Babylonia

Babylonia

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Babylonia'
Start a new discussion about 'Babylonia'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern 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...

 (present-day 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....

), with Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi
Hammurabi
Hammurabi Hammurabi Hammurabi (Akkadian from Amorite ʻAmmurāpi, "the kinsman is a healer", from ʻAmmu, "paternal kinsman", and Rāpi, "healer"; (died c...

 (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 ca. 1696 – 1654 BC, short chronology
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....

) created an empire out of the territories of the former Akkadian Empire.
Babylonia adopted the written Semitic Akkadian language
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...

 for official use, and retained the Sumerian language
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

 for religious use, which by that time was no longer a spoken language. The Akkadian and Sumerian traditions played a major role in later Babylonian culture, and the region would remain an important cultural center, even under outside rule, throughout the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 and the Early Iron Age.

The earliest mention of the city of Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 can be found in a tablet
Clay tablet
In the Ancient Near East, clay tablets were used as a writing medium, especially for writing in cuneiform, throughout the Bronze Age and well into the Iron Age....

 from 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...

, dating back to the 23rd century BC. Babylon was a religious and cultural centre at this point, and like the rest of Mesopotamia, it was subject to the Akkadian Empire. After the collapse of the Akkadian empire the region was ruled by Gutians for a few decades before the rise of the Sumerian
Sumerian
Sumerian may refer to:*Sumerian language*Cuneiform script – Sumerian script*The people who lived in ancient Sumer, or anything else pertaining to their civilization, including:**History of Sumer**Sumerian architecture**Sumerian mythology...

 third dynasty of 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...

.
Following the collapse of the last Sumerian "Ur-III" dynasty at the hands of the 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...

ites (2002 BC traditional, 1940 BC short), the Amorite
Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

s gradually gained control over most of Mesopotamia, where they formed a series of small kingdoms. During the first centuries of what is called the "Amorite period", the most powerful city states were 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:...

 and 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...

, although Shamshi-Adad I
Shamshi-Adad I
Shamshi-Adad I Shamshi-Adad I Shamshi-Adad I (fl. late 18th century BC (short chronology) was an Assyrian king. He rose to prominence when he carved out an empire encompassing much of Mesopotamia, Syria and Asia Minor...

 usurped the throne of 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...

 and formed a short lived empire in the north. One of these Amorite dynasties founded the 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:...

 of Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, which would ultimately take over the others and form the first Babylonian empire
Empire
The term empire derives from the Latin imperium . Politically, an empire is a geographically extensive group of states and peoples united and ruled either by a monarch or an oligarchy....

, during what is also called the Old Babylonian
Old Babylonian
Old Babylonian may refer to:*the period of the First Babylonian Dynasty *the historical stage of the Akkadian language of that time...

 Period.

Old Babylonian period




During the third millennium BC
3rd millennium BC
The 3rd millennium BC spans the Early to Middle Bronze Age.It represents a period of time in which imperialism, or the desire to conquer, grew to prominence, in the city states of the Middle East, but also throughout Eurasia, with Indo-European expansion to Anatolia, Europe and Central Asia. The...

, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

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

ians, which included widespread bilingualism. The influence of Sumerian
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

 on 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...

 (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the third millennium as a sprachbund
Sprachbund
A Sprachbund – also known as a linguistic area, convergence area, diffusion area or language crossroads – is a group of languages that have become similar in some way because of geographical proximity and language contact. They may be genetically unrelated, or only distantly related...

.

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...

 gradually replaced Sumerian as the spoken language of 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...

 somewhere around the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC (the exact dating being a matter of debate), but Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the 1st century.

First Dynasty, Amorite Period


The independent city state of Babylon was founded by an Amorite
Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

 chieftain named Sumuabum in the early 18th century BC. Initially Babylon was a small nation which did not control much territory, and was overshadowed by more established kingdoms like 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...

, 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...

 and 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...

.
Babylon remained a small and minor state until the reign of its sixth ruler, Hammurabi
Hammurabi
Hammurabi Hammurabi Hammurabi (Akkadian from Amorite ʻAmmurāpi, "the kinsman is a healer", from ʻAmmu, "paternal kinsman", and Rāpi, "healer"; (died c...

 (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 ca. 1728 – 1686 BC (short
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....

). He was a very efficient ruler, establishing a bureaucracy, with taxation and centralized government, and giving the region stability after turbulent times, thereby transforming it into the central power of Mesopotamia. One of the most important works of this "First Dynasty of Babylon", as it was called by the native historians, was the compilation of a code of laws
Babylonian law
Archaeological material for the study of Babylonian law is singularly extensive. So-called "contracts" exist in the thousands, including a great variety of deeds, conveyances, bonds, receipts, accounts, and most important of all, actual legal decisions given by the judges in the law courts...

. This was made by order of Hammurabi after the expulsion of the 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...

ites and the settlement of his kingdom. In 1901, a copy of 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...

 was discovered on a stele
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

 by J. De Morgan and V. Scheil at Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

, where it had later been taken as plunder. That copy is now in the Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

.

The armies of Babylonia under Hammurabi
Hammurabi
Hammurabi Hammurabi Hammurabi (Akkadian from Amorite ʻAmmurāpi, "the kinsman is a healer", from ʻAmmu, "paternal kinsman", and Rāpi, "healer"; (died c...

 were well-disciplined, and conquered the city-states of 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:...

, Eshnunna
Eshnunna
Eshnunna was an ancient Sumerian city and city-state in central Mesopotamia. Although situated in the Diyala Valley north-east of Sumer proper, the city nonetheless belonged securely within the Sumerian cultural milieu.The tutelary deity of the city was Tishpak .- History :Occupied from the Jemdet...

, 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...

, Mari
Mari, Syria
Mari was an ancient Sumerian and Amorite city, located 11 kilometers north-west of the modern town of Abu Kamal on the western bank of Euphrates river, some 120 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, Syria...

 and eventually 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...

 after a protracted struggle with the Assyrian king Ishme-Dagan
Ishme-Dagan
Ishme-Dagan I was the son of the Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad I, put on throne of Ekallatum by his father after a successful military attack. He ruled the area of the upper Tigris, including the city-state of Assur. Following Shamshi-Adad's death , Ishme-Dagan I managed to rule Assyria until himself...

 for control of Mesopotamia.

Babylonian beliefs held the king as an agent 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 city of Babylon as a "holy city" where any legitimate ruler of Mesopotamia had to be crowned.

The Babylonians, like their predecessors, engaged in regular trade with city-states to the west; with Babylonian officials or troops sometimes passing to Syria and Canaan, and Amorite merchants operating throughout Mesopotamia. The Babylonian monarchy's western connections remained strong for quite some time. An Amorite named Abi-ramu or Abram was the father of a witness to a deed dated to the reign of Hammurabi's grandfather; Ammi-Ditana
Ammi-Ditana
Ammi-Ditana was a king of Babylon who reigned from 1683-1640s BC. He was preceded by Abi-Eshuh. Year-names survive for the first 37 years of his reign, plus fragments for a few possible additional years...

, great-grandson of Hammurabi, still titled himself "king of the land of the Amorites". Ammi-Ditana's father and son also bore Canaanite names: Abi-Eshuh
Abi-Eshuh
Abi-Eshuh was an Amorite king of Babylon who reigned from 1711-1684 BC. He was preceded by Samsu-iluna....

 and Ammisaduqa
Ammi-Saduqa
Ammi-Saduqa was a king of the First Dynasty of Babylon. Some 21 year-names survive for his reign, including the first 17...

.

But southern Mesopotamia had no natural, defendable boundaries, making it vulnerable to attack. After the death of Hammurabi, his empire began to disintegrate rapidly, the far south of Mesopotamia was lost, and the Babylonians and Amorites were driven from 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. However Amorite
Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

 rule survived for around 150 years, until the reign of the 15th king of the first dynasty, Samsu-Ditana
Samsu-Ditana
Samsu-Ditana was the King of Babylon, who reigned from 1626 BC to 1595 BC.Samsu-Ditana is the last king of the First Babylonian Dynasty. After the Hittite army under Mursilis I invaded Babylon, he was overthrown....

, son of Ammisaduqa. He was overthrown following the "sack of Babylon" by the Hittite
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...

 king Mursili I
Mursili I
Mursili I was a king of the Hittites ca. 1556–1526 BC , and was likely a grandson of his predecessor, Hattusili I. His sister was Harapšili.- Biography :...

, and Babylonia was turned over to 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...

, with whom Samsu-iluna
Samsu-Iluna
Samsu-iluna was the seventh king of the founding Amorite dynasty of Babylon, ruling from 1750 BC to 1712 BC middle chronology. He was the son and successor of Hammurabi by an unknown mother...

 had already come into conflict in his 6th year.

The sack of Babylon and ancient Near East chronology


The date of the sack of Babylon by the Hittite
Hittite
Hittite may refer to:*Hittites, ancient Anatolian people**Hittite language, ancient Indo-European language**History of the Hittites**Hittite mythology*Neo-Hittite states, Iron Age successors to the Hittite people located in modern Turkey and Syria...

 king Mursilis I is considered crucial to the various calculations of the early chronology of the ancient Near East
Chronology of the ancient Near East
The chronology of the Ancient Near East provides a framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Individual inscriptions and texts customarily record events in terms of a succession of officials or rulers, taking forms like "in the year X of king Y". Thus by piecing together many...

, since both a solar and a lunar eclipse are said to have occurred in the month of Sivan
Sivan
Sivan is the ninth month of the civil year and the third month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. It is a spring month of 30 days...

 that year, according to ancient records.

The fall of Babylon is taken as a fixed point in the discussion of the chronology of the ancient Near East
Chronology of the ancient Near East
The chronology of the Ancient Near East provides a framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Individual inscriptions and texts customarily record events in terms of a succession of officials or rulers, taking forms like "in the year X of king Y". Thus by piecing together many...

. Suggestions for its precise date vary by as much as 150 years, corresponding to the uncertainty regarding the length of the "Dark Age" of the ensuing Bronze Age collapse
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

, resulting in the shift of the entire Bronze Age chronology of Mesopotamia with regard to the chronology of Ancient Egypt. Possible dates for the sack of Babylon are:
  • ultra-short chronology: 1499 BC
  • short chronology: 1531 BC
  • middle chronology: 1595 BC
  • long chronology: 1651 BC

Kassite period




The Kassite dynasty was founded by Kandis or Gandash of Mari. The Kassites were a non Semitic people who originated in 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...

. The Kassites renamed Babylon "Kar-Duniash", and their rule lasted for 576 years. This foreign dominion offers a striking analogy to the roughly contemporary rule of the Hyksos
Hyksos
The Hyksos were an Asiatic people who took over the eastern Nile Delta during the twelfth dynasty, initiating the Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt....

 in ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. Most divine attributes ascribed to the Semitic kings of Babylonia disappeared at this time; the title of God was never given to a Kassite sovereign. However, Babylon continued to be the capital of the kingdom and the 'holy' city of western Asia, where the priests were all-powerful, and the only place where the right to inheritance of the short lived old Babylonian empire could be conferred.

Babylon was relatively weak under the Kassites, and spent long periods under Assyrian
Assyrian
-In antiquity:*ancient Assyria**the Old Assyrian period **the Middle Assyrian period **the Neo-Assyrian period *Either of two provinces of the Persian Empire:**Achaemenid Assyria...

 and Elamite domination and interference.

It's not exactly clear when Kassite rule of Babylon began. A king named Agum II
Agum II
Agum IIInscribed A-gu-um-ka-ak-ri-me in his eponymous inscription, elsewhere unattested. was possibly a Kassite ruler who may have become the 8th or more likely the 9th king of the third Babylonian dynasty sometime after Babylonia was defeated and sacked by the Hittite king Mursilis I in 1531 BC ,...

 ruled a state that extended from Iran to the middle Euphrates; 24 years after the Hittites took the sacred statue of Marduk, he recovered it and declared the god equal to the Kassite deity Shuqamuna. Southern Babylonia remained independent until Ulamburiash
Ulamburiash
Ulam Buriaš was a Kassite king of Sealand, which he conquered during the second half of 16th century BC and may have also become king of Babylon, possibly preceding or succeeding his brother, Kaštiliašu III....

 conquered it around 1450 BC and began making deals with the Egyptians in Syria. Karaindash
Karaindash
Karaindaš was one of the more prominent rulers of the Kassite dynasty and reigned towards the end of the 15th century, BC. An inscription on a tablet detailing building work calls him “Mighty King, King of Babylonia, King of Sumer and Akkad, King of the Kassites, King of Karuduniaš”.Tablet A 3519,...

 built a bas-relief temple in Uruk and Kurigalzu I
Kurigalzu I
Kurigalzu I , the seventeenth king of the Kassite dynasty that ruled over Babylon, was responsible for one of the most extensive and widespread building programs for which evidence has survived in Babylonia. The autobiography of Kurigalzu is one of the inscriptions which record that he was the son...

 (1415 BC-1390 BC) built a new capital named after himself. After him came Kadashman-Enlil I
Kadashman-Enlil I
Kadašman-Enlil ITypically rendered mka-dáš-man-dEN.LÍL in contemporary inscriptions. was a Kassite King of Babylon from ca. 1374 BC to 1360 BC , perhaps the 18th of the dynasty. He is known to have been a contemporary of Amenhotep III of Egypt, with whom he corresponded...

 (1390 BC-1375 BC) and Burna-Buriash II (1375 BC-1347 BC), who corresponded with the Egyptian rulers Amenhotep III
Amenhotep III
Amenhotep III also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty. According to different authors, he ruled Egypt from June 1386 to 1349 BC or June 1388 BC to December 1351 BC/1350 BC after his father Thutmose IV died...

 and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton) for the purposes of marriage and trade. Kurigalzu II
Kurigalzu II
Kurigalzu II was the twenty second king of the Kassite dynasty that ruled over Babylon. In more than twelve inscriptions, Kurigalzu names Burna-Buriaš II as his father...

 (1345 BC-1324 BC) lost a war with Assyria. His successors allied with the Hittites to stop Assyrian expansion, but Kashtiliash IV's (1242 BC-1235 BC) reign ended catastrophically as Assyria and Elam joined forces and sacked and burned Babylon. Kashtiliash himself was taken to Ashur as a prisoner of war, and Babylon did not begin to recover until the reigns of Adad-shuma-usur
Adad-shuma-usur
Adad-šuma-uṣur, dated very tentatively ca. 1216—1187 BC , was the thirty second king of the Third or Kassite dynasty of Babylon and the country contemporarily known as Karduniaš...

 (1218 BC-1189 BC) and Meli-Shipak II (1188 BC-1172 BC). War continued under subsequent kings as the Elamite ruler Shutruk-Nahunte conquered most of Babylonia and finally overthrew the Kassites. Poetical works have been found lamenting this disaster.

Despite the loss of territory, and evident reduction in literacy and culture, the Kassite dynasty was the longest-lived dynasty of Babylon, lasting until 1155 BC (short), when Babylon was conquered by Shutruk-Nahhunte of 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 re-conquered a few years later by Nebuchadrezzar I
Nebuchadrezzar I
Nebuchadnezzar I was the king of the Babylonian Empire from about 1125 BC to 1103 BC. He is considered to be the greatest king of the Dynasty of Pashe , a line which held the Babylonian throne through 12th century BCE...

, part of the larger Bronze Age collapse
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

.

Early Iron Age


Marduk-kabit-ahheshu
Marduk-kabit-ahheshu
Marduk-kabit-aḫḫēšu, "Marduk is the most important among his brothers", ca. 1157–1140 BC, was the founder of the 2nd Dynasty of Isin, which was to rule Babylon until around 1025 BC. He apparently acceded in the aftermath of the Elamite overthrow of the Kassite Dynasty. His name and length of reign...

 (1156 BC-1139 BC) established the Second Dynasty of Isin in a series of wars that continued under his successors. Nebuchadnezzar I (1124 BC-1103 BC) was the most famous ruler of this dynasty. He fought the Elamites and drove them from Babylonian territory, sacking Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

 and recovering the sacred statue of Marduk that had been carried off from Babylon. Shortly afterwards, the king of Elam was assassinated and his kingdom disintegrated. However, Nebuchadnezzar failed to extend Babylonian territory further, being thwarted by the Assyrians for control of formerly Hittite
Hittite
Hittite may refer to:*Hittites, ancient Anatolian people**Hittite language, ancient Indo-European language**History of the Hittites**Hittite mythology*Neo-Hittite states, Iron Age successors to the Hittite people located in modern Turkey and Syria...

 controlled territories in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. In the later years of his reign, he devoted himself to peaceful building projects. Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by his two sons. The second of them, Marduk-nadin-ahhe
Marduk-nadin-ahhe
Marduk-nādin-aḫḫē,mdmar-duk-nādin-áḫḫēmeš ca. 1099-1082 BC, was the 6th king of the 2nd Dynasty of Isin and the 4th Dynasty of Babylon.Babylonian King List C, line 6...

 (1098 BC-1081 BC) went to war with Assyria. Initial success in these conflicts gave way to defeat, and a terrible famine gripped Babylon, inviting attacks from Aramean tribes. Successive kings maintained peaceful relations with Assyria, but could not stem the repeated incursions from the Arameans and other nomads.

The native dynasty was deposed after 100 years, and between 1025 BC and 977 BC Babylonia was in a state of anarchy, with seven kings divided by three foreign dynasties ruling the land. Dynasty V (1025 BC-1004 BC) was 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...

, this dynasty was replaced by Dynasty VI (1003 BC-984 BC) which was Aramean and Dynasty VII (984 BC-977 BC) which was Elamite.

Native rule was restored in 978 BC with Dynasty VIII. Dynasty IX begins with Ninurta-kudurri-usur I, whose rule (from 943 BC).

From 911 BC with the founding of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Babylon found itself under Assyrian domination for the next three centuries.
In 729 BC, Babylon was fully incorporated into the Assyrian Empire by Tiglath-Pileser III
Tiglath-Pileser III
Tiglath-Pileser III was a prominent king of Assyria in the eighth century BC and is widely regarded as the founder of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Tiglath-Pileser III seized the Assyrian throne during a civil war and killed the royal family...

 and remained under Assyrian rule for over a century, until the revolt 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...

 in 620BC.

Neo-Babylonian Empire (Chaldean Era)


Through the centuries of Assyrian domination, Babylonia enjoyed a prominent status, or revolted at the slightest indication that it did not. The Assyrians always managed to restore Babylonian loyalty, however, whether through granting of increased privileges, or military force. That finally changed after 627 BC with the death of the last strong Assyrian ruler, Assurbanipal in 627 BC. Assyria descended into civil war, with three Assyrian kings briefly ruling Assyria and Babylon over the next 7 years. Babylonia took advantage of this and rebelled 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...

, a member of the Chaldean
Chaldean
Chaldean may refer to:* Historical Babylon, in particular in a Hellenistic context* Chaldea, "the Chaldees", Hellenistic designation for a part of Babylon...

 people, who had settled in southern Mesopotamia circa 1000 BC. In 620 BC Nabopolassar took control over Babylonia, and for the next 4 years had to contend with Assyrian armies encamped in Babylonia trying to unseat him. In 616 BC, he entered into alliance with Cyaxares
Cyaxares
Cyaxares, Cyaxares the Great or Hvakhshathra , the son of King Phraortes, was the first king of Media. According to Herodotus, Cyaxares, grandson of Deioces, had a far greater military reputation than his father or grandfather, therefore he is often being described as the first official Median...

, ruler of the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

 and Persians, 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....

 was sacked in 612 BC and 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...

 in 608 BC, and the seat of empire was transferred to Babylonia for the first time since Hammurabi
Hammurabi
Hammurabi Hammurabi Hammurabi (Akkadian from Amorite ʻAmmurāpi, "the kinsman is a healer", from ʻAmmu, "paternal kinsman", and Rāpi, "healer"; (died c...

.

Nabopolassar was followed by his son Nebuchadnezzar II, whose reign of 43 years made Babylon once more the mistress of much the civilized world, taking over a fair portion of the empire once ruled by its Assyrian brethren. His empire included the conquering of Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

 in 585 BC, as well as Aramea (Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

), Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Judah
Judah
The name Judah can refer to:*Judah , fourth son of the Biblical patriarch Jacob All later individuals, groups and places of this name are directly or indirectly derived from this Judah....

 and parts of 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...

 and Arabia. Only a small fragment of his annals has been discovered, relating to his invasion of Egypt in 567 BC, and referring to "Phut of the Ionians".

Of the reign of the last Babylonian king, Nabonidus
Nabonidus
Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556-539 BCE.-Historiography on Nabonidus:...

 (Nabu-na'id), and the conquest of Babylonia by Cyrus
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...

, there is a fair amount of information available. Nabonidus was not a Chaldean or Babylonian, but hailed from the last Assyrian capital of 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...

. Information regarding Nabonidus
Nabonidus
Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556-539 BCE.-Historiography on Nabonidus:...

 is chiefly derived from a chronological tablet containing the annals of Nabonidus, supplemented by another inscription of Nabonidus where he recounts his restoration of the temple of the Moon-god at 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...

; as well as by a proclamation of Cyrus issued shortly after his formal recognition as king of Babylonia. It was in the sixth year of Nabonidus (549 BC) that Cyrus, the Achaemenid Persian "king of Anshan
Anshan (Persia)
Anshan - History :Before 1973, when it was identified as Tall-i Malyan, Anshan had been assumed by scholars to be somewhere in the central Zagros mountain range....

" in Elam, revolted against his suzerain Astyages
Astyages
Astyages Astyages Astyages (spelled by Herodotus as Ἀστυάγης - Astyages; by Ctesias as Astyigas; by Diodorus as Aspadas; Akkadian: Ištumegu, was the last king of the Median Empire, r...

, "king of the Manda" or Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

, at Ecbatana
Ecbatana
Ecbatana is supposed to be the capital of Astyages , which was taken by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great in the sixth year of Nabonidus...

. Astyages' army betrayed him to his enemy, and Cyrus established himself at Ecbatana, thus putting an end to the empire of the Medes. Three years later Cyrus had become king of all Persia, and was engaged in a campaign in Assyria. Meanwhile, Nabonidus had established a camp in the desert of Arabia, near the southern frontier of his kingdom, leaving his son 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...

 (Belsharutsur) in command of the army.

In 539 BC Cyrus invaded Babylonia. A battle was fought at Opis
Opis
Opis was an ancient Babylonian city on the Tigris, not far from modern Baghdad. The precise location of Opis has not been established, but from the Akkadian and Greek texts, it was located on the east bank of the Tigris, near the Diyala River.-History:Opis is mentioned for the first time at the...

 in the month of June, where the Babylonians were defeated; and immediately afterwards Sippar
Sippar
Sippar was an ancient Near Eastern city on the east bank of the Euphrates river, located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah in Iraq's Babil Governorate, some 60 km north of Babylon and 30 km southeast of Baghdad....

 surrendered to the invader. Nabonidus fled to Babylon, where he was pursued by Gobryas, and on the 16th day of Tammuz
Tammuz
Tammuz Tammuz Tammuz (Syriac: ܬܡܘܙ, Hebrew: תַּמּוּז, Transliterated Hebrew: Tammuz, Tiberian Hebrew: Tammûz, Arabic: تمّوز Tammūz; Turkish: Temmuz Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D) "faithful or true son") was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation.-Ritual mourning:In...

, two days after the capture of Sippar, "the soldiers of Cyrus entered Babylon without fighting." Nabonidus was dragged from his hiding-place, where the services continued without interruption. Cyrus did not arrive until the 3rd of Marchesvan (October), Gobryas having acted for him in his absence. Gobryas was now made governor of the province of Babylon, and a few days afterwards the son of Nabonidus died. A public mourning followed, lasting six days, and Cambyses accompanied the corpse to the tomb.

Cyrus now claimed to be the legitimate successor of the ancient Babylonian kings and the avenger of Bel-Marduk, who was assumed to be wrathful at the impiety of Nabonidus in removing the images of the local gods from their ancestral shrines to his capital Babylon. Nabonidus, in fact, had excited a strong feeling against himself by attempting to centralize the religion of Babylonia in the temple of Merodach (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...

) at Babylon, and while he had thus alienated the local priesthoods, the military party despised him on account of his antiquarian tastes. He seemed to have left the defense of his kingdom to others, occupying himself with the more congenial work of excavating the foundation records of the temples and determining the dates of their builders.

The invasion of Babylonia by Cyrus was doubtless facilitated by the existence of a disaffected party in the state, as well as by the presence of foreign forced exiles like 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...

, who had been planted in the midst of the country. One of the first acts of Cyrus accordingly was to allow these exiles to return to their own homes, carrying with them the images of their god and their sacred vessels. The permission to do so was embodied in a proclamation, whereby the conqueror endeavored to justify his claim to the Babylonian throne. The feeling was still strong that none had a right to rule over western Asia until he had been consecrated to the office by Bel and his priests; and accordingly, Cyrus henceforth assumed the imperial title of "King of Babylon."

Persian Babylonia


Babylonia was absorbed into 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 539 BC.

A year before Cyrus' death, in 529 BC, he elevated his son Cambyses II in the government, making him king of Babylon, while he reserved for himself the fuller title of "king of the (other) provinces" of the empire. It was only when Darius Hystaspis acquired the Persian throne and ruled it as a representative of the Zoroastrian religion
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

, that the old tradition was broken and the claim of Babylon to confer legitimacy on the rulers of western Asia ceased to be acknowledged.

Immediately after Darius seized Persia, Babylonia briefly recovered its independence under Nidinta-Bel, who took the name of Nebuchadnezzar III
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 reigned from October 522 BC to August 520 BC, when Darius took the city by storm. A few years later, probably 514 BC, Babylon again revolted under the Armenian
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

 King Arakha; on this occasion, after its capture by the Persians, the walls were partly destroyed. E-Saggila, the great temple of Bel, however, still continued to be kept in repair and to be a center of Babylonian religious feelings.

It has long been maintained that the foundation of 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,...

 diverted the population to the new capital of Babylonia, and that the ruins of the old city became a quarry for the builders of the new seat of government, but the recent publication of the Babylonian Chronicles of the Hellenistic Period
Babylonian Chronicles
The Babylonian Chronicles are many series of tablets recording major events in Babylonian history. They are thus one of the first steps in the development of ancient historiography...

 has shown that urban life was still very much the same well into the Parthian age
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

.

The name of the satrapy was changed to Asuristan
Asuristan
Asuristan was the province of Assyria under the Sassanid Empire . It corresponds to the Babylonia province under the Parthian Empire.The province for the most part stretched from Mosul to Adiabene....

 in the Sassanid period. Excepting brief interludes of 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....

 conquest (Roman Assyria, Roman Mesopotamia; AD 116 to 118), and a longer period of Hellenistic rule (the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

, 330 to 250 BC), Mesopotamia remained under Persian control until the Islamic conquest in the 630s AD.

Babylonian culture


Bronze Age to Early Iron Age Mesopotamian culture is sometimes summarized as "Assyro-Babylonian", because of the close cultural interdependence of the two political centers. The term "Babylonia", especially in writings from around AD 1900, was formerly used to include Southern Mesopotamia's earliest history, and not only in reference to the later city-state of Babylon proper. This geographic usage of the name "Babylonia' has generally been replaced by the more accurate term Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

in more recent writing.

Art and Architecture



In Babylonia, an abundance of clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

, and lack of stone
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

, led to greater use of mudbrick
Mudbrick
A mudbrick is a firefree brick, made of a mixture of clay, mud, sand, and water mixed with a binding material such as rice husks or straw. They use a stiff mixture and let them dry in the sun for 25 days....

; Babylonian temples were massive structures of crude brick, supported by buttress
Buttress
A buttress is an architectural structure built against or projecting from a wall which serves to support or reinforce the wall...

es, the rain being carried off by drains. One such drain 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...

 was made of lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

. The use of brick led to the early development of the pilaster
Pilaster
A pilaster is a slightly-projecting column built into or applied to the face of a wall. Most commonly flattened or rectangular in form, pilasters can also take a half-round form or the shape of any type of column, including tortile....

 and column, and of fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es and enameled tiles. The walls were brilliantly coloured, and sometimes plated with zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

 or gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, as well as with tiles. Painted terra-cotta cones for torches were also embedded in the plaster. In Babylonia, in place of the bas-relief, there was greater use of three-dimensional figures—the earliest examples being the Statues of Gudea
Statues of Gudea
Twenty-seven statues of Gudea have been found so far . A-K were found during Ernest de Sarzec's excavations in the court of the palace of Adad-nadin-ahhe in Telloh . Statues M-Q come from clandestine excavations in Telloh in 1924; the rest come from the art trade, with unknown provenances and...

, that are realistic if somewhat clumsy. The paucity of stone in Babylonia made every pebble precious, and led to a high perfection in the art of gem-cutting.

Astronomy



Tablets dating back to the Old Babylonian period document the application of mathematics to the variation in the length of daylight over a solar year. Centuries of Babylonian observations of celestial phenomena are recorded in the series of cuneiform
Cuneiform
Cuneiform can refer to:*Cuneiform script, an ancient writing system originating in Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium BC*Cuneiform , three bones in the human foot*Cuneiform Records, a music record label...

 tablets known as the 'Enūma Anu Enlil'. The oldest significant astronomical text that we possess is Tablet 63 of 'Enūma Anu Enlil', the Venus tablet of Ammi-saduqa
Ammi-Saduqa
Ammi-Saduqa was a king of the First Dynasty of Babylon. Some 21 year-names survive for his reign, including the first 17...

, which lists the first and last visible risings of Venus over a period of about 21 years and is the earliest evidence that the phenomena of a planet were recognized as periodic. The oldest rectangular astrolabe
Astrolabe
An astrolabe is an elaborate inclinometer, historically used by astronomers, navigators, and astrologers. Its many uses include locating and predicting the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars, determining local time given local latitude and longitude, surveying, triangulation, and to...

 dates back to Babylonia ca. 1100 BC. The MUL.APIN
MUL.APIN
MUL.APIN is the conventional title given to a Babylonian compendium that deals with many diverse aspects of Babylonian astronomy and astrology....

, contains catalogues of stars and constellations as well as schemes for predicting heliacal rising
Heliacal rising
The heliacal rising of a star occurs when it first becomes visible above the eastern horizon for a brief moment just before sunrise, after a period of time when it had not been visible....

s and the settings of the planets, lengths of daylight measured by a water-clock, gnomon
Gnomon
The gnomon is the part of a sundial that casts the shadow. Gnomon is an ancient Greek word meaning "indicator", "one who discerns," or "that which reveals."It has come to be used for a variety of purposes in mathematics and other fields....

, shadows, and intercalation
Intercalation
Intercalation is the insertion of a leap day, week or month into some calendar years to make the calendar follow the seasons or moon phases. Lunisolar calendars may require intercalations of both days and months.- Solar calendars :...

s. The Babylonian GU text arranges stars in 'strings' that lie along declination circles and thus measure right-ascensions or time-intervals, and also employs the stars of the zenith, which are also separated by given right-ascensional differences.

Medicine



The oldest Babylonian texts on medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

 date back to the First Babylonian Dynasty
First Babylonian Dynasty
The chronology of the first dynasty of Babylonia is debated as there is a Babylonian King List A and a Babylonian King List B. In this chronology, the regnal years of List A are used due to their wide usage...

 in the first half of the 2nd millennium BC
2nd millennium BC
The 2nd millennium BC marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.Its first half is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. Indo-Iranian migration onto the Iranian plateau and onto the Indian subcontinent propagates the use of the chariot...

. The most extensive Babylonian medical text, however, is the Diagnostic Handbook written by the physician Esagil-kin-apli of Borsippa
Borsippa
Borsippa was an important ancient city of Sumer, built on both sides of a lake about southwest of Babylon on the east bank of the Euphrates. The site of Borsippa is in Babil Governorate, Iraq and now called Birs Nimrud, identifying the site with Nimrod...

, during the reign of the Babylonian king Adad-apla-iddina (1069-1046 BC).

Along with contemporary ancient Egyptian medicine
Ancient Egyptian medicine
The medicine of the ancient Egyptians is some of the oldest documented. From the beginnings of the civilization in the until the Persian invasion of 525 BC, Egyptian medical practice went largely unchanged and was highly advanced for its time, including simple non-invasive surgery, setting of...

, the Babylonians introduced the concepts of diagnosis
Medical diagnosis
Medical diagnosis refers both to the process of attempting to determine or identify a possible disease or disorder , and to the opinion reached by this process...

, prognosis
Prognosis
Prognosis is a medical term to describe the likely outcome of an illness.When applied to large statistical populations, prognostic estimates can be very accurate: for example the statement "45% of patients with severe septic shock will die within 28 days" can be made with some confidence, because...

, physical examination
Physical examination
Physical examination or clinical examination is the process by which a doctor investigates the body of a patient for signs of disease. It generally follows the taking of the medical history — an account of the symptoms as experienced by the patient...

, and prescription
Medical prescription
A prescription is a health-care program implemented by a physician or other medical practitioner in the form of instructions that govern the plan of care for an individual patient. Prescriptions may include orders to be performed by a patient, caretaker, nurse, pharmacist or other therapist....

s. In addition, the Diagnostic Handbook introduced the methods of therapy
Therapy
This is a list of types of therapy .* Adventure therapy* Animal-assisted therapy* Aquatic therapy* Aromatherapy* Art and dementia* Art therapy* Authentic Movement* Behavioral therapy* Bibliotherapy* Buteyko Method* Chemotherapy...

 and aetiology and the use of empiricism
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

, logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

 and rationality
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 in diagnosis, prognosis and therapy. The text contains a list of medical symptom
Symptom
A symptom is a departure from normal function or feeling which is noticed by a patient, indicating the presence of disease or abnormality...

s and often detailed empirical observation
Observation
Observation is either an activity of a living being, such as a human, consisting of receiving knowledge of the outside world through the senses, or the recording of data using scientific instruments. The term may also refer to any data collected during this activity...

s along with logical rules used in combining observed symptoms on the body of a patient
Patient
A patient is any recipient of healthcare services. The patient is most often ill or injured and in need of treatment by a physician, advanced practice registered nurse, veterinarian, or other health care provider....

 with its diagnosis and prognosis.

The symptoms and diseases of a patient were treated through therapeutic means such as bandage
Bandage
A bandage is a piece of material used either to support a medical device such as a dressing or splint, or on its own to provide support to the body; they can also be used to restrict a part of the body. During heavy bleeding or following a poisonous bite it is important to slow the flow of blood,...

s, cream
Cream (pharmaceutical)
A cream is a topical preparation usually for application to the skin. Creams for application to mucus membranes such as those of the rectum or vagina are also used. Creams may be considered pharmaceutical products as even cosmetic creams are based on techniques developed by pharmacy and...

s and pill
Pill
Pill or The Pill may refer to:* Pill , referring to anything small and round for a specific dose of medicine. The term is used colloquially in several ways:** A tablet or capsule which replaced dosing via pill...

s. If a patient could not be cured physically, the Babylonian physicians often relied on exorcism
Exorcism
Exorcism is the religious practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed...

 to cleanse the patient from any curse
Curse
A curse is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to some other entity—one or more persons, a place, or an object...

s. Esagil-kin-apli's Diagnostic Handbook was based on a logical set of axiom
Axiom
In traditional logic, an axiom or postulate is a proposition that is not proven or demonstrated but considered either to be self-evident or to define and delimit the realm of analysis. In other words, an axiom is a logical statement that is assumed to be true...

s and assumptions, including the modern view that through the examination and inspection
Inspection
An inspection is, most generally, an organized examination or formal evaluation exercise. In engineering activities inspection involves the measurements, tests, and gauges applied to certain characteristics in regard to an object or activity...

 of the symptoms of a patient, it is possible to determine the patient's disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

, its aetiology and future development, and the chances of the patient's recovery.

Esagil-kin-apli discovered a variety of illness
Illness
Illness is a state of poor health. Illness is sometimes considered another word for disease. Others maintain that fine distinctions exist...

es and diseases and described their symptoms in his Diagnostic Handbook. These include the symptoms for many varieties of epilepsy
Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

 and related ailments along with their diagnosis and prognosis. Later Babylonian medicine resembles early Greek medicine in many ways. In particular, the early treatises of the Hippocratic Corpus
Hippocratic Corpus
The Hippocratic Corpus , or Hippocratic Collection, is a collection of around 60 early Ancient Greek medical works strongly associated with the physician Hippocrates and his teachings...

 show the influence of late Babylonian medicine in terms of both content and form.

Literature



There were libraries in most towns and temples; an old Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian proverb averred that "he who would excel in the school of the scribes must rise with the dawn." Women as well as men learned to read and write, and in Semitic times, this involved knowledge of the extinct Sumerian language
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

, and a complicated and extensive syllabary
Syllabary
A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent syllables, which make up words. In a syllabary, there is no systematic similarity between the symbols which represent syllables with the same consonant or vowel...

.

A considerable amount of Babylonian literature was translated from Sumerian originals, and the language of religion and law long continued to be the old agglutinative language of Sumer. Vocabularies, grammars, and interlinear translations were compiled for the use of students, as well as commentaries on the older texts and explanations of obscure words and phrases. The characters of the syllabary were all arranged and named, and elaborate lists of them were drawn up.

There are many Babylonian literary works whose titles have come down to us. One of the most famous of these was the Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

, in twelve books, translated from the original Sumerian by a certain Sin-liqi-unninni, and arranged upon an astronomical principle. Each division contains the story of a single adventure in the career of Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh was the fifth king of Uruk, modern day Iraq , placing his reign ca. 2500 BC. According to the Sumerian king list he reigned for 126 years. In the Tummal Inscription, Gilgamesh, and his son Urlugal, rebuilt the sanctuary of the goddess Ninlil, in Tummal, a sacred quarter in her city of...

. The whole story is a composite product, and it is probable that some of the stories are artificially attached to the central figure.

Neo-Babylonian culture


The brief resurgence of a "Babylonian" identity in the 7th to 6th centuries BC was accompanied by a number of important cultural developments.

Astronomy


Among the sciences, 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 astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 still occupied a conspicuous place in Babylonian society. Astronomy was of old standing in Babylonia. The zodiac
Zodiac
In astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude which are centred upon the ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year...

 was a Babylonian invention of great antiquity; and eclipses of the sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 and moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 could be foretold. There are dozens of cuneiform records of original Mesopotamian eclipse observations.

Babylonian astronomy was the basis for much of what was done in Greek and Hellenistic astronomy
Greek astronomy
Greek astronomy is astronomy written in the Greek language in classical antiquity. Greek astronomy is understood to include the ancient Greek, Hellenistic, Greco-Roman, and Late Antiquity eras. It is not limited geographically to Greece or to ethnic Greeks, as the Greek language had become the...

, in classical Indian astronomy, in Sassanian
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...

, Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

n astronomy, in medieval Islamic astronomy
Islamic astronomy
Islamic astronomy or Arabic astronomy comprises the astronomical developments made in the Islamic world, particularly during the Islamic Golden Age , and mostly written in the Arabic language. These developments mostly took place in the Middle East, Central Asia, Al-Andalus, and North Africa, and...

, and in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

n and Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

an astronomy.
Neo-Babylonian astronomy can thus be considered the direct predecessor of much of ancient Greek mathematics and astronomy, which in turn is the historical predecessor of the European (Western) scientific revolution
Scientific revolution
The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

.

During the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Babylonian astronomers developed a new approach to astronomy. They began studying philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 dealing with the ideal nature of the early universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

 and began employing an internal logic
Consistency proof
In logic, a consistent theory is one that does not contain a contradiction. The lack of contradiction can be defined in either semantic or syntactic terms. The semantic definition states that a theory is consistent if and only if it has a model, i.e. there exists an interpretation under which all...

 within their predictive planetary systems. This was an important contribution to astronomy and the philosophy of science
Philosophy of science
The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

 and some scholars have thus referred to this new approach as the first scientific revolution. This new approach to astronomy was adopted and further developed in Greek and Hellenistic astronomy.

In Seleucid
Seleucid dynasty
The Seleucid dynasty or the Seleucidae was a Greek Macedonian royal family, founded by Seleucus I Nicator , which ruled the Seleucid Kingdom centered in the Near East and regions of the Asian part of the earlier Achaemenid Persian Empire during the Hellenistic period.-History:Seleucus was an...

 and 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 times, the astronomical reports were of a thoroughly scientific character; how much earlier their advanced knowledge and methods were developed is uncertain. The Babylonian development of methods for predicting the motions of the planets is considered to be a major episode in the history of astronomy.

The only Babylonian astronomer known to have supported a heliocentric
Heliocentrism
Heliocentrism, or heliocentricism, is the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around a stationary Sun at the center of the universe. The word comes from the Greek . Historically, heliocentrism was opposed to geocentrism, which placed the Earth at the center...

 model of planetary motion was Seleucus of Seleucia
Seleucus of Seleucia
Seleucus of Seleucia was a Hellenistic astronomer and philosopher. Coming from Seleucia on the Tigris, the capital of the Seleucid empire, or, alternatively, Seleukia on the Red Sea, he is best known as a proponent of heliocentrism and for his theory of the origin of tides.- Heliocentric theory...

 (b. 190 BC). Seleucus is known from the writings of Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

. He supported the heliocentric theory where the Earth rotated around its own axis which in turn revolved around the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

. According to Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

, Seleucus even proved the heliocentric system, but it is not known what arguments he used.

Mathematics



Babylonian mathematical texts are plentiful and well edited. In respect of time they fall in two distinct groups: one from the First Babylonian Dynasty
First Babylonian Dynasty
The chronology of the first dynasty of Babylonia is debated as there is a Babylonian King List A and a Babylonian King List B. In this chronology, the regnal years of List A are used due to their wide usage...

 period (1830-1531 BC), the other mainly Seleucid
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 from the last three or four centuries BC. In respect of content there is scarcely any difference between the two groups of texts. Thus Babylonian mathematics remained stale in character and content, with very little progress or innovation, for nearly two millennia.

The Babylonian system of mathematics was sexagesimal, or a base 60 numeral system
Numeral system
A numeral system is a writing system for expressing numbers, that is a mathematical notation for representing numbers of a given set, using graphemes or symbols in a consistent manner....

 (see: Babylonian numerals
Babylonian numerals
Babylonian numerals were written in cuneiform, using a wedge-tipped reed stylus to make a mark on a soft clay tablet which would be exposed in the sun to harden to create a permanent record....

). From this we derive the modern day usage of 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and 360 (60 x 6) degrees in a circle. The Babylonians were able to make great advances in mathematics for two reasons. First, the number 60 has many divisor
Divisor
In mathematics, a divisor of an integer n, also called a factor of n, is an integer which divides n without leaving a remainder.-Explanation:...

s (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, and 30), making calculations easier. Additionally, unlike the Egyptians and Romans, the Babylonians had a true place-value system, where digits written in the left column represented larger values (much as in our base-ten system: 734 = 7×100 + 3×10 + 4×1). Among the Babylonians' mathematical accomplishments were the determination of the square root of two correctly to seven places (YBC 7289 clay tablet). They also demonstrated knowledge of the Pythagorean theorem
Pythagorean theorem
In mathematics, the Pythagorean theorem or Pythagoras' theorem is a relation in Euclidean geometry among the three sides of a right triangle...

 well before Pythagoras, as evidenced by this tablet translated by Dennis Ramsey and dating to ca. 1900 BC:

4 is the length and 5 is the diagonal.
What is the breadth?
Its size is not known.
4 times 4 is 16. And 5 times 5 is 25.
You take 16 from 25 and there remains 9.
What times what shall I take in order to get 9?
3 times 3 is 9. 3 is the breadth.


The ner of 600 and the sar of 3600 were formed from the unit of 60, corresponding with a degree of the equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

. Tablets of squares and cubes, calculated from 1 to 60, have been found at Senkera, and a people acquainted with the sun-dial, the clepsydra, the lever and the pulley, must have had no mean knowledge of mechanics. A crystal lens, turned on the lathe
Lathe
A lathe is a machine tool which rotates the workpiece on its axis to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation with tools that are applied to the workpiece to create an object which has symmetry about an axis of rotation.Lathes are used in woodturning,...

, was discovered by 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:...

 at Nimrud
Nimrud
Nimrud is an ancient Assyrian city located south of Nineveh on the river Tigris in modern Ninawa Governorate Iraq. In ancient times the city was called Kalḫu. The Arabs called the city Nimrud after the Biblical Nimrod, a legendary hunting hero .The city covered an area of around . Ruins of the city...

 along with glass vases bearing the name of Sargon; this could explain the excessive minuteness of some of the writing on 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 tablets, and a lens may also have been used in the observation of the heavens.

The Babylonians might have been familiar with the general rules for measuring the areas. They measured the circumference of a circle as three times the diameter and the area as one-twelfth the square of the circumference, which would be correct if π were estimated as 3. The volume of a cylinder was taken as the product of the base and the height, however, the volume of the frustum of a cone or a square pyramid was incorrectly taken as the product of the height and half the sum of the bases. Also, there was a recent discovery in which a tablet used π as 3 and 1/8. The Babylonians are also known for the Babylonian mile, which was a measure of distance equal to about seven miles today. This measurement for distances eventually was converted to a time-mile used for measuring the travel of the Sun, therefore, representing time. (Eves, Chapter 2)

Philosophy


The origins of Babylonian philosophy can be traced back to early Mesopotamian wisdom literature
Wisdom literature
Wisdom literature is the genre of literature common in the Ancient Near East. This genre is characterized by sayings of wisdom intended to teach about divinity and about virtue...

, which embodied certain philosophies of life, particularly ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

, in the forms of dialectic
Dialectic
Dialectic is a method of argument for resolving disagreement that has been central to Indic and European philosophy since antiquity. The word dialectic originated in Ancient Greece, and was made popular by Plato in the Socratic dialogues...

, dialogs, epic poetry
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

, folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

, hymn
Hymn
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

s, lyrics
Lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

, prose
Prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

, and proverb
Proverb
A proverb is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim...

s. Babylonian reasoning and rationality
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 developed beyond empirical
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

 observation.

It is possible that Babylonian philosophy had an influence on Greek
Greek philosophy
Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BCE and continued through the Hellenistic period, at which point Ancient Greece was incorporated in the Roman Empire...

, particularly Hellenistic philosophy
Hellenistic philosophy
Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy that was developed in the Hellenistic civilization following Aristotle and ending with the beginning of Neoplatonism.-Pythagoreanism:...

. The Babylonian text Dialog of Pessimism contains similarities to the agonist
Agonist
An agonist is a chemical that binds to a receptor of a cell and triggers a response by that cell. Agonists often mimic the action of a naturally occurring substance...

ic thought of the sophists
Sophism
Sophism in the modern definition is a specious argument used for deceiving someone. In ancient Greece, sophists were a category of teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching aretê — excellence, or virtue — predominantly to young statesmen and...

, the Heraclitean
Heraclitus
Heraclitus of Ephesus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom...

 doctrine of contrasts, and the dialogs of Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, as well as a precursor to the maieutic
Maieutics
Maieutics is a pedagogical method based on the idea that the truth is latent in the mind of every human being due to innate reason but has to be "given birth" by answering intelligently proposed questions . The word is derived from the Greek "μαιευτικός", pertaining to midwifery.- Possible origin...

 Socratic method
Socratic method
The Socratic method , named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas...

 of Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

. The Milesian philosopher Thales
Thales
Thales of Miletus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Miletus in Asia Minor, and one of the Seven Sages of Greece. Many, most notably Aristotle, regard him as the first philosopher in the Greek tradition...

 is also known to have studied philosophy in Mesopotamia.

Legacy


Babylonia, and particularly its capital city Babylon, has long held a place in Abrahamic religions as a symbol of excess and dissolute power. Many references are made to Babylon 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...

, both literally and allegorically. The mentions in the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 tend to be historical or prophetic, while New Testament references
Babylon (New Testament)
Babylon occurs in the Christian New Testament both with a literal and a figurative meaning. The famous ancient city, located near Baghdad, was a complete unpopulated ruin by 275 BC, well before the time of the New Testament...

 are more likely figurative, or cryptic references possibly to pagan Rome, or some other archetype. The legendary 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...

 and the 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...

 are seen as symbols of luxurious and arrogant power respectively.
A main festival
Festival
A festival or gala is an event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival....

 for Babylonians was the Mishtkaru Buylshu, used to ward off evil spirits. Many Babylonians, mostly males, attended this festival at a young age. At this festival, priests would kill, or sacrifice, an animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

, usually an ox, in order to make the gods happy. In return, the gods would presumably give permission to the people at the festival to each obtain an amulet
Amulet
An amulet, similar to a talisman , is any object intended to bring good luck or protection to its owner.Potential amulets include gems, especially engraved gems, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants and animals; even words said in certain occasions—for example: vade retro satana—, to...

 that would protect them for the rest of their lives.

See also


  • Ancient Near East
    Ancient Near East
    The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia , ancient Egypt, ancient Iran The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia...

  • Assyriology
    Assyriology
    Assyriology is the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of ancient Mesopotamia and the related cultures that used cuneiform writing. The field covers the Akkadian sister-cultures of Assyria and Babylonia, together with their cultural predecessor; Sumer...

  • Babylonian law
    Babylonian law
    Archaeological material for the study of Babylonian law is singularly extensive. So-called "contracts" exist in the thousands, including a great variety of deeds, conveyances, bonds, receipts, accounts, and most important of all, actual legal decisions given by the judges in the law courts...

  • Babylonian numerals
    Babylonian numerals
    Babylonian numerals were written in cuneiform, using a wedge-tipped reed stylus to make a mark on a soft clay tablet which would be exposed in the sun to harden to create a permanent record....

  • Babylonian calendar
    Babylonian calendar
    The Babylonian calendar was a lunisolar calendar with years consisting of 12 lunar months, each beginning when a new crescent moon was first sighted low on the western horizon at sunset, plus an intercalary month inserted as needed by decree. The calendar is based on a Sumerian precedecessor...

  • Chaldean mythology
  • Chronology of Babylonia and Assyria
  • Cuneiform script
    Cuneiform script
    Cuneiform script )) is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. Emerging in Sumer around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium , cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs...

  • Geography of Mesopotamia
    Geography of Mesopotamia
    The Geography of Mesopotamia, encompassing its ethnology and history, centred around the two great rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. While the southern is flat and marshy; the near approach of the two rivers to one another, at a spot where the undulating plateau of the north sinks suddenly into the...

  • History of Sumer
    History of Sumer
    The history of Sumer, taken to include the prehistoric Ubaid and Uruk periods, spans the 5th to 3rd millennia BC, ending with the downfall of the Third Dynasty of Ur around 2004 BC, followed by a transition period of Amorite states before the rise of Babylonia in the 18th century BC. The first...

  • Kings of Babylon
  • Social life in Babylonia and Assyria

Many of these articles were originally based on information from the 1911 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

.

Further reading

  • Le Journal des Médecines Cunéiformes (published twice-yearly from 2003 onwards)

External links