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''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *
Kassite The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1595 BC and until c. 1155 BC ( middle chronology). The endonym of the Kassites was probably Galzu, although they ...
: ''Karanduniash'', ''Karduniash'' , image = Gate of Babylon.jpg , image_size=250px , alt = A partial view of the ruins of Babylon , caption = A partial view of the ruins of Babylon. , map_type = Near East#Iraq , relief = yes , map_alt = Babylon lies in the center of Iraq , coordinates = , location =
Hillah Hillah ( ar, ٱلْحِلَّة ''al-Ḥillah''), also spelled Hilla, is a city in central Iraq on the Hilla branch of the Euphrates River, south of Baghdad. The population is estimated at 364,700 in 1998. It is the capital of Babylon Province and ...
,
Babil Governorate Babil Governorate or Babylon Province ( ar, محافظة بابل ''Muḥāfaẓa Bābil'') is a governorate A governorate is an administrative division of a country. It is headed by a governor. As English-speaking nations tend to call regions a ...
,
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country in ...

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

Mesopotamia
, type = Settlement , part_of =
Babylonia Babylonia () was an Ancient history, ancient Akkadian language, Akkadian-speaking state (polity), state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and Syria). A small Amorites, Amorite-ruled state emerged in 1894 ...
, length = , width = , area = , height = , builder = , material = , built = , abandoned = , epochs = , cultures = Akkadian, Amorite, Kassite, Assyrian, Chaldean, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sasanian , dependency_of = , occupants = , event = , excavations = , archaeologists =
Hormuzd Rassam Hormuzd Rassam ( ar, هرمز رسام; syr, ܗܪܡܙܕ ܪܣܐܡ; 182616 September 1910), was an Assyrians in Iraq, Iraqi-Assyrian Assyriologist who made a number of important archaeological discoveries from 1877 to 1882, including the clay tabl ...

Hormuzd Rassam
,
Robert Koldewey Robert Johann Koldewey (10 September 1855 – 4 February 1925) was a German archaeologist, famous for his in-depth excavation of the ancient city of Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβ ...

Robert Koldewey
, Recent Iraqi archaeologists , condition = Ruined , ownership = Public , management = , website = , notes = , embedded= Babylon was the ancient city where some of the most influential empires of the ancient world ruled. It was the capital of the
Babylonian empire Babylonia () was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; Syriac language, Classical Syriac: ...
and it was considered to be a center of commerce, art, and learning and is estimated to have been the largest early city in the world, perhaps the first to reach a population above 200,000.Tertius Chandler. ''Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth: An Historical Census'' (1987), St. David's University Press (). . See
Historical urban community sizes This article lists historical urban community sizes based on the estimated populations of selected human settlements from 7000 BC – AD 1875, organized by archaeological periods. Many of the figures are uncertain, especially in ancient times. ...
.
Presently it is an archeological site and has only several thousand residents and a few villages within the archeological boundaries, although constructions have increased rapidly in recent years with some encroaching on the ruins. The archeological site lies approximately 85 kilometers (53 mi) south of present-day
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of Iraq Iraq ( ar, ٱلْعِرَاق, '; ku, عێراق '), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق '), is a ...

Baghdad
in
Hillah Hillah ( ar, ٱلْحِلَّة ''al-Ḥillah''), also spelled Hilla, is a city in central Iraq on the Hilla branch of the Euphrates River, south of Baghdad. The population is estimated at 364,700 in 1998. It is the capital of Babylon Province and ...
,
Babil Governorate Babil Governorate or Babylon Province ( ar, محافظة بابل ''Muḥāfaẓa Bābil'') is a governorate A governorate is an administrative division of a country. It is headed by a governor. As English-speaking nations tend to call regions a ...
,
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country in ...

Iraq
, and its boundaries have been based on the perimeter of the ancient outer city walls, an area of about 1054.3 hectares. Babylon was inscribed by
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organ ...

UNESCO
as a World Heritage site and receives thousands of visitors each year, almost all of whom are Iraqis.


Name

The spelling ''Babylon'' is the french representation of
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
''Babylṓn'' (), derived from the native ( Babylonian) ', meaning "gate of the god(s)". The
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is name ...
spelling was (KA₂.DIG̃IR.RA). This would correspond to the Sumerian phrase ''kan dig̃irak''. The sign 𒆍 (KA₂) is the logogram for "gate", 𒀭 ( DIG̃IR) means "god", and 𒊏 (RA) is a sign which phonetic value is used to represent the
coda Coda or CODA may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Coda'' (1987 film), an Australian horror film about a serial killer, made for television * ''Coda'' (2019 film), a Canadian drama film starring Patrick Stewart, Katie Holmes, a ...
of the word ''dig̃ir'' (-r) followed by the genitive suffix ''-ak''. The final 𒆠 ( ) is a determinative and it indicates that the previous signs are to be understood as a place name.
Archibald Sayce The Rev. Archibald Henry Sayce (25 September 18454 February 1933), was a pioneer British Assyriologist and linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, ...
, writing in the 1870s, postulated that the Semitic name was a loan-translation of the original name. However, the "gate of god" interpretation is increasingly viewed as a Semitic
folk etymology Folk etymology (also known as popular etymology, analogical reformation, reanalysis, morphological reanalysis or etymological reinterpretation) is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familia ...
to explain an unknown original non-Semitic placename. I. J. Gelb in 1955 argued that the original n or ''Babilla'', of unknown meaning and origin, as there were other similarly named places in
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclo ...

Sumer
, and there are no other examples of Sumerian place-names being replaced with Akkadian translations. He deduced that it later transformed into Akkadian ', and that the Sumerian name ''Kan-dig̃irak'' was a loan translation of the Semitic folk etymology, and not the original name. The re-translation of the Semitic name into Sumerian would have taken place at the time of the "Neo-Sumerian"
Third Dynasty of Ur The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century BC ( middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians consider to h ...
. (''Bab- Il''). In the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a fe ...

Hebrew Bible
, the name appears as ''Babel'' ( he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'', Tib.  ''Bāḇel''; syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāwēl'', arc, בבל Bāḇel; in ar, بَابِل ''Bābil''), interpreted in the
Book of Genesis The Book of Genesis,, "''Bərēšīṯ''", "In hebeginning" the first book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the ...
to mean "
confusion In medicine, confusion is the quality or state of being bewildered or unclear. The term "acute mental confusion"
confusion
", from the verb ''bilbél'' (, "to confuse"). The modern English verb, ' ("to speak foolish, excited, or confusing talk"), is popularly thought to derive from this name but there is no direct connection. Ancient records in some situations use "Babylon" as a name for other cities, including cities like
Borsippa Borsippa (Sumerian: BAD.SI.(A).AB.BAKI; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Camb ...
within Babylon's sphere of influence, and
Nineveh Nineveh (; ar, نَيْنَوَىٰ '; syr, ܢܝܼܢܘܹܐ, Nīnwē; akk, ) was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq. It is located on the eastern bank of the Tigris R ...
for a short period after the Assyrian sack of Babylon.


Geography

The ancient city, built along both banks of the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). Or ...
river, had steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. The remains of the city are in present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq, about south of Baghdad, comprising a large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris. The site at Babylon consists of a number of mounds covering an area of about , oriented north to south, along the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). Or ...
to the west. Originally, the river roughly bisected the city, but the course of the river has since shifted so that most of the remains of the former western part of the city are now inundated. Some portions of the city wall to the west of the river also remain. Only a small portion of the ancient city (3% of the area within the inner walls; 1.5% of the area within the outer walls; 0.1% at the depth of Middle and Old Babylon) has been excavated. Known remains include: * Kasr – also called Palace or Castle, it is the location of the
Neo-Babylonian The Neo-Babylonian Empire, also known as the Second Babylonian Empire and historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last of the Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; S ...
ziggurat
Etemenanki Etemenanki ( Sumerian: "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth") was a ziggurat A ziggurat (; Akkadian: ', D-stem of ' 'to protrude, to build high', cognate with other semitic languages like Hebrew ''zaqar'' (זָקַר) 'protrude') is a ...
and lies in the center of the site. * Amran Ibn Ali – the highest of the mounds at to the south. It is the site of
Esagila Babylonian clay brick from sixth century BC cuneiform inscription "Nebuchadnezzar support Esagila temple and temple Ezida ( Borsippa). Eldest son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon. Hecht Museum Haifa">Hecht_Museum.html" ;"title="Borsippa). Elde ...
, a temple of
Marduk Marduk (Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Co ...
that also contained shrines to Ea and
Nabu Nabu ( akk, cuneiform: 𒀭𒀝 Nabû syr, ܢܵܒܼܘܼ\ܢܒܼܘܿ\ܢܵܒܼܘܿ Nāvū or Nvō or Nāvō) is the ancient Mesopotamian patron god of literacy Literacy is popularly understood as an ability to read and write in at least ...

Nabu
. * Homera – a reddish-colored mound on the west side. Most of the
Hellenistic The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium The Battle of Actium was a naval battle in t ...

Hellenistic
remains are here. * Babil – a mound about high at the northern end of the site. Its bricks have been subject to looting since ancient times. It held a palace built by Nebuchadnezzar. Archaeologists have recovered few artifacts predating the Neo-Babylonian period. The water table in the region has risen greatly over the centuries, and artifacts from the time before the
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire, also known as the Second Babylonian Empire and historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last of the Mesopotamian empires to be ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with Nabopolassar's coronation as ...

Neo-Babylonian Empire
are unavailable to current standard archaeological methods. Additionally, the Neo-Babylonians conducted significant rebuilding projects in the city, which destroyed or obscured much of the earlier record. Babylon was pillaged numerous times after revolting against foreign rule, most notably by the
Hittites The Hittites () were an Anatolian peoples, Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara before 1750 BC, then the Kültepe, Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centered on H ...

Hittites
and Elamites in the 2nd millennium, then by the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform: ''mat Aš-šur KI'', "Country of the Assur, city of Ashur (god), god Aššur"; also phonetically ''mat Aš-šur'') was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC, and became ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
and the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of ...

Achaemenid Empire
in the 1st millennium. Much of the western half of the city is now beneath the river, and other parts of the site have been mined for commercial building materials. Only the Koldewey expedition recovered artifacts from the Old Babylonian period. These included 967 clay tablets, stored in private houses, with Sumerian literature and lexical documents. Nearby ancient settlements are Kish,
Borsippa Borsippa (Sumerian: BAD.SI.(A).AB.BAKI; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Camb ...
,
Dilbat Dilbat (modern Tell ed-Duleim or Tell al-Deylam, Iraq) was an ancient Sumerian minor ''Tell (archaeology), tell'' (hill city) located southeast from Babylon on the eastern bank of the Western Euphrates in modern-day Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Al- ...
, and
Kutha Kutha, Cuthah, Cuth or Cutha ( ar, كُوثَا, Sumerian: Gudua), modern Tell Ibrahim ( ar, تَلّ إِبْرَاهِيم), formerly known as Kutha Rabba ( ar, كُوثَىٰ رَبَّا), is an archaeological site An archaeological site is ...
.
Marad Marad (Sumerian: Marda, modern Tell Wannat es-Sadum or Tell as-Sadoum, Iraq) was an ancient Sumerian '' tell'' (hill city). Marad was situated on the west bank of the then western branch of the Upper Euphrates River west of Nippur in modern ...
and
Sippar Sippar (Sumerian language, Sumerian: , Zimbir) was an ancient Near Eastern Sumerian and later Babylonian city on the east bank of the Euphrates river. Its ''Tell (archaeology), tell'' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near Yusufiyah ...
were in either direction along the Euphrates.


Sources

The main sources of information about Babylon—excavation of the site itself, references in
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is name ...
texts found elsewhere in Mesopotamia, references in the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek ...

Bible
, descriptions in other classical writing (especially by
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It ...
), and second-hand descriptions (citing the work of
Ctesias Ctesias (; grc, Κτησίας, ''Ktēsíās'', fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias the Cnidian or Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, who lived during the time that ...
and
Berossus Berossus, " Bel is his shepherd"; el, Βήρωσσος) was a Hellenistic The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as sig ...
)—present an incomplete and sometimes contradictory picture of the ancient city, even at its peak in the sixth century BC. Babylon was described, perhaps even visited, by a number of classical historians including
Ctesias Ctesias (; grc, Κτησίας, ''Ktēsíās'', fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias the Cnidian or Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, who lived during the time that ...
,
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It ...
,
Quintus Curtius Rufus Quintus Curtius Rufus () was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian, probably of the 1st century, author of his only known and only surviving work, ''Historiae Alexandri Magni'', "Histories of Alexander the Great", or more fully ''Historiarum Alexandri ...
,
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pres ...

Strabo
, and
Cleitarchus Cleitarchus or Clitarchus ( el, Κλείταρχος ''Klitarchos'') was one of the historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person ...
. These reports are of variable accuracy and some of the content was politically motivated, but these still provide useful information. Historical knowledge of early Babylon must be pieced together from epigraphic remains found elsewhere, such as at
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka, was an ancient city of Sumer (and later of Babylonia) situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern Samawah, Muthanna Governorate, Al-Muthannā, ...
,
Nippur Nippur ( Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010.] Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''Nibbur'') was an ancient Su ...
,
Sippar Sippar (Sumerian language, Sumerian: , Zimbir) was an ancient Near Eastern Sumerian and later Babylonian city on the east bank of the Euphrates river. Its ''Tell (archaeology), tell'' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near Yusufiyah ...
, Mari, Syria, Mari, and Haradum.


Early references

The earliest known mention of Babylon as a small town appears on a clay tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad (2334–2279 BC) of the Akkadian Empire. References to the city of Babylon can be found in Akkadian and Sumerian literature from the late third millennium BC. One of the earliest is a tablet describing the Akkadian king Šar-kali-šarri laying the foundations in Babylon of new temples for Annūnı̄tum and Ilaba. Babylon also appears in the administrative records of the
Third Dynasty of Ur The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century BC ( middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians consider to h ...
, which collected in-kind tax payments and appointed an '' ensi'' as local governor.Wilfred G. Lambert, "Babylon: Origins"; in Cancik-Kirschbaum et al. (2011), pp. 71–76. The so-called Weidner Chronicle (also known as ''ABC 19'') states that
Sargon of Akkad Sargon of Akkad (; akk, 𒊬𒊒𒄀 ''Šar-ru-gi''), also known as Sargon the Great, was the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer. ...

Sargon of Akkad
( in the
short chronology The short chronology is one of the chronologies of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 1728–1686 BC and the sack of Babylon to 1531 BC. The absolute 2nd millennium BC dates resulting from these re ...
) had built Babylon "in front of Akkad" (ABC 19:51). A later chronicle states that Sargon "dug up the dirt of the pit of Babylon, and made a counterpart of Babylon next to Akkad". (ABC 20:18–19). Van de Mieroop has suggested that those sources may refer to the much later Assyrian king
Sargon II Sargon II ( Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: ''Šarru-kīn'', probably meaning "the faithful king" or "the legitimate king") was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from the downfall of his predecessor Shalmaneser V in 722 BC to his death in battle in 705 ...
of the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform: ''mat Aš-šur KI'', "Country of the Assur, city of Ashur (god), god Aššur"; also phonetically ''mat Aš-šur'') was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC, and became ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
rather than Sargon of Akkad.


Classical dating

Ctesias Ctesias (; grc, Κτησίας, ''Ktēsíās'', fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias the Cnidian or Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, who lived during the time that ...
, quoted by
Diodorus Siculus Diodorus Siculus (; grc-koi, Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης ''Diodoros Sikeliotes'';  1st century BC) or Diodorus of Sicily was an ancient Greece, ancient Greek historian. He is known for writing the monumental universal history ''Bi ...
and in
George SyncellusGeorge Syncellus ( el, Γεώργιος Σύγκελλος, ''Georgios Synkellos''; died after 810) was a Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic. He had lived many years in Palestine (probably in the Old Lavra of Saint Chariton or Souka, near Tekoa) ...
's ''Chronographia'', claimed to have access to manuscripts from Babylonian archives, which date the founding of Babylon to 2286 BC, under the reign of its first king, Belus. A similar figure is found in the writings of
Berossus Berossus, " Bel is his shepherd"; el, Βήρωσσος) was a Hellenistic The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as sig ...
, who, according to Pliny, stated that astronomical observations commenced at Babylon 490 years before the Greek era of
Phoroneus In Greek mythology, Phoroneus (; Ancient Greek: Φορωνεύς means 'bringer of a price') was a culture-hero of the Argolid, fire-bringer, primordial king of Argos. Family Phoroneus was the son of the river god Inachus and either Melia (consor ...
, indicating 2243 BC.
Stephanus of Byzantium Stephanus or Stephan of Byzantium ( la, Stephanus Byzantinus; grc-gre, Στέφανος Βυζάντιος, ''Stéphanos Byzántios''; centuryAD), was a Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzant ...

Stephanus of Byzantium
wrote that Babylon was built 1002 years before the date given by
Hellanicus of Lesbos Hellanicus (or Hellanikos) of Lesbos ( Greek: , ''Ἑllánikos ὁ Lésvios''), also called Hellanicus of Mytilene ( Greek: , ''Ἑllánikos ὁ Mutilēnaῖos'') was an ancient Greek logographer who flourished during the latter half of the 5th ce ...
for the siege of Troy (1229 BC), which would date Babylon's foundation to 2231 BC. All of these dates place Babylon's foundation in the
23rd century BC The 23rd century BC was a century A century is a period of 100 years. Centuries are numbered ordinally in English and many other languages. The word ''century'' comes from the Latin ''centum'', meaning ''one hundred''. ''Century'' is sometimes a ...
; however, cuneiform records have not been found to correspond with these classical (post-cuneiform) accounts.


History

By around the 19th century BC, much of southern Mesopotamia was occupied by Amorites, nomadic tribes from the northern Levant who were Northwest Semitic speakers, unlike the native Akkadians of southern Mesopotamia and Assyria, who spoke East Semitic languages, East Semitic. The Amorites at first did not practice agriculture like more urbanized Mesopotamians, preferring a semi-nomadic lifestyle, herding sheep, goats and other livestock. Over time, Amorite grain merchants rose to prominence and established their own independent dynasties in several south Mesopotamian city-states, most notably Isin, Larsa, Eshnunna, Lagash, and later, founding Babylon as a state.


Old Babylonian period

File:Cylinder Seal, Old Babylonian, formerly in the Charterhouse Collection 09.jpg, Linescan camera image of the cylinder seal above (reversed to resemble an impression)., alt= According to a Babylonian date list, Amorite rule in Babylon began () with a chieftain named Sumu-abum, who declared independence from the neighboring city-state of Kazallu. Sumu-la-El, whose dates may be concurrent with those of Sumu-abum, is usually given as the progenitor of the First Babylonian dynasty. Both are credited with building the walls of Babylon. In any case, the records describe Sumu-la-El's military successes establishing a regional sphere of influence for Babylon. Babylon was initially a minor city-state, and controlled little surrounding territory; its first four Amorite rulers did not assume the title of king. The older and more powerful states of Assyria, Elam, Isin, and Larsa overshadowed Babylon until it became the capital of Hammurabi's short-lived empire about a century later. Hammurabi (r. 1792–1750 BC) is famous for codifying the laws of Babylonia into the ''Code of Hammurabi''. He conquered all of the cities and city states of southern Mesopotamia, including Isin, Larsa, Ur,
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka, was an ancient city of Sumer (and later of Babylonia) situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern Samawah, Muthanna Governorate, Al-Muthannā, ...
,
Nippur Nippur ( Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010.] Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''Nibbur'') was an ancient Su ...
, Lagash, Eridu, Kish, Adab (city), Adab, Eshnunna, Akshak, Akkad (city), Akkad, Shuruppak, Bad-tibira,
Sippar Sippar (Sumerian language, Sumerian: , Zimbir) was an ancient Near Eastern Sumerian and later Babylonian city on the east bank of the Euphrates river. Its ''Tell (archaeology), tell'' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near Yusufiyah ...
, and Girsu, coalescing them into one kingdom, ruled from Babylon. Hammurabi also invaded and conquered Elam to the east, and the kingdoms of Mari, Syria, Mari and Ebla to the northwest. After a protracted struggle with the powerful Assyrian king Ishme-Dagan of the Old Assyrian Empire, he forced his successor to pay tribute late in his reign, spreading Babylonian power to Assyria's Hattians, Hattian and Hurrian colonies in Asia Minor. After the reign of Hammurabi, the whole of southern Mesopotamia came to be known as
Babylonia Babylonia () was an Ancient history, ancient Akkadian language, Akkadian-speaking state (polity), state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and Syria). A small Amorites, Amorite-ruled state emerged in 1894 ...
, whereas the north had already coalesced centuries before into Assyria. From this time, Babylon supplanted
Nippur Nippur ( Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010.] Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''Nibbur'') was an ancient Su ...
and Eridu as the major religious centers of southern Mesopotamia. Hammurabi's empire destabilized after his death. Assyrians defeated and drove out the Babylonians and Amorites. The far south of Mesopotamia broke away, forming the native Sealand Dynasty, and the Elamites appropriated territory in eastern Mesopotamia. The Amorite dynasty remained in power in Babylon, which again became a small city state. Texts from Old Babylon often include references to Shamash, the sun-god of Sippar, treated as a supreme deity, and
Marduk Marduk (Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Co ...
, considered as his son. Marduk was later elevated to a higher status and Shamash lowered, perhaps reflecting Babylon's rising political power.


Middle Babylon

In 1595 BC the city was overthrown by the Hittite Empire from Asia Minor. Thereafter, Kassites from the Zagros Mountains of northwestern Ancient Iran captured Babylon, ushering in a dynasty that lasted for 435 years, until 1160 BC. Babylonia, Babylon weakened during the Kassites, Kassite era, and as a result, the Kassite Babylon was paying the tribute to the Pharaoh of Egypt, Thutmose III, after His Eighth campaign against Mitanni. The city was renamed Karanduniash during this period. Kassite Babylon eventually became subject to the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–1053 BC) to the north, and Elam to the east, with both powers vying for control of the city. The Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta I took the throne of Babylon in 1235 BC. By 1155 BC, after continued attacks and annexing of territory by the Assyrians and Elamites, the Kassites were deposed in Babylon. An Akkadian south Mesopotamian dynasty then ruled for the first time. However, Babylon remained weak and subject to domination by Assyria. Its ineffectual native kings were unable to prevent new waves of foreign West Semitic settlers from the deserts of the Levant, including the Arameans and Suteans in the 11th century BC, and finally the Chaldeans in the 9th century BC, entering and appropriating areas of Babylonia for themselves. The Arameans briefly ruled in Babylon during the late 11th century BC.


Assyrian period

During the rule of the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform: ''mat Aš-šur KI'', "Country of the Assur, city of Ashur (god), god Aššur"; also phonetically ''mat Aš-šur'') was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC, and became ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
(911–609 BC), Babylonia was under constant Assyrian domination or direct control. During the reign of Sennacherib of Assyria, Babylonia was in a constant state of revolt, led by a chieftain named Marduk-apla-iddina II, Merodach-Baladan, in alliance with the Elamites, and suppressed only by the complete destruction of the city of Babylon. In 689 BC, its walls, temples and palaces were razed, and the rubble was thrown into the Arakhtu, the sea bordering the earlier Babylon on the south. The destruction of the religious center shocked many, and the subsequent murder of Sennacherib by two of his own sons while praying to the god Nisroch was considered an act of atonement. Consequently, his successor, Esarhaddon hastened to rebuild the old city and make it his residence for part of the year. After his death, Babylonia was governed by his elder son, the Assyrian prince Shamash-shum-ukin, who eventually started a civil war in 652 BC against his own brother, Ashurbanipal, who ruled in
Nineveh Nineveh (; ar, نَيْنَوَىٰ '; syr, ܢܝܼܢܘܹܐ, Nīnwē; akk, ) was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq. It is located on the eastern bank of the Tigris R ...
. Shamash-shum-ukin enlisted the help of other peoples against Assyria, including Elam, Persia, the Chaldeans, and Suteans of southern Mesopotamia, and the Canaanites and Arabs dwelling in the deserts south of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
. Once again, Babylon was besieged by the Assyrians, starved into surrender and its allies were defeated. Ashurbanipal celebrated a "service of reconciliation", but did not venture to "take the hands" of Bel (mythology), Bel. An Assyrian governor named Kandalanu was appointed as ruler of the city. Ashurbanipal did collect texts from Babylon for inclusion in his extensive Library of Ashurbanipal, library at Ninevah. After the death of Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian empire was destabilized due to a series of internal civil wars throughout the reigns of the Assyrian kings Ashur-etil-ilani, Sin-shumu-lishir, and Sinsharishkun. Eventually, Babylon, like many other parts of the Near East, took advantage of the chaos within Assyria to free itself from Assyrian rule. In the subsequent overthrow of the Assyrian Empire by an alliance of peoples, the Babylonians saw another example of divine vengeance.


Neo-Babylonian Empire

Under Nabopolassar, a previously Chaldean King, Babylon escaped Assyrian rule, and in an alliance with Cyaxares, king of the Medes who was his son in law together with Cimmerians, finally destroyed the Assyrian Empire between 612 BC and 605 BC. Babylon thus became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian (sometimes called the Chaldean) Empire. With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, particularly during the reign of his son Nebuchadnezzar II (604–561 BC). Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including the
Etemenanki Etemenanki ( Sumerian: "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth") was a ziggurat A ziggurat (; Akkadian: ', D-stem of ' 'to protrude, to build high', cognate with other semitic languages like Hebrew ''zaqar'' (זָקַר) 'protrude') is a ...
ziggurat, and the construction of the Ishtar Gate—the most prominent of eight gates around Babylon. A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate is located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, said to have been built for his homesick wife, Amyitis. Whether the gardens actually existed is a matter of dispute. German archaeologist
Robert Koldewey Robert Johann Koldewey (10 September 1855 – 4 February 1925) was a German archaeologist, famous for his in-depth excavation of the ancient city of Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβ ...

Robert Koldewey
speculated that he had discovered its foundations, but many historians disagree about the location. Stephanie Dalley has argued that the hanging gardens were actually located in the Assyrian capital,
Nineveh Nineveh (; ar, نَيْنَوَىٰ '; syr, ܢܝܼܢܘܹܐ, Nīnwē; akk, ) was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq. It is located on the eastern bank of the Tigris R ...
. Nebuchadnezzar is also notoriously associated with the Babylonian exile of the Jews, the result of an imperial technique of pacification, used also by the Assyrians, in which ethnic groups in conquered areas were Resettlement policy of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, deported en masse to the capital. According to the Hebrew Bible, he Siege of Jerusalem (587 BCE), destroyed Solomon's Temple and Babylonian captivity, exiled the Jews to Babylon. The defeat was also recorded in the Babylonian Chronicles.


Persian conquest

In 539 BC, the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, with a military engagement known as the Battle of Opis. Babylon's walls were considered impenetrable. The only way into the city was through one of its many gates or through the Euphrates River. Metal grates were installed underwater, allowing the river to flow through the city walls while preventing intrusion. The Persians devised a plan to enter the city via the river. During a Babylonian national feast, Cyrus' troops upstream diverted the Euphrates River, allowing Cyrus' soldiers to enter the city through the lowered water. The Persian army conquered the outlying areas of the city while the majority of Babylonians at the city center were unaware of the breach. The account was elaborated upon by
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It ...
; or see and is also mentioned in parts of the Hebrew Bible. Herodotus also described a moat, an enormously tall and broad wall cemented with bitumen and with buildings on top, and a hundred gates to the city. He also writes that the Babylonians wear turbans and perfume and bury their dead in honey, that they practice ritual prostitution, and that three tribes among them Piscivore, eat nothing but fish. The hundred gates can be considered a reference to Homer, and following the pronouncement of Archibald Henry Sayce in 1883, Herodotus' account of Babylon has largely been considered to represent Greek folklore rather than an authentic voyage to Babylon. However, recently, Dalley and others have suggested taking Herodotus' account seriously. According to Books of Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 36 of the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a fe ...

Hebrew Bible
, Cyrus later issued a decree permitting captive people, including the Jews, to return to their own lands. The text found on the Cyrus Cylinder has traditionally been seen by biblical scholars as corroborative evidence of this policy, although the interpretation is disputed because the text identifies only Mesopotamian sanctuaries but makes no mention of Jews, Jerusalem, or Judea. Under Cyrus and the subsequent Persian king Darius I, Babylon became the capital city of the 9th Satrapy (Babylonia in the south and Athura in the north), as well as a center of learning and scientific advancement. In Achaemenid Persia, the ancient Babylonian arts of astronomy and mathematics were revitalized, and Babylonian scholars completed maps of constellations. The city became the administrative capital of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire and remained prominent for over two centuries. Many important archaeological discoveries have been made that can provide a better understanding of that era. The early Persian kings had attempted to maintain the religious ceremonies of
Marduk Marduk (Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Co ...
, who was the most important god, but by the reign of Darius III, over-taxation and the strain of numerous wars led to a deterioration of Babylon's main shrines and canals, and the destabilization of the surrounding region. There were numerous attempts at rebellion and in 522 BC (Nebuchadnezzar III), 521 BC (Nebuchadnezzar IV) and 482 BC (Bel-shimani and Shamash-eriba) native Babylonian kings briefly regained independence. However, these revolts were quickly repressed and Babylon remained under Persian rule for two centuries, until Alexander the Great's entry in 331 BC.


Hellenistic period

In October of 331 BC, Darius III, the last Achaemenid king of the Persian Empire, was defeated by the forces of the Ancient Macedonians, Ancient Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great, Alexander at the Battle of Gaugamela. Under Alexander, Babylon again flourished as a center of learning and commerce. However, following Alexander's death in 323 BC in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, his empire was divided amongst his generals, the Diadochi, and Wars of the Diadochi, decades of fighting soon began. The constant turmoil virtually emptied the city of Babylon. A tablet dated 275 BC states that the inhabitants of Babylon were transported to Seleucia, where a palace and a temple (
Esagila Babylonian clay brick from sixth century BC cuneiform inscription "Nebuchadnezzar support Esagila temple and temple Ezida ( Borsippa). Eldest son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon. Hecht Museum Haifa">Hecht_Museum.html" ;"title="Borsippa). Elde ...
) were built. With this deportation, Babylon became insignificant as a city, although more than a century later, sacrifices were still performed in its old sanctuary.


Renewed Persian rule

Under the Parthian Empire, Parthian and Sassanid Empires, Babylon (like Assyria) became a province of these Persian Empires for nine centuries, until after AD 650. Although it was captured briefly by Trajan in AD 116 to be part of the newly conquered province of Mesopotamia (Roman province), Mesopotamia, his successor Hadrian relinquished his conquests east of the Euphrates river, which became again the Roman Empire's eastern boundary. However, Babylon maintained its own culture and people, who spoke varieties of Aramaic, and who continued to refer to their homeland as Babylon. Examples of their culture are found in the Babylonian Talmud, the Gnostic Mandaeism, Mandaean religion, East Syrian Rite, Eastern Rite Christianity and Manichaeism, the religion of the philosopher Mani (prophet), Mani. Christianity was introduced to Mesopotamia in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and Babylon was the seat of a Bishop of the Church of the East until well after the Early Muslim conquests, Arab/Islamic conquest. Coins from the Parthian, Sasanian and Arabic periods excavated in Babylon demonstrate the continuity of settlement there.


Muslim conquest

In the mid-7th century, Mesopotamia was invaded and settled by the expanding Muslim Empire, and a period of Islamization followed. Babylon was dissolved as a province and Aramaic and Church of the East Christianity eventually became marginalized. Ibn Hawqal (10th century) and the Arab scholar, al-Qazwini (13th century), describe Babylon (Babil) as a small village. The latter described a well referred to as the ‘Dungeon of Daniel’ that was visited by Christians and Jews during holidays. The grave-shrine of Amran ibn Ali was visited by Muslims. Babylon is mentioned in medieval Arabic writings as a source of bricks,Olof Pedersén,
Excavated and Unexcavated Libraries in Babylon
", in Cancik-Kirschbaum et al. (2011), pp. 47–67.
said to have been used in cities from Baghdad to Basra.Julian E. Reade, "Disappearance and rediscovery"; in Finkel & Seymour, eds., ''Babylon'' (2009); pp. 13–30. European travellers, in many cases, could not discover the city's location, or mistook Fallujah for it. Benjamin of Tudela, a 12th-century traveller, mentions Babylon, but it is not clear if he went there. Others referred to
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of Iraq Iraq ( ar, ٱلْعِرَاق, '; ku, عێراق '), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق '), is a ...

Baghdad
as Babylon or New Babylon and described various structures encountered in the region as the Tower of Babel. Pietro della Valle travelled to the village of Babil in Babylon in the 17th century and noted the existence of both baked and dried mudbricks cemented with bitumen.


Modern era

The eighteenth century saw an increasing flow of travellers to Babylon, including Carsten Niebuhr and Pierre-Joseph de Beauchamp, as well as measurements of its latitude. Beauchamp's memoir, published in English translation in 1792, provoked the British East India Company to direct its agents in Baghdad and Basra to acquire Mesopotamian relics for shipment to London. By 1905, there were several villages in Babylon, one of which was Qwaresh with about 200 households located within the boundaries of the ancient inner city walls. The village grew due to the need for laborers during the German Oriental Society excavations (1899-1917).


Excavation and research

Claudius Rich, working for the British East India Company in Baghdad, excavated Babylon in 1811–12 and again in 1817. Captain Robert Mignan explored the site briefly in 1827 and in 1829 he completed a map of Babylon which includes the location of several villages. William Loftus (archaeologist), William Loftus visited there in 1849. Austen Henry Layard made some soundings during a brief visit in 1850 before abandoning the site. Fulgence Fresnel, Julius Oppert and Felix Thomas heavily excavated Babylon from 1852 to 1854. However, much of their work was lost in the Dur-Sharrukin#The Qurnah Disaster, Qurnah Disaster when a transport ship and four rafts sank on the Tigris river in May 1855. They had been carrying over 200 crates of artifacts from various excavation missions when they were attacked by Tigris river pirates near Al-Qurnah. Recovery efforts, assisted by the Ottoman authorities and British Residence in Baghdad, loaded the equivalent of 80 crates on a ship for Le Havre in May 1856. Few antiquities from the Fresnel mission would make it to France. Subsequent efforts to recover the lost antiquities from the Tigris, including a Japanese expedition in 1971-2, have been largely unsuccessful. Sir Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baronet, Henry Rawlinson and George Smith (Assyriologist), George Smith worked there briefly in 1854. The next excavation was conducted by
Hormuzd Rassam Hormuzd Rassam ( ar, هرمز رسام; syr, ܗܪܡܙܕ ܪܣܐܡ; 182616 September 1910), was an Assyrians in Iraq, Iraqi-Assyrian Assyriologist who made a number of important archaeological discoveries from 1877 to 1882, including the clay tabl ...

Hormuzd Rassam
on behalf of the British Museum. Work began in 1879, continuing until 1882, and was prompted by widespread looting of the site. Using industrial scale digging in search of artifacts, Rassam recovered a large quantity of cuneiform tablets and other finds. The zealous excavation methods, common at the time, caused significant damage to the archaeological context. Many tablets had appeared on the market in 1876 before Rassam's excavation began. A team from the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, German Oriental Society led by
Robert Koldewey Robert Johann Koldewey (10 September 1855 – 4 February 1925) was a German archaeologist, famous for his in-depth excavation of the ancient city of Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβ ...

Robert Koldewey
conducted the first scientific Excavation (archaeology), archaeological excavations at Babylon. The work was conducted daily from 1899 until 1917. The primary efforts of the dig involved the temple of
Marduk Marduk (Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Co ...
and the processional way leading up to it, as well as the city wall. Artifacts, including pieces of the Ishtar Gate and hundreds of recovered tablets, were sent back to Germany, where Koldewey's colleague Walter Andrae reconstructed them into displays at the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin. The German archaeologists fled before Middle-Eastern theatre of World War I, oncoming British troops in 1917, and again, many objects went missing in the following years. Further work by the German Archaeological Institute was conducted by Heinrich J. Lenzen in 1956 and Hansjörg Schmid in 1962. Lenzen's work dealt primarily with the
Hellenistic The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium The Battle of Actium was a naval battle in t ...

Hellenistic
theatre, and Schmid focused on the temple ziggurat
Etemenanki Etemenanki ( Sumerian: "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth") was a ziggurat A ziggurat (; Akkadian: ', D-stem of ' 'to protrude, to build high', cognate with other semitic languages like Hebrew ''zaqar'' (זָקַר) 'protrude') is a ...
. The site was excavated in 1974 on behalf of the Turin Centre for Archaeological Research and Excavations in the Middle East and Asia and the Iraqi-Italian Institute of Archaeological Sciences. The focus was on clearing up issues raised by re-examination of the old German data. Additional work in 1987–1989 concentrated on the area surrounding the Ishara and Ninurta temples in the Shu-Anna city-quarter of Babylon. During the restoration efforts in Babylon, the Iraqi State Organization for Antiquities and Heritage conducted extensive research, excavation and clearing, but wider publication of these archaeological activities has been limited. Indeed, most of the known tablets from all modern excavations remain unpublished.


Iraqi government

The site of Babylon has been a cultural asset to
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country in ...

Iraq
since the creation of the modern Iraqi state in 1921. The site was officially protected and excavated by the Mandatory Iraq, Kingdom of Iraq under British Administration, which later became the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq, and its successors: the Arab Federation, the Iraqi Republic (1958-1968), Iraqi Republic, Ba'athist Iraq (also officially called the Iraqi Republic), and the Republic of Iraq. Babylonian images periodically appear on Iraqi postcards and stamps. In the 1960s, a replica of the Ishtar Gate and a reconstruction of Ninmakh Temple were built on site. On 14 February 1978, the Ba'athist government of Iraq under Saddam Hussein began the "Archaeological Restoration of Babylon Project": reconstructing features of the ancient city atop its ruins. These features included the Southern Palace of Nebuchandnezzar, with 250 rooms, five courtyards, and a 30-meter entrance arch. The project also reinforced the Processional Way, the Lion of Babylon (statue), Lion of Babylon, and an amphitheater constructed in the city's Hellenistic era. In 1982, the government minted a set of seven coins displaying iconic features of Babylon. A Babylon International Festival was held in September 1987, and annually thereafter until 2002 (excepting 1990 and 1991), to showcase this work. The proposed reconstruction of the Hanging Gardens and the great ziggurat never took place.John Curtis, "The Site of Babylon Today"; in Finkel & Seymour, eds., ''Babylon'' (2009); pp. 213–220.John Curtis, "The Present Condition of Babylon"; in Cancik-Kirschbaum et al. (2011). Hussein installed a portrait of himself and Nebuchadnezzar at the entrance to the ruins and inscribed his name on many of the bricks, in imitation of Nebuchadnezzar. One frequent inscription reads: "This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq". These bricks became sought after as collectors' items after Hussein's downfall. Similar projects were conducted at
Nineveh Nineveh (; ar, نَيْنَوَىٰ '; syr, ܢܝܼܢܘܹܐ, Nīnwē; akk, ) was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq. It is located on the eastern bank of the Tigris R ...
, Nimrud, Assur and Hatra, to demonstrate the magnificence of Arab achievement. In the 1980's, Saddam Hussein completely removed the village of Qwaresh, displacing its residents. He later constructed a modern palace in that area called Saddam Hill over some of the old ruins, in the pyramidal style of a ziggurat. In 2003, he intended the construction of a Aerial lift, cable car line over Babylon, but plans were halted by the 2003 invasion of Iraq.


US and Polish occupation

Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the area around Babylon came under the control of US troops, before being handed over to Polish involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Polish forces in September 2003. US forces under the command of General James T. Conway of the I Marine Expeditionary Force were criticized for building the military base "Camp Alpha", with a helipad and other facilities on ancient Babylonian ruins during the Iraq War. US forces have occupied the site for some time and have caused irreparable damage to the archaeological record. In a report of the British Museum's Near East department, Dr. John Curtis described how parts of the archaeological site were levelled to create a landing area for helicopters, and parking lots for heavy vehicles. Curtis wrote of the occupation forces: A US military spokesman claimed that engineering operations were discussed with the "head of the Babylon museum". The head of the Iraqi State Board for Heritage and Antiquities, Donny George, said that the "mess will take decades to sort out" and criticised Polish Armed Forces, Polish troops for causing "terrible damage" to the site. Poland resolved in 2004 to place the city under Iraq control, and commissioned a report titled ''Report Concerning the Condition of the Preservation of the Babylon Archaeological Site'', which it presented at a meeting on 11–13 December 2004. In 2005, the site was handed over to the Iraqi Ministry of Culture. In April 2006, Colonel John Coleman, former Chief of Staff for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, offered to issue an apology for the damage done by military personnel under his command. However, he also claimed that the US presence had deterred far greater damage by other looters. An article published in April 2006 stated that UN officials and Iraqi leaders have plans to restore Babylon, making it into a cultural center. Two museums and a library, containing replicas of artifacts and local maps and reports, were raided and destroyed.


Present-day

In May 2009, the provincial government of Babil Governorate, Babil reopened the site to tourists and over 35,000 people visited in 2017. An oil pipeline runs through an outer wall of the city. On 5 July 2019, the site of Babylon was inscribed as a
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organ ...

UNESCO
World Heritage Site. Thousands of people reside in Babylon within the perimeter of the ancient outer city walls, and communities in and around them are "rapidly developing from compact, dense settlements to sprawling suburbia despite laws restricting constructions". It is not uncommon for locals to build houses out of river reeds. Modern villages include Zwair West, Sinjar Village, Qwaresh, and Al-Jimjmah among which the first two are better off economically. Most residents primarily depend on daily wage earning or have government jobs in Hillah, Al-Hillah, while few cultivate dates, citrus fruits, figs, fodder for livestock and limited cash crops, although income from the land alone is not enough to sustain a family. Both Shi’a and Sunni Muslims live in Sinjar village with mosques for both groups. The State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) is the main authority responsible for the conservation of the archeological site. They are assisted by Antiquity and Heritage Police and maintain a permanent presence there. The World Monuments Fund is also involved in research and conservation. The SBAH Provincial Inspectorate Headquarters is located within the boundaries of the ancient inner city walls on the east side and several staff members and their families reside in subsidized housing in this area.


Cultural importance

Before modern archaeological excavations in Mesopotamia, the appearance of Babylon was largely a mystery, and typically envisioned by Western artists as a hybrid between ancient Egyptian, classical Greek, and contemporary Ottoman culture. Due to Babylon's historical significance as well as references to it in the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek ...

Bible
, the word "Babylon" in various languages has acquired a generic meaning of a large, bustling diverse city. Examples include: * ''Babylon'' is used in reggae music as a concept in the Rastafari movement#Zion vs. Babylon, Rastafari belief system, denoting the materialistic capitalist world, or any form of imperialist evil. It is believed that Babylon actively seeks to exploit and oppress the people of the world, specifically people of African descent. It is believed by Rastafarians that Babylon attempts to forbid the smoking of ganja because this sacred herb opens minds to the truth. * Freemasonry, which has its own versions of biblical legends, classically considered Babylon as its birthplace and a haven for science and knowledge. * ''Babylon 5'' – a science fiction series set on a futuristic space station that acts as a trading and diplomatic nexus between many different cultures. Many stories focus on the theme of different societies and cultures uniting, respecting differences, and learning from each other rather than fighting or looking on each other with prejudice and suspicion. * ''Babylon A.D.'' takes place in New York City, decades in the future. * Babilonas (Lithuanian language, Lithuanian name for "Babylon") is a real estate development in Lithuania *"Chromatica, Babylon" is a song by Lady Gaga that uses allusions to ancient Biblical themes to discuss gossip.


Biblical narrative

In the
Book of Genesis The Book of Genesis,, "''Bərēšīṯ''", "In hebeginning" the first book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the ...
(), Babel (Babylon) is described as founded by Nimrod along with
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka, was an ancient city of Sumer (and later of Babylonia) situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern Samawah, Muthanna Governorate, Al-Muthannā, ...
, Akkad (city), Akkad and perhaps Calneh—all of them in Shinar ("Calneh" is now sometimes translated not as a proper name but as the phrase "all of them"). Another story is given in Genesis 11, which describes a united human race, speaking one language, migrating to Shinar to establish a city and tower—the Tower of Babel. God halts construction of the tower by scattering humanity across the earth and confusing their communication so they are unable to understand each other in the same language. Babylon appears throughout the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a fe ...

Hebrew Bible
, including several prophecies and in descriptions of the destruction of Jerusalem and subsequent Babylonian captivity, most of which are found in the Book of Daniel. These include the episode of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and Belshazzar's feast. The Book of Jeremiah says that Babylon will “never again be inhabited”, that “no one will live there, nor will anyone of mankind reside in it” and that it will be a land in which “no one of mankind passes." Since Babylon is currently populated, debate exists among Christian factions as to whether Jeremiah's words will have a literal fulfillment after a future revival as a bustling city or whether his words are merely allegorical. In Jewish tradition, Babylon symbolizes an oppressor against which righteous believers must struggle. In Christianity, Babylon symbolizes worldliness and evil. Prophecies sometimes symbolically link the kings of Babylon with Lucifer. Nebuchadnezzar II, sometimes conflated with Nabonidus, appears as the foremost ruler in this narrative. The Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible refers to Babylon many centuries after it ceased to be a major political center. The city is personified by the "Whore of Babylon", riding on a The Beast (Revelation), scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns, and drunk on the blood of the righteous. Some scholars of apocalyptic literature believe this Babylon (New Testament), New Testament "Babylon" to be a dysphemism for the Roman Empire. Other scholars suggest that Babylon in the book of Revelation has a symbolic significance that extends beyond mere identification with the first century Roman empire.Craig R. Koester, ''Revelation'' (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2014), 506, 684


See also

* Cities of the ancient Near East * Jehoiachin's Rations Tablets * List of Kings of Babylon * Tomb of Daniel


Notes


References


Sources

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


Further reading

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


External links

*


Site Photographs of Babylon – Oriental Institute

Encyclopædia Britannica, Babylon

1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, Babylon

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


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