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Babylonia, facts about Babylonia

Babylon was a city on the river Euphrates, founded by Semitic settlers from the deserts. Quarrels between the Sumerian cities gave the Babylonians their opportunity. They began to conquer the neighboring tribes about 2000 B.C.

A bronze figurine from Southern Babylonia Ishtar - gate - Babylonia facts

Babylonia, facts about Babylonia

A bronze figurine from Southern Babylonia. It bears the inscription of Warad-Sin, king of Larsa (1834-1823 B.C.). It is 11 inches high

A reconstruction, in the Berlin State Museum, of the Ishtar - gate of Babylon. It is decorated with glazed-brick reliefs of fabulous beasts. Ishtar was a goddess to whom temples were built in most Babylonian cities

The most famous Babylonian king, Hammurabi (1711-1669 B.C.), was the first to establish his rule over the whole of Mesopotamia (the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates). This area now became known as Babylonia. Hammurabi drew up a code of law for his people which had a strong influence on the Mosaic Law of the Hebrews. It covered an enormous range of subjects: property, military service, banking, the legal rights of women and children and many other topics. Hammurabi was a poet and scholar and built up an enormous library. Babylonian records were written in cuneiform on clay tablets. Cuneiform takes its name from the wedge-shaped marks which the reed stylus (pen) made on the clay. Babylonian weights and measures, their currency and their language spread all over the Middle East.

Law and order were maintained from Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean, to which the Babylonian Empire stretched. Beligion was very important in Babylonia. The priests were wealthy and the king himself claimed to be a god. After Hammurabi's death various tribes within the Babylonian Empire revolted and after the sack of Babylon in 1515 B.C. the Kassites founded a new ruling dynasty (family). In 1097 B.C. the Assyrians (see Assyrians), a fierce neighboring tribe, conquered Babylon; but their empire did not last long. By 626 B.C. a new Chaldean dynasty had been established in Babylon. This empire reached its peak under Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 B.C.), who built temples, palaces and the 'hanging gardens of Babylon', one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World.

The Chaldeans were skilled mathematicians and astronomers. Their detailed records of the movements of the planets and eclipses were studied and explained by Greek scientists. This empire in turn was conquered by the Medes and Persians. By 540 B.C. the whole of Babylonia was ruled by Cyrus, king of Persia. Babylon's ruins lie in southern Iraq.

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