The Bible in Genesis 10 indicates that Nimrod
Nimrod (king)
Nimrod is, according to the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles, the son of Cush and great-grandson of Noah and the king of Shinar. He is depicted in the Tanakh as a man of power in the earth, and a mighty hunter. Extra-Biblical traditions associating him with the Tower of Babel led to his...

 was the original founder of Babel (Babylon). Joan Oates claims in her book Babylon that the rendering "Gateway of the gods" is no longer accepted by modern scholars.

By around the 19th century BC, much of Mesopotamia was occupied by Amorites, nomadic tribes from the west who were Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 speakers like the Akkadians of Babylonia and Assyria, but at first did not practice agriculture like them, preferring to herd sheep. Over time, Amorite grain merchants rose to prominence and established their own independent dynasties in several Mesopotamian city-states, most notably Isin
Isin
Isin was an ancient city-state of lower Mesopotamia about 20 miles south of Nippur at the site of modern Ishan al-Bahriyat in Iraq's Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate.-History:...

, Larsa
Larsa
Larsa was an important city of ancient Sumer, the center of the cult of the sun god Utu. It lies some 25 km southeast of Uruk in Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate, near the east bank of the Shatt-en-Nil canal at the site of the modern settlement Tell as-Senkereh or Sankarah.-History:According to...

 and Babylon.


Classical Dating


Ctesias
Ctesias
Ctesias of Cnidus was a Greek physician and historian from Cnidus in Caria. Ctesias, who lived in the 5th century BC, was physician to Artaxerxes Mnemon, whom he accompanied in 401 BC on his expedition against his brother Cyrus the Younger....

 who is quoted in George Syncellus
George Syncellus
George Syncellus was a Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic. He had lived many years in Palestine as a monk, before coming to Constantinople, where he was appointed syncellus to Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople...

's Chronographia claimed to have access to manuscripts from Babylonian archives which date the founding of Babylon to 2286 BC by Belus
Belus (Babylonian)
Belus or Belos in classical Greek or classical Latin texts in a Babylonian context refers to the Babylonian god Bel Marduk. Though often identified with Greek Zeus and Latin Jupiter as Zeus Belos or Jupiter Belus, in other cases Belus is euhemerized as an ancient king who founded Babylon and...

 who reigned as Babylon's first king for fifty five years. Another figure from Simplicius
Simplicius
Simplicius may refer to:* Pope Simplicius * Simplicius of Cilicia , philosopher* Simplicius, Constantius and Victorinus , Roman martyrs and saints* Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrix , Roman martyrs and saints...

, who recorded that Callisthenes
Callisthenes
Callisthenes of Olynthus was a Greek historian. He was the son of Hero and Proxenus of Atarneus, which made him the great nephew of Aristotle by his sister Arimneste. They first met when Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great...

 in the 4th century BC travelled to Babylon and discovered astronomical observations on cuneiform tablets stretching back 1903 years before the taking of Babylon by Alexander the Great in 331BC . This makes the sum 1903 + 331 which equals 2234 BC as the founding date for Babylon. A similar figure is found in Berossus
Berossus
Berossus was a Hellenistic-era Babylonian writer, a priest of Bel Marduk and astronomer writing in Greek, who was active at the beginning of the 3rd century BC...

, who according to Pliny, stated that astronomical observations commenced at Babylon 490 years before the Greek era of Phoroneus
Phoroneus
In Greek mythology, Phoroneus was a culture-hero of the Argolid, fire-bringer, primordial king of Argos and son of the river god Inachus and either Melia, the primordial ash-tree nymph or Argia, the embodiment of the Argolid itself: "Inachus, son of Oceanus, begat Phoroneus by his sister Argia,"...

, and consequently in 2243 BC. Stephanus of Byzantium
Stephanus of Byzantium
Stephen of Byzantium, also known as Stephanus Byzantinus , was the author of an important geographical dictionary entitled Ethnica...

, wrote that Babylon was built 1002 years before the date (given by Hellanicus of Mytilene) for the siege of Troy (1229 BC), which would dates Babylon's foundation to 2231 BC. All of these dates place Babylon's foundation in the 23rd century BC.

Old Babylonian period


The First Babylonian Dynasty was established by an Amorite
Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

 chieftain named Sumu-abum
Sumu-abum
Sumu-Adama was the first King of the First Dynasty of Babylon. He reigned from 1830-1817 BC. He is credited with founding the city of Babylon .-References:...

 in 1894 BC, who declared independence from the neighboring city-state of Kazallu. The Amorites were not native to Mesopotamia, but were semi nomadic Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 invaders from the lands to the west. Babylon controlled little surrounding territory until it became the capital of Hammurabi
Hammurabi
Hammurabi Hammurabi Hammurabi (Akkadian from Amorite ʻAmmurāpi, "the kinsman is a healer", from ʻAmmu, "paternal kinsman", and Rāpi, "healer"; (died c...

's empire a century later (r. 1792–1750 BC). Hammurabi is famous for codifying the laws of Babylonia into the Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code, dating to ca. 1780 BC . It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stone stele and various clay...

that has had a lasting influence on legal thought. Subsequently, the city of Babylon continued to be the capital of the region known as Babylonia. Hammurabi's empire quickly dissolved after his death, although the Amorite dynasty remained in power until 1595 BC when they were overthrown by the invading Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 from Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

.

Following the sack of Babylon by the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

, the Kassites
Kassites
The Kassites were an ancient Near Eastern people who gained control of Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire after ca. 1531 BC to ca. 1155 BC...

 invaded and took over Babylon, ushering in a dynasty that was to last for 435 years until 1160 BC. The city was renamed Karanduniash during this period. The Kassites originated from the Zagros Mountains
Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km , from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran's western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of...

 to the north east of Mesopotamia. However, Kassite Babylon eventually became subject to domination by Elam
Elam
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

 and Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, both nations often interfering in or controlling Babylon during the Kassite period. The Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta I
Tukulti-Ninurta I
Tukulti-Ninurta I was a king of Assyria.He succeeded Shalmaneser I, his father, as king and won a major victory against the Hittites at the Battle of Nihriya in the first half of his reign...

 took the throne of Babylon in 1235 BC, becoming the first native Mesopotamian to rule there.

It has been estimated that Babylon was the largest city in the world from ca. 1770 to 1670 BC, and again between ca. 612 and 320 BC. It was perhaps the first city to reach a population above 200,000.

Assyrian period


Throughout the duration of the Neo Assyrian Empire (911 BC to 608 BC) Babylonia was under Assyrian domination or direct control.
During the reign of Sennacherib
Sennacherib
Sennacherib |Sîn]] has replaced brothers for me"; Aramaic: ) was the son of Sargon II, whom he succeeded on the throne of Assyria .-Rise to power:...

 of Assyria, Babylonia was in a constant state of revolt, led by Mushezib-Marduk
Mushezib-Marduk
Mushezib-Marduk , Chaldean prince chosen as King of Babylon after Nergal-ushezib.He led the Babylonian populace in revolt against Assyria and King Sennacherib in 689 BC, with the support of Elam and King Humban-nimena , at the Battle of Halule...

, 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. This act shocked the religious conscience of Mesopotamia; the subsequent murder of Sennacherib by two of his sons was held to be in expiation of it, and his successor Esarhaddon
Esarhaddon
Esarhaddon , was a king of Assyria who reigned 681 – 669 BC. He was the youngest son of Sennacherib and the Aramean queen Naqi'a , Sennacherib's second wife....

 hastened to rebuild the old city, to receive there his crown, and make it his residence during part of the year. On his death, Babylonia was left to be governed by his elder son the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n prince Shamash-shum-ukin
Shamash-shum-ukin
Shamash-shum-ukin was the Assyrian king of Babylon from 668-648 BC.He was the second son of the Assyrian King Esarhaddon. His elder brother, crown prince Sin-iddina-apla had died in 672, and in his stead the third son Ashurbanipal was invested as crown prince and later king of Assyria, while...

, who eventually started a civil war in 652 BC against his own brother and master Ashurbanipal
Ashurbanipal
Ashurbanipal |Ashur]] is creator of an heir"; 685 BC – c. 627 BC), also spelled Assurbanipal or Ashshurbanipal, was an Assyrian king, the son of Esarhaddon and the last great king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire...

, who ruled in Nineveh
Nineveh
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

.

Once again, Babylon was besieged by the Assyrians and starved into surrender. Ashurbanipal purified the city and celebrated a "service of reconciliation", but did not venture to "take the hands" of Bel. After the death of Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian empire began to unravel due to a series of bitter civil wars. Eventually Babylon, like many other parts of the near east, took advantage of this to free itself from Assyrian rule. In the subsequent overthrow of the Assyrian Empire, the Babylonians saw another example of divine vengeance. (Albert Houtum-Schindler
Albert Houtum-Schindler
General Sir Albert Houtum-Schindler was a scholar of Persia and an employee of the Persian government.- Career :...

, "Babylon," Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed.)

Neo-Babylonian Chaldean Empire


Under Nabopolassar
Nabopolassar
Nabopolassar was the king of the Babylonia and played a key role in the demise of the Assyrian Empire following the death of the last powerful Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal...

, Babylon threw off Assyrian rule in 612 BC and became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian (sometimes and possibly erroneously called Chaldean
Chaldean
Chaldean may refer to:* Historical Babylon, in particular in a Hellenistic context* Chaldea, "the Chaldees", Hellenistic designation for a part of Babylon...

) Empire.

With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, and his son Nebuchadnezzar II (604–561 BC) made Babylon into one of the wonders of the ancient world. Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including rebuilding the Etemenanki
Etemenanki
Etemenanki was the name of a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk in the city of Babylon of the 6th century BCE Neo-Babylonian dynasty. Originally seven stories in height, little remains of it now except ruins.-Construction:It is unclear exactly when Etemenanki was first built. A review article by Andrew R...

 ziggurat
Ziggurat
Ziggurats were massive structures built in the ancient Mesopotamian valley and western Iranian plateau, having the form of a terraced step pyramid of successively receding stories or levels.Notable ziggurats include the Great Ziggurat of Ur near Nasiriyah, Iraq; the Ziggurat of Aqar Quf near...

 and the construction of the Ishtar Gate
Ishtar Gate
The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city....

 – the most spectacular of eight gates that ringed the perimeter of Babylon. A reconstruction of The Ishtar Gate is located in the Pergamon Museum
Pergamon Museum
The Pergamon Museum is situated on the Museum Island in Berlin. The site was designed by Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hoffmann and was constructed in twenty years, from 1910 to 1930. The Pergamon houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate...

 in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. All that was ever found of the Original Ishtar gate was the foundation and scattered bricks.

Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were considered to be one of the greatest Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one of the Wonders which may in fact have been legendary. They were purportedly built in the ancient city-state of Babylon, near present-day Al Hillah, Babil, in Iraq...

 (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The Seven Wonders of the World refers to remarkable constructions of classical antiquity listed by various authors in guidebooks popular among the ancient Hellenic tourists, particularly in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC...

), said to have been built for his homesick wife Amyitis. Whether the gardens did exist is a matter of dispute. Although excavations by German archaeologist Robert Koldewey
Robert Koldewey
Robert Johann Koldewey was a German architect, famous for his discovery of the ancient city of Babylon in modern day Iraq. He was born in Blankenburg am Harz in Germany, the duchy of Brunswick, and died in Berlin at the age of 70...

 are thought to reveal its foundations, many historians disagree about the location, and some believe it may have been confused with gardens in the Assyrian capital, Nineveh
Nineveh
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

.

Chaldean rule did not last long and it is not clear if Neriglissar
Neriglissar
Nergal-sharezer or Neriglissar was King of Babylon from 560 to 556 BC. He was the son-in-law of Nebuchadrezzar II, whose son and heir, Amel-Marduk, Nergal-sharezer murdered and succeeded. A Babylonian chronicle describes his western war in 557/556...

 and Labashi-Marduk
Labashi-Marduk
Labashi-Marduk, was king of Babylon , and son of Neriglissar. Labashi-Marduk succeeded his father when still only a boy, after the latter's four-year reign. Most likely due to his very young age, he was unfit to rule, and was murdered in a conspiracy only nine months after his inauguration...

 were Chaldeans or native Babylonians, and the last ruler Nabonidus
Nabonidus
Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556-539 BCE.-Historiography on Nabonidus:...

 and his son and regent Belshazzar
Belshazzar
Belshazzar, or Balthazar , was a 6th century BC prince of Babylon, the son of Nabonidus and the last king of Babylon according to the Book of Daniel . Like his father, it is believed by many scholars that he was an Assyrian. In Daniel Belshazzar, or Balthazar , was a 6th century BC prince of...

 were Assyrians from Harran
Harran
Harran was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia whose site is near the modern village of Altınbaşak, Turkey, 24 miles southeast of Şanlıurfa...

.

Persia captures Babylon


In 539 BC, the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

, king of Persia, with an unprecedented military engagement known as the Battle of Opis
Battle of Opis
The Battle of Opis, fought in September 539 BC, was a major engagement between the armies of Persia under Cyrus the Great and the Neo-Babylonian Empire under Nabonidus during the Persian invasion of Mesopotamia. At the time, Babylonia was the last major power in western Asia that was not yet under...

. The famed walls of Babylon were indeed impenetrable, with the only way into the city through one of its many gates or through the Euphrates, which ebbed beneath its thick walls. Metal gates at the river's in-flow and out-flow prevented underwater intruders, if one could hold one's breath to reach them. Cyrus (or his generals) devised a plan to use the Euphrates as the mode of entry to the city, ordering large camps of troops at each point and instructed them to wait for the signal. Awaiting an evening of a national feast among Babylonians (generally thought to refer to the feast of Belshazzar mentioned in Daniel V), Cyrus' troops diverted the Euphrates river upstream, causing the Euphrates to drop to about 'mid thigh level on a man' or to dry up altogether. The soldiers marched under the walls through the lowered water. The Persian Army conquered the outlying areas of the city's interior while a majority of Babylonians at the city center were oblivious to the breach. The account was elaborated upon by Herodotus, and is also mentioned by passages in the Hebrew Bible.

Cyrus later issued a decree
Cyrus cylinder
The Cyrus Cylinder is an ancient clay cylinder, now broken into several fragments, on which is written a declaration in Akkadian cuneiform script in the name of the Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great. It dates from the 6th century BC and was discovered in the ruins of Babylon in Mesopotamia in 1879...

 permitting captive people, including the Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, to return to their own land (as explained in 2 Chronicles 36), to allow their temple to be rebuilt back in Jerusalem.

Under Cyrus and the subsequent Persian king Darius the Great, Babylon became the capital city of the 9th Satrapy (Babylonia in the south and Athura in the north), as well as a centre of learning and scientific advancement. In Achaemenid Persia, the ancient Babylonian arts of astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 and mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 were revitalised and flourished, and Babylonian scholars completed maps of constellations. The city was the administrative capital of the Persian Empire, the preeminent power of the then known world, and it played a vital part in the history of that region 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
Marduk was the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon, who, when Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi , started to...

, but by the reign of Darius III, over-taxation and the strains of numerous wars led to a deterioration of Babylon's main shrines and canals, and the disintegration of the surrounding region. There were numerous attempts at rebellion and in 522 BC (Nebuchadnezzar III
Nebuchadnezzar III
Nebuchadnezzar III was a ruler of Babylon.He led a short lived rebellion against Darius I of Persia.His exact identity is uncertain...

), 521 BC (Nebuchadnezzar IV
Nebuchadnezzar IV
Nebuchadnezzar IV, also known as Arakha, was the last king of Babylon.In 529 BC, with the disturbances that occurred after the death of Cambyses II and the proclamation of Bardiya as King, the Armenians revolted. Darius I of Persia sent an Armenian named Dâdarši to suffocate the revolt, later...

) and 482 (Bel-shimani and Shamash-eriba) BC native Babylonian kings briefly regained independence. However these revolts were relatively swiftly repressed and the land and city of Babylon remained solidly under Persian rule for two centuries, until Alexander the Great's entry in 331 BC.

Hellenistic period


In 331 BC, Darius III was defeated by the forces of the Ancient Macedonian
Ancient Macedonians
The Macedonians originated from inhabitants of the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, in the alluvial plain around the rivers Haliacmon and lower Axios...

 Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 ruler Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela
Battle of Gaugamela
The Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. The battle, which is also called the Battle of Arbela, resulted in a massive victory for the ancient Macedonians and led to the fall of the Achaemenid Empire.-Location:Darius chose a flat, open plain...

, and in October, Babylon fell to the young conqueror. A native account of this invasion notes a ruling by Alexander not to enter the homes of its inhabitants.

Under Alexander, Babylon again flourished as a centre of learning and commerce. But following Alexander's death in 323 BC in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, his empire was divided amongst his generals, and decades of fighting soon began, with Babylon once again caught in the middle.

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 on the Tigris
Seleucia , also known as Seleucia on the Tigris, was one of the great cities of the world during Hellenistic and Roman times. It stood in Mesopotamia, on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the smaller town of Ctesiphon, in present day Babil Governorate, Iraq.-Seleucid empire:Seleucia,...

, where a palace was built, as well as a temple given the ancient name of Esagila
Esagila
The Ésagila, a Sumerian name signifying "É whose top is lofty", was a temple dedicated to Marduk, the protector god of Babylon...

. With this deportation, the history of Babylon comes practically to an end, though more than a century later, it was found that sacrifices were still performed in its old sanctuary. By 141 BC, when the Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

n Empire took over the region, Babylon was in complete desolation and obscurity.

Persian Empire period



Under the Parthian
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

, and later, Sassanid
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 Persians, Babylon (like Assyria) remained a province of the Persian Empire for nine centuries, until after 650 AD. It continued to have its own culture and people, who spoke varieties of Aramaic, and who continued to refer to their homeland as Babylon. Some examples of their cultural products are often found in the Babylonian Talmud, the Gnostic Mandaean
Mandaeism
Mandaeism or Mandaeanism is a Gnostic religion with a strongly dualistic worldview. Its adherents, the Mandaeans, revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Noah, Shem, Aram and especially John the Baptist...

 religion, Eastern Rite
East Syrian Rite
The East Syrian Rite is a Christian liturgy, also known as the Assyro-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian or Chaldean Rite, and the Persian Rite although it originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia...

 Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and the religion of the prophet Mani
Mani (prophet)
Mani , of Iranian origin was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion of Late Antiquity which was once widespread but is now extinct...

. Christianity came to Mesopotamia in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and Babylon was the seat of a Bishop of the Church of the East
Church of the East
The Church of the East tāʾ d-Maḏnḥāʾ), also known as the Nestorian Church, is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. Originally the church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, it quickly spread widely through Asia...

 until well after the Arab/Islamic conquest.

Arab conquest


In the mid 7th century AD Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 was invaded and settled by the Arabs who brought with them Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. A period of Arabisation and Islamification followed. Babylon was dissolved as a province and Aramaic and Church of the East
Church of the East
The Church of the East tāʾ d-Maḏnḥāʾ), also known as the Nestorian Church, is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. Originally the church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, it quickly spread widely through Asia...

 Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 eventually became marginalised, although both still exist today (more so however among the Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

 of northern Iraq) as does Mandeanism. A Babylonian/Mesopotamian/Assyrian identity is still espoused by the ethnically indigenous Mesopotamian and Eastern Aramaic speaking members of the Chaldean Catholic Church and Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

 to this day.

Archaeology


The site at Babylon consists of a number of mounds covering an oblong area roughly 2 kilometers by 1 kilometer, oriented north to south. The site is bounded by the Euphrates River on the west, and by the remains of the ancient city walls otherwise. Originally, the Euphrates roughly bisected the city, as is common in the region, but the river has since shifted its course so that much of the remains on the former western part of the city are now inundated. Some portions of the city wall to the west of the river also remain. Several of the sites mounds are more prominent.

These include:
  • Kasr – also called Palace or Castle. It is the location of the Neo-Babylonian ziggurat Etemenanki of Nabopolassar
    Nabopolassar
    Nabopolassar was the king of the Babylonia and played a key role in the demise of the Assyrian Empire following the death of the last powerful Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal...

     and later Nebuchadnezzar
    Nebuchadnezzar
    Nebuchadnezzar was the name of several kings of Babylonia.* Nebuchadnezzar I, who ruled the Babylonian Empire in the 12th century BC* Nebuchadnezzar II , the Babylonian ruler mentioned in the biblical Book of Daniel...

     and lies in the center of the site.

  • Amran Ibn Ali – to the south and the highest of the mounds at 25 meters. It is the site of Esagila
    Esagila
    The Ésagila, a Sumerian name signifying "É whose top is lofty", was a temple dedicated to Marduk, the protector god of Babylon...

    , a temple of Marduk
    Marduk
    Marduk was the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon, who, when Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi , started to...

     which also contained shrines to Ea and Nabu
    Nabu
    Nabu is the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and his consort, Sarpanitum, and as the grandson of Ea. Nabu's consort was Tashmetum....

    .

  • Homera – a reddish colored mound on the west side. Most of the Hellenistic remains are here.

  • Babil – in the northern end of the site, about 22 meters in height. It has been extensively subject to brick robbing (or brick recycling depending on your point of view) since ancient times. It held a palace built by Nebuchadnezzar.


Occupation at the site dates back to the late 3rd millennium, finally achieving prominence in the early 2nd millennium under the First Babylonian Dynasty and again later in the millennium under the Kassite
Kassite
Kassite is a rare mineral with formula CaTi2O42. It crystallizes in the orthorhombic crystal system and forms radiating rosettes and pseudo-hexagonal tabular crystals which are commonly twinned. Crystals are brownish pink to pale yellow and are translucent with an adamantine luster...

 dynasty of Babylon. Unfortunately, almost nothing from that period has been recovered at the site of Babylon. First, the water table in the region has risen greatly over the centuries and artifacts from the time before the Neo-Babylonian Empire
Neo-Babylonian Empire
The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire was a period of Mesopotamian history which began in 626 BC and ended in 539 BC. During the preceding three centuries, Babylonia had been ruled by their fellow Akkadian speakers and northern neighbours, Assyria. Throughout that time Babylonia...

 are unavailable to current standard archaeological methods. Secondly, the Neo-Babylonians conducted massive rebuilding projects in the city which destroyed or obscured much of the earlier record. Third, much of the western half of the city is now under the Euphrates River. Fourth, Babylon has been sacked a number of times, most notably by the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 and Elamites in the 2nd millennium, then by the Neo-Assyrian Empire and the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 in the 1st millennium, after the Babylonians had revolted against their rule. Lastly, the site has been long mined for building materials on a commercial scale.

While knowledge of early Babylon must be pieced together from epigraphic remains found elsewhere, such as at Uruk
Uruk
Uruk was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the ancient dry former channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.Uruk gave its name to the Uruk...

, Nippur
Nippur
Nippur was one of the most ancient of all the Sumerian cities. It was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the "Lord Wind," ruler of the cosmos subject to An alone...

, and Haradum
Haradum
Haradum was an ancient Near East city on the middle Euphrates about 90 kilometers southeast of Mari.-History:While the site of Haradum was occupied earlier, being mentioned in texts from Mari...

, information on the Neo-Babylonian city is available from archaeological excavations and from classical sources. Babylon was described, perhaps even visited, by a number of classical historians including Ctesias
Ctesias
Ctesias of Cnidus was a Greek physician and historian from Cnidus in Caria. Ctesias, who lived in the 5th century BC, was physician to Artaxerxes Mnemon, whom he accompanied in 401 BC on his expedition against his brother Cyrus the Younger....

, Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

, Quintus Curtius Rufus
Quintus Curtius Rufus
Quintus Curtius Rufus was a Roman historian, writing probably during the reign of the Emperor Claudius or Vespasian. His only surviving work, Historiae Alexandri Magni, is a biography of Alexander the Great in Latin in ten books, of which the first two are lost, and the remaining eight are...

, Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

, and Cleitarchus
Cleitarchus
Cleitarchus or Clitarchus , one of the historians of Alexander the Great, son of the historian Dinon of Colophon, was possibly a native of Egypt, or at least spent a considerable time at the court of Ptolemy Lagus.Quintilian Cleitarchus or Clitarchus , one of the historians of Alexander the Great,...

. These reports are of variable accuracy and some political spin is involved but still provide useful data.

The first reported archaeological excavation of Babylon was conducted by Claudius James Rich
Claudius James Rich
Claudius James Rich , British business agent, traveller and antiquarian scholar,-Biography:Rich was born near Dijon....

 in 1811–12 and again in 1817. Robert Mignan excavated at the site briefly in 1827. William Loftus
William Loftus
William Kennett Loftus was a British geologist, naturalist, explorer and archaeological excavator. He discovered the ancient Sumerian city of Uruk in 1849.-Biography:...

 visited there in 1849.

Austen Henry Layard
Austen Henry Layard
Sir Austen Henry Layard GCB, PC was a British traveller, archaeologist, cuneiformist, art historian, draughtsman, collector, author, politician and diplomat, best known as the excavator of Nimrud.-Family:...

 made some soundings during a brief visit in 1850 before abandoning the site. Fulgence Fresnel
Fulgence Fresnel
Fulgence Fresnel was a French Orientalist who was a native of Mathieu, Calvados. He was brother to physicist Augustin Fresnel ....

 and Julius Oppert
Julius Oppert
Julius Oppert , French-German Assyriologist, was born at Hamburg, of Jewish parents.After studying at Heidelberg, Bonn and Berlin, he graduated at Kiel in 1847; and the next year went to France, where he was teacher of German at Laval and at Reims...

 heavily excavated Babylon from 1852 to 1854. Unfortunately, much of the result of their work was lost when a raft containing over forty crates of artifacts sank into the Tigris river.

Henry Creswicke Rawlinson and George Smith
George Smith (assyriologist)
George Smith , was a pioneering English Assyriologist who first discovered and translated the Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest-known written work of literature.-Early life and early career:...

 worked there briefly in 1854. The next excavation, a major one, was conducted by Hormuzd Rassam
Hormuzd Rassam
Hormuzd Rassam , was a native Assyrian Assyriologist, British diplomat and traveller who made a number of important discoveries, including the clay tablets that contained the Epic of Gilgamesh, the world's oldest literature...

 on behalf of the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

. Work began in 1879, continuing until 1882, and was prompted by widespread looting occurring at 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 in those days, caused much damage to the archaeological context.

A team from the German Oriental Society
Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft
The Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft is a Eingetragener Verein - a registered voluntary association - based at Berlin in Germany....

 led by Robert Koldewey
Robert Koldewey
Robert Johann Koldewey was a German architect, famous for his discovery of the ancient city of Babylon in modern day Iraq. He was born in Blankenburg am Harz in Germany, the duchy of Brunswick, and died in Berlin at the age of 70...

 conducted the first scientific archaeological excavations at Babylon. The work was conducted every year between 1899 and 1917 until World War I intruded. Primary efforts of the dig involved the temple of Marduk
Marduk
Marduk was the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon, who, when Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi , started to...

 and the processional way leading up to it, as well as the city wall. Hundreds of recovered tablets, as well as the noted Ishtar Gate
Ishtar Gate
The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city....

 were sent back to Germany.

Further work by the German Archaeological Institute
German Archaeological Institute
The German Archaeological Institute is an institution of research within the field of archaeology , and a "scientific corporation", with parentage of the federal Foreign Office of Germany-Origin:...

 was conducted by Heinrich J. Lenzen in 1956 and Hansjörg Schmid 1962. The work by Lenzen dealt primarily with the Hellenistic theatre and by Schmid with the temple ziggurat Etemenanki
Etemenanki
Etemenanki was the name of a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk in the city of Babylon of the 6th century BCE Neo-Babylonian dynasty. Originally seven stories in height, little remains of it now except ruins.-Construction:It is unclear exactly when Etemenanki was first built. A review article by Andrew R...

.

In more recent times, the site of Babylon was excavated by G. Bergamini on behalf of the Centro Scavi di Torino per il Medio Oriente e l'Asia and the Iraqi-Italian Institute of Archaeological Sciences. This work began with a season of excavation in 1974 followed by a topographical survey in 1977. The focus was on clearing up issues raised by re-examination of the old German data.
After a decade, Bergamini returned to the site in 1987–1989. The work concentrated on the area surrounding the Ishara and Ninurta
Ninurta
Ninurta in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology was the god of Lagash, identified with Ningirsu with whom he may always have been identical...

 temples in the Shu-Anna city-quarter of Babylon.

It should be noted that during the restoration efforts in Babylon, some amount of excavation and room clearing has been done by the Iraqi State Organization for Antiquities and Heritage. Given the conditions in that country the last few decades, publication of archaeological activities has been understandably sparse at best.

Reconstruction



In 1983, Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 started rebuilding the city on top of the old ruins (because of this, artifacts and other finds may well be under the city by now), investing in both restoration and new construction. He inscribed his name on many of the bricks in imitation of Nebuchadnezzar. One frequent inscription reads: "This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq". This recalls the ziggurat
Ziggurat
Ziggurats were massive structures built in the ancient Mesopotamian valley and western Iranian plateau, having the form of a terraced step pyramid of successively receding stories or levels.Notable ziggurats include the Great Ziggurat of Ur near Nasiriyah, Iraq; the Ziggurat of Aqar Quf near...

 at Ur
Ur
Ur was an important city-state in ancient Sumer located at the site of modern Tell el-Muqayyar in Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate...

, where each individual brick was stamped with "Ur-Nammu, king of Ur, who built the temple of Nanna". These bricks became sought after as collectors' items after the downfall of Hussein, and the ruins are no longer being restored to their original state. He also installed a huge portrait of himself and Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar was the name of several kings of Babylonia.* Nebuchadnezzar I, who ruled the Babylonian Empire in the 12th century BC* Nebuchadnezzar II , the Babylonian ruler mentioned in the biblical Book of Daniel...

 at the entrance to the ruins, and shored up Processional Way, a large boulevard of ancient stones, and the Lion of Babylon, a black rock sculpture about 2,600 years old.

When the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 ended, Saddam wanted to build a modern palace, also over some old ruins; it was made in the pyramidal style of a Sumerian ziggurat
Ziggurat
Ziggurats were massive structures built in the ancient Mesopotamian valley and western Iranian plateau, having the form of a terraced step pyramid of successively receding stories or levels.Notable ziggurats include the Great Ziggurat of Ur near Nasiriyah, Iraq; the Ziggurat of Aqar Quf near...

. He named it Saddam Hill. In 2003, he was ready to begin the construction of a cable car line over Babylon when the invasion began and halted the project.

An article published in April 2006 states that UN officials and Iraqi leaders have plans for restoring Babylon, making it into a cultural center.

As of May 2009, the provincial government of Babil has reopened the site to tourism.

Effects of the U.S. military


US forces under the command of General James T. Conway
James T. Conway
James Terry Conway is a retired United States Marine Corps four-star general who was the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps...

 of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force
1st Marine Expeditionary Force
The I Marine Expeditionary Force is a Marine Air Ground Task Force of the United States Marine Corps primarily composed of the 1st Marine Division, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and 1st Marine Logistics Group...

 were criticized for building the military base "Camp Alpha", comprising among other facilities a helipad
Helipad
Helipad is a common abbreviation for helicopter landing pad, a landing area for helicopters. While helicopters are able to operate on a variety of relatively flat surfaces, a fabricated helipad provides a clearly marked hard surface away from obstacles where a helicopter can safely...

, on ancient Babylonian ruins following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

's Near East department, Dr. John Curtis describes how parts of the archaeological site were levelled to create a landing area for helicopters, and parking lots for heavy vehicles. Curtis wrote that the occupation forces
"caused substantial damage to the Ishtar Gate
Ishtar Gate
The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city....

, one of the most famous monuments from antiquity [...] US military vehicles crushed 2,600-year-old brick pavements, archaeological fragments were scattered across the site, more than 12 trenches were driven into ancient deposits and military earth-moving projects contaminated the site for future generations of scientists [...] Add to all that the damage caused to nine of the moulded brick figures of dragons in the Ishtar Gate by soldiers trying to remove the bricks from the wall."


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". In April 2006, Colonel John Coleman, former Chief of Staff for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, offered to issue an apology for the damage done by military personnel under his command. However he claimed that the US presence had deterred far greater damage from other looters.

Babylon in popular culture


Due to the importance of Babylon in its time as well as the stories in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 the word "Babylon" in various languages has acquired a generic meaning of a large, bustling diverse city. As such, the word "Babylon" is used for various entertainment events or buildings. For example, sci-fi series Babylon 5
Babylon 5
Babylon 5 is an American science fiction television series created, produced and largely written by J. Michael Straczynski. The show centers on a space station named Babylon 5: a focal point for politics, diplomacy, and conflict during the years 2257–2262...

 tells a tale of a multi-racial future space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

. Babilonas
Babilonas
Babilonas is a privately developed district of retail, commercial, residential and public buildings in Panevėžys, Lithuania....

 (Lithuanian
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

 name for "Babylon") is also a name for a major real estate development in Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

.

See also

  • Akkad
    Akkad
    The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

  • Babel (disambiguation)
    Babel (disambiguation)
    Babel is the name used in the Hebrew Bible for the city of Babylon.Babel may also refer to:-People:*Isaak Babel, Soviet journalist, playwright, and short story writer*Ryan Babel, Dutch footballer*Markus Babbel, German footballer-Places:...

  • Cities of the ancient Near East
    Cities of the ancient Near East
    The largest cities in the Bronze Age ancient Near East housed several tens of thousands. Memphis in the Early Bronze Age with some 30,000 inhabitants was the largest city of the time by far...

  • Code of Hammurabi
    Code of Hammurabi
    The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code, dating to ca. 1780 BC . It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stone stele and various clay...

  • Etemenanki
    Etemenanki
    Etemenanki was the name of a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk in the city of Babylon of the 6th century BCE Neo-Babylonian dynasty. Originally seven stories in height, little remains of it now except ruins.-Construction:It is unclear exactly when Etemenanki was first built. A review article by Andrew R...

  • Jehoiachin's Rations Tablets
    Jehoiachin's Rations Tablets
    Jehoiachin's rations tablets date from the 6th century BC and describe the rations set aside for a royal captive identified with Jehoiachin, king of Judah.Tablets from the royal archives of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon were unearthed in the ruins of Babylon that contain food rations paid to...

  • List of Kings of Babylon
  • Short chronology timeline
    Short chronology timeline
    The short chronology is one chronology of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 1728 BC – 1686 BC and the sack of Babylon to 1531 BC....

  • Tomb of Daniel
    Tomb of Daniel
    The Tomb of Daniel is the traditional burial place of the biblical prophet Daniel. Various locations have been named for the site, but the tomb in Susa, Iran, is the most widely accepted, it being first mentioned by Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Asia between 1160 and 1163.-Susa‌, Iran:The Book of...

  • Tower of Babel
    Tower of Babel
    The Tower of Babel , according to the Book of Genesis, was an enormous tower built in the plain of Shinar .According to the biblical account, a united humanity of the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating from the east, came to the land of Shinar, where...


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