Babylon was a key kingdom in ancient Mesopotamia from the 18th to 6th centuries BC. The city was built on the Euphrates river and divided in equal parts along its left and right banks, with steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. Babylon was originally a small Akkadian town dating from the period of the Akkadian Empire c. 2300 BC.
The town became part of a small independent city-state with the rise of the First Babylonian dynasty in the 19th century BC. After the Amorite king Hammurabi created a short-lived empire in the 18th century BC, he built Babylon up into a major city and declared himself its king, and southern Mesopotamia became known as Babylonia and Babylon eclipsed Nippur as its holy city. The empire waned under Hammurabi's son Samsu-iluna and Babylon spent long periods under Assyrian, Kassite and Elamite domination. After being destroyed and then rebuilt by the Assyrians, Babylon became the capital of the short lived Neo-Babylonian Empire from 609 to 539 BC. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although a number of scholars believe these were actually in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh. After the fall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the city came under the rule of the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, Roman, and Sassanid empires.
It has been estimated that Babylon was the largest city in the world c. 1770 – c. 1670 BC, and again c. 612 – c. 320 BC. It was perhaps the first city to reach a population above 200,000. Estimates for the maximum extent of its area range from 890 to 900 hectares (2,200 acres).
The main sources of information about Babylon—excavation of the site itself, references in cuneiform texts found elsewhere in Mesopotamia, references in the Bible, descriptions in classical writing (especially by Herodotus), and second-hand descriptions (citing the work of Ctesias and Berossus)—present an incomplete and sometimes contradictory picture of the ancient city even at its peak in the sixth century BC.
A partial view of the ruins of Babylon from Saddam Hussein's Summer Palace
Shown within Iraq
|Location||Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq|
|Area||9 km2 (3.5 sq mi)|
|Founded||c. 1894 BCE|
|Abandoned||c. AD 1000|
|Cultures||Akkadian, Amorite, Kassite, Assyrian, Chaldean, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sasanian|
|Archaeologists||Hormuzd Rassam, Robert Koldewey|
Archibald Sayce, writing in the 1870s, considered Bab-ilu or Bab-ili to be the translation of an earlier Sumerian (formerly thought to be in the obsolete "Turanian" language-family) name Ca-dimirra, meaning "gate of god", based on the characters KAN4 DIĜIR.RAKI (corresponding to the Sumerian phrase kan diĝirak "god's gate") or perhaps based on other characters.
According to Professor Dietz-Otto Edzard, the city was originally called Babilla, but by the time of the Third Dynasty of Ur, through a process of etymological speculation, had become Bāb-ili(m) meaning "gate of god" or "god's gate" (Bab-Il). The "gate of god" translation is increasingly viewed as a folk etymology to explain an unknown original non-Semitic placename. Linguist I.J. Gelb suggested in 1955 that Babil/Babilla is the basis of the city name, of unknown meaning and origin, as there were other similarly-named places in Sumer, and there are no other examples of Sumerian place-names being replaced with Akkadian translations. He deduced that it later transformed into Akkadian Bāb-ili(m), and that the Sumerian Ka-dig̃irra was a later translation of that, rather than vice versa.
In the Bible, the name appears as Babel (Hebrew: בָּבֶל Bavel, Tib. בָּבֶל Bāḇel; Classical Syriac: ܒܒܠ Bāwēl, Aramaic: בבל Babel; in Arabic: بَابِل Bābil), interpreted in the Book of Genesis to mean "confusion", from the verb bilbél (בלבל, "to confuse"). The modern English verb, to babble ("to speak meaningless words"), 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 within Babylon's sphere of influence, and Nineveh for a short period after the Assyrian sack of Babylon.
The remains of the city are in present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq, about 85 kilometers (53 mi) 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 2 by 1 kilometer (1.24 mi × 0.62 mi), oriented north to south, along the Euphrates 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:
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 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 and Elamites in the 2nd millennium, then by the Neo-Assyrian Empire and the 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.
Information on the Neo-Babylonian city is available from archaeological excavations and from classical sources. Babylon was described, perhaps even visited, by a number of classical historians including Ctesias, Herodotus, Quintus Curtius Rufus, Strabo, and Cleitarchus. These reports are of variable accuracy and some of the content was politically motivated, but these still provide useful information.
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, which collected in-kind tax payments and appointed an ensi as local governor.
The so-called Weidner Chronicle (also known as ABC 19) states that Sargon of Akkad (c. 23d century BC in the short chronology) 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 of the Neo-Assyrian Empire rather than Sargon of Akkad.
Ctesias, quoted by Diodorus Siculus and in George Syncellus'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, who according to Pliny, stated that astronomical observations commenced at Babylon 490 years before the Greek era of Phoroneus, indicating 2243 BC. Stephanus of Byzantium wrote that Babylon was built 1002 years before the date given by Hellanicus of Lesbos 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; however, cuneiform records have not been found to correspond with these classical (post-cuneiform) accounts.
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. The Amorites at first did not practice agriculture like more advanced Mesopotamians, preferring a semi-nomadic lifestyle, herding sheep. 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.
According to a Babylonian date list, Amorite[a] rule in Babylon began (c. 19th or 18th century BC) 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, Nippur, Lagash, Eridu, Kish, Adab, Eshnunna, Akshak, Akkad, Shuruppak, Bad-tibira, Sippar, and Girsu, coalescing them into one kingdom, ruled from Babylon. Hammurabi also invaded and conquered Elam to the east, and the kingdoms of 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 Hattian and Hurrian colonies in Asia Minor.
After the reign of Hammurabi, the whole of southern Mesopotamia came to be known as Babylonia, whereas the north had already coalesced centuries before into Assyria. From this time, Babylon supplanted Nippur 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, considered as his son. Marduk was later elevated to a higher status and Shamash lowered, perhaps reflecting Babylon's rising political power
In 1595 BC[b] the city was overthrown by the Hittite Empire from Asia Minor. Thereafter, Kassites from the Zagros Mountains of north western Ancient Iran captured Babylon, ushering in a dynasty that lasted for 435 years, until 1160 BC. 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.
During the rule of the 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 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. 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 during 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. Shamash-shum-ukin enlisted the help of other peoples subject to Assyria, including Elam, Persia, Chaldeans, and Suteans of southern Mesopotamia, and the Canaanites and Arabs dwelling in the deserts south of 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. An Assyrian governor named Kandalanu was appointed as ruler of the city. Ashurbanipal did collect texts from Babylon for inclusion in his extensive library at Ninevah.
After the death of Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian empire destabilized due to a series of internal civil wars throughout the reigns of Assyrian kings Ashur-etil-ilani, Sin-shumu-lishir and Sinsharishkun. Eventually Babylon, like many other parts of the near east, took advantage of the anarchy 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.
Under Nabopolassar, a previously unknown Chaldean chieftain, Babylon escaped Assyrian rule, and in an alliance with Cyaxares, king of the Medes and Persians together with the Scythians and Cimmerians, finally destroyed the Assyrian Empire between 612 BC and 605 BC. Babylon thus became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian (sometimes and possibly erroneously 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 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 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.
Nebuchandnezzar 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 deported en masse to the capital.
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 diverted the Euphrates River upstream, 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 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 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's 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's account seriously.)
According to 2 Chronicles 36 of the Hebrew Bible, Cyrus later issued a decree permitting captive people, including the Jews, to return to their own lands. 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 only identifies 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 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, 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.
In October of 331 BC, Darius III, the last Achaemenid king of the Persian Empire, was defeated by the forces of the Ancient Macedonian Greek ruler Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela. A native account of this invasion notes a ruling by Alexander not to enter the homes of its inhabitants.
Under Alexander, Babylon again flourished as a 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 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) 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.
Under the Parthian and Sassanid Empires, Babylon (like Assyria) became a province of these Persian Empires for nine centuries, until after AD 650. It 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 Mandaean religion, Eastern Rite Christianity and the religion of the 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 Arab/Islamic 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 Hauqal mentions a small village called Babel in the tenth century; subsequent travelers describe only ruins.
European travelers in many cases could not discover the city's location, or mistook Fallujah for it. Twelfth-century traveler Benjamin of Tudela mentions Babylon but it is not clear if he really went there. Others referred to Baghdad as Babylon or New Babylon and described various structures encountered in the region as the Tower of Babel. Pietro della Valle found the ancient site in the seventeenth century and noted the existence of both baked and dried mudbricks cemented with bitumen.
The eighteenth century saw an increasing flow of travelers 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.
Claudius Rich, working for the East India Company in Baghdad, excavated Babylon in 1811–12 and again in 1817. Robert Mignan excavated at the site briefly in 1827. William Loftus visited there in 1849.
Austen Henry Layard made some soundings during a brief visit in 1850 before abandoning the site. Fulgence Fresnel and Julius Oppert heavily excavated Babylon from 1852 to 1854. However, many of the fruits of their work were lost when a raft containing over forty crates of artifacts sank into the Tigris river.
Sir Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baronet and George Smith worked there briefly in 1854. The next excavation was conducted by 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 German Oriental Society led by Robert Koldewey conducted the first scientific archaeological excavations at Babylon. The work was conducted daily from 1899 until 1917. Primary efforts of the dig involved the temple of Marduk 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 Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin., The German archaeologists fled before 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 theatre, and Schmid focused on the temple ziggurat Etemenanki.
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 excavation remain unpublished.
The site of Babylon has been a cultural asset to Iraq since the creation of the modern Iraqi government in 1920. 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 Baathist 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, 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. Proposed reconstruction of the Hanging Gardens and the great ziggurat never took place.
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, Nimrud, Assur and Hatra, to demonstrate the magnificence of Arab achievement.
When the 1991 Gulf War ended, Hussein wanted to build a modern palace called Saddam Hill over some of the old ruins, in the pyramidal style of a ziggurat. In 2003, he intended the construction of a cable car line over Babylon, but plans were halted by the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the area around Babylon came under the control of US troops, before being handed over to 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:
They caused substantial damage to the Ishtar Gate, one of the most famous monuments from antiquity [...] US military vehicles crushed 2,600-year-old brick pavements, archaeological fragments were scattered across the site, more than 12 trenches were driven into ancient deposits and military earth-moving projects contaminated the site for future generations of scientists.
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 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.
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 word "Babylon" in various languages has acquired a generic meaning of a large, bustling diverse city. Examples include:
In Genesis 10:10, Babel (Babylon) is described as founded by Nimrod along with Uruk, 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, including several prophecies and in descriptions of the destruction of Jerusalem and subsequent Babylonian captivity. Consequently, 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, 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 scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns, and drunk on the blood of the righteous. Some scholars of apocalyptic literature believe this New Testament "Babylon" to be a dysphemism for the Roman Empire.
Babil Governorate or Babylon Province (Arabic: محافظة بابل Muḥāfaẓa Bābil) is a governorate in central Iraq. It has an area of 5,119 square kilometres (1,976 sq mi), with an estimated population of 1,651,565 people in 2002. The provincial capital is the city of Hillah, which lies opposite the ancient city of Babylon (بابل), on the Euphrates river.Babylon, New York
Babylon is one of ten towns in Suffolk County, New York, United States. Located on Long Island, the town population was 214,191 as of the 2014 census. Parts of Jones Beach Island, Captree Island and Fire Island are in the southernmost part of the town. It borders Nassau County to the West, and the Atlantic Ocean to the South. At its westernmost point, its location is approximately 20 miles (32 km) from New York City at the Queens border, and approximately 30 miles (48 km) from Manhattan. There is also a village of Babylon located within the town.Babylon 5
Babylon 5 is an American space opera television series created by writer and producer J. Michael Straczynski, under the Babylonian Productions label, in association with Straczynski's Synthetic Worlds Ltd. and Warner Bros. Domestic Television. After the successful airing of a test pilot movie on February 22, 1993, Babylon 5: The Gathering, in May 1993 Warner Bros. commissioned the series for production as part of its Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN). The first season premiered in the US on January 26, 1994, and the series ultimately ran for the intended five seasons, costing an estimated $90 million for 110 episodes.Unlike most television shows at the time, Babylon 5 was conceived as a "novel for television", with a defined beginning, middle, and end; in essence, each episode would be a single "chapter" of this "novel". The series consists of a coherent five-year story arc unfolding over five seasons of 22 episodes each. Tie-in novels, comic books, and short stories were also developed to play a significant canonical part in the overall story.The series follows the human military staff and alien diplomats stationed on a space station, Babylon 5, built in the aftermath of several major inter-species wars as a neutral focal point for galactic diplomacy and trade. Babylon 5 was an early example of a television series featuring story arcs which spanned episodes or whole seasons. Whereas contemporary television shows tended to confine conflicts to individual episodes, maintaining the overall status quo, each season of Babylon 5 contains plot elements which permanently change the series universe. Babylon 5 utilized multiple episodes to address the repercussions of some plot events or character decisions, and episode plots would at times reference or be influenced by events from prior episodes or seasons, which was relatively unusual at the time.Many races of sentient creatures are seen frequenting the station, with most episodes drawing from a core of a dozen or so species. Major plotlines included Babylon 5's embroilment in a millennia-long cyclical conflict between ancient, powerful races, inter-race wars and their aftermaths, and intrigue or upheaval within particular races, including the human characters who fight to resist Earth's descent into totalitarianism. Many episodes focus on the effect of wider events on individual characters, with episodes containing themes such as personal change, loss, subjugation, corruption, defiance, and redemption.Babylon Branch
The Babylon Branch is a rail service operated by the Long Island Rail Road in the U.S. state of New York. The term refers to the trains serving Montauk Branch stations from Valley Stream east to Babylon; in other words, the Babylon Branch is a rail service rather than an actual track. The electrification of the Montauk Branch ends east of the Babylon station, so the Babylon Branch is mostly served by electric trains.
The west end of the "Babylon Branch" is the junction between the West Hempstead Branch and Montauk Branch (Valley Interlocking); St Albans, the only stop on the Montauk Branch west of Valley Stream, is shown in the West Hempstead Branch timetable. Trains that continue past the east end of the Babylon Branch are known as Montauk Branch trains; several of these use the Central Branch between Belmont Junction west of the Babylon station and a junction at Beth Interlocking on the Main Line southeast of the Bethpage Station, running to New York City via the Main Line. On weekends, Babylon Branch trains typically stop at Forest Hills and Kew Gardens in the eastbound direction as opposed to other Main Line trains that serve other branches.The Babylon Branch portion of the Montauk Branch is completely grade separated with bridges over all intersecting roadways. Route 231 in between Babylon and the electrified yard, and the Meadowbrook Parkway in between Merrick and Freeport go over the tracks, with the tracks going under those roadways.Babylonia
Babylonia () was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). A small Amorite-ruled state emerged in 1894 BC, which contained the minor administrative town of Babylon. It was merely a small provincial town during the Akkadian Empire (2335–2154 BC) but greatly expanded during the reign of Hammurabi in the first half of the 18th century BC and became a major capital city. During the reign of Hammurabi and afterwards, Babylonia was called "the country of Akkad" (Māt Akkadī in Akkadian).It was often involved in rivalry with the older state of Assyria to the north and Elam to the east in Ancient Iran. Babylonia briefly became the major power in the region after Hammurabi (fl. c. 1792–1752 BC middle chronology, or c. 1696–1654 BC, short chronology) created a short-lived empire, succeeding the earlier Akkadian Empire, Third Dynasty of Ur, and Old Assyrian Empire. The Babylonian empire, however, rapidly fell apart after the death of Hammurabi and reverted to a small kingdom.
Like Assyria, the Babylonian state retained the written Akkadian language (the language of its native populace) for official use, despite its Northwest Semitic-speaking Amorite founders and Kassite successors, who spoke a language isolate, not being native Mesopotamians. It retained the Sumerian language for religious use (as did Assyria), but already by the time Babylon was founded, this was no longer a spoken language, having been wholly subsumed by Akkadian. The earlier Akkadian and Sumerian traditions played a major role in Babylonian and Assyrian culture, and the region would remain an important cultural center, even under its protracted periods of outside rule.
The earliest mention of the city of Babylon can be found in a clay tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad (2334–2279 BC), dating back to the 23rd century BC. Babylon was merely a religious and cultural centre at this point and neither an independent state nor a large city; like the rest of Mesopotamia, it was subject to the Akkadian Empire which united all the Akkadian and Sumerian speakers under one rule. After the collapse of the Akkadian empire, the south Mesopotamian region was dominated by the Gutian people for a few decades before the rise of the Third Dynasty of Ur, which restored order to the region and which, apart from northern Assyria, encompassed the whole of Mesopotamia, including the town of Babylon.Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylonia. After the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BCE, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem, resulting in tribute being paid by King Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim refused to pay tribute in Nebuchadnezzar's fourth year, which led to another siege in Nebuchadnezzar's seventh year, culminating with the death of Jehoiakim and the exile of King Jeconiah, his court and many others; Jeconiah's successor Zedekiah and others were exiled in Nebuchadnezzar's eighteenth year; a later deportation occurred in Nebuchadnezzar's twenty-third year. The dates, numbers of deportations, and numbers of deportees given in the biblical accounts vary. These deportations are dated to 597 BCE for the first, with others dated at 587/586 BCE, and 582/581 BCE respectively.After the fall of Babylon to the Persian king Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, exiled Judeans were permitted to return to Judah. According to the biblical book of Ezra, construction of the second temple in Jerusalem began around 537 BCE. All these events are considered significant in Jewish history and culture, and had a far-reaching impact on the development of Judaism.
Archaeological studies have revealed that not all of the population of Judah was deported, and that, although Jerusalem was utterly destroyed, other parts of Judah continued to be inhabited during the period of the exile. The return of the exiles was a gradual process rather than a single event, and many of the deportees or their descendants did not return, becoming the ancestors of the Iraqi Jews.Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World as listed by Hellenic culture, described as a remarkable feat of engineering with an ascending series of tiered gardens containing a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and vines, resembling a large green mountain constructed of mud bricks, and said to have been built in the ancient city of Babylon, near present-day Hillah, Babil province, in Iraq. Its name is derived from the Greek word kremastós (κρεμαστός, lit. "overhanging"), which has a broader meaning than the modern English word "hanging" and refers to trees being planted on a raised structure such as a terrace.According to one legend, the Hanging Gardens were built alongside a grand palace known as The Marvel of Mankind, by the Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II (who ruled between 605 and 562 BC), for his Median wife Queen Amytis, because she missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland. This was attested to by the Babylonian priest Berossus, writing in about 290 BC, a description that was later quoted by Josephus. The construction of the Hanging Gardens has also been attributed to the legendary queen Semiramis, who supposedly ruled Babylon in the 9th century BC, and they have been called the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis as an alternate name.The Hanging Gardens are the only one of the Seven Wonders for which the location has not been definitively established. There are no extant Babylonian texts that mention the gardens, and no definitive archaeological evidence has been found in Babylon. Three theories have been suggested to account for this. One: that they were purely mythical, and the descriptions found in ancient Greek and Roman writers including Strabo, Diodorus Siculus and Quintus Curtius Rufus represent a romantic ideal of an eastern garden. Two: that they existed in Babylon, but were completely destroyed sometime around the first century AD. Three: that the legend refers to a well-documented garden that the Assyrian King Sennacherib (704–681 BC) built in his capital city of Nineveh on the River Tigris, near the modern city of Mosul.Kassites
The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (short chronology). The endonym of the Kassites was probably Galzu, although they have also been referred to by the names Kaššu, Kassi, Kasi or Kashi.
They gained control of Babylonia after the Hittite sack of the city in 1595 BC (i.e. 1531 BC per the short chronology), and established a dynasty based first in Babylon and later in Dur-Kurigalzu. The Kassites were members of a small military aristocracy but were efficient rulers and not locally unpopular, and their 500-year reign laid an essential groundwork for the development of subsequent Babylonian culture. The chariot and the horse, which the Kassites worshipped, first came into use in Babylonia at this time.The Kassite language has not been classified. What is known is that their language was not related to either the Indo-European language group, nor to Semitic or other Afro-Asiatic languages, and is most likely to have been a language isolate although some linguists have proposed a link to the Hurro-Urartian languages of Asia Minor. However, the arrival of the Kassites has been connected to the contemporary migrations of Indo-European peoples. Several Kassite leaders and deities bore Indo-European names, and it is possible that they were dominated by an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni, who ruled over the Hurro-Urartian-speaking Hurrians of Asia Minor.List of Babylon 5 episodes
Babylon 5 is an American science fiction television series created, produced and largely written by J. Michael Straczynski. The show centers on the Babylon 5 space station: a focal point for politics, diplomacy, and conflict during the years 2257–2262. With its prominent use of planned story arcs, the series was often described as a "novel for television".The pilot film premiered on February 22, 1993. The regular series aired from January 26, 1994, and ran for five full seasons. Due to Warner corporate structure and policy concerning syndication in general, and syndication of properties produced by the defunct PTEN division in particular, the show has been syndicated only briefly, and did not appear on U.S. television from 2003 through 2018 (though it has aired in other countries). In 2018, the show began airing nightly on the Comet TV Sci-Fi Network. The show spawned six television films and a spin-off series, Crusade, which aired in 1999 and ran for 13 episodes. On July 31, 2007, a DVD was released containing two short films about selected characters from the series.
The five seasons of the series each correspond to one fictional sequential year in the period 2258–2262. Each season shares its name with an episode that is central to that season's plot. As the series starts, the Babylon 5 station is welcoming ambassadors from various races in the galaxy. Earth has just barely survived an accidental war with the powerful Minbari, who, despite their superior technology, mysteriously surrendered at the brink of the destruction of the human race.
Some episodes in the second season were aired out of their intended chronological sequence. Straczynski confirmed that in Season 2, "A Race Through Dark Places" should precede "Soul Mates," and that "Knives" should precede "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum."List of kings of Babylon
The following is a list of the kings of Babylonia (ancient southern-central Iraq), compiled from the traditional Babylonian king lists and modern archaeological findings.Marduk
Marduk (cuneiform: 𒀭𒀫𒌓 dAMAR.UTU; Sumerian: amar utu.k "calf of the sun; solar calf"; Greek Μαρδοχαῖος, Mardochaios; Hebrew: מְרֹדַךְ, Modern: Mərōdaḵ, Tiberian: Merōḏaḵ) was a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BC), he slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC. In the city of Babylon, Marduk was worshiped in the temple Esagila. Marduk is associated with the divine weapon Imhullu. "Marduk" is the Babylonian form of his name.The name Marduk was probably pronounced Marutuk. The etymology of the name Marduk is conjectured as derived from amar-Utu ("immortal son of Utu") or ("bull calf of the sun god Utu"). The origin of Marduk's name may reflect an earlier genealogy, or have had cultural ties to the ancient city of Sippar (whose god was Utu, the sun god), dating back to the third millennium BC.By the Hammurabi period, Marduk had become astrologically associated with the planet Jupiter ]].Nebuchadnezzar II
Nebuchadnezzar II (; from Akkadian 𒀭𒀝𒆪𒁺𒌨𒊑𒋀 dNabû-kudurri-uṣur; Hebrew: נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּר, Modern: Nəvūkádne’ṣar, Tiberian: Neḇukáḏné’ṣār, meaning "O god Nabu, preserve/defend my firstborn son"), king of Babylon c. 605 BC – c. 562 BC, was the longest-reigning and most powerful monarch of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.His father Nabopolassar was an official of the Neo-Assyrian Empire who rebelled in 620 BCE and established himself as the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar ascended the throne in 605 BCE and subsequently fought several campaigns in the West, where Egypt was trying to organise a coalition against him. His conquest of Judah is described in the Bible's Books of Kings and Book of Jeremiah. His capital, Babylon, is the largest archaeological site in the Middle East.The Bible remembers him as the destroyer of Solomon's Temple and the initiator of the Babylonian captivity. He is an important character in the Book of Daniel, a collection of legendary tales and visions dating from the 2nd century BC.Neo-Babylonian Empire
The Neo-Babylonian Empire (also Second Babylonian Empire) was a period of Mesopotamian history which began in 626 BC and ended in 539 BC. During the preceding three centuries, Babylonia had been ruled by their fellow Akkadian speakers and northern neighbours, Assyria. A year after the death of the last strong Assyrian ruler, Ashurbanipal, in 627 BC, the Assyrian empire spiralled into a series of brutal civil wars. Babylonia rebelled under Nabopolassar. In alliance with the Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians, they sacked the city of Nineveh in 612 BC, and the seat of empire was transferred to Babylonia for the first time since the death of Hammurabi in the mid-18th century BC. This period witnessed a general improvement in economic life and agricultural production, and a great flourishing of architectural projects, the arts and science.
The Neo-Babylonian period ended with the reign of Nabonidus in 539 BC. To the east, the Persians had been growing in strength, and eventually Cyrus the Great conquered the empire.Rastafari
Rastafari, sometimes termed Rastafarianism, is an Abrahamic religion that developed in Jamaica during the 1930s. Scholars of religion and related fields have classified it as both a new religious movement and a social movement. There is no central authority in control of the movement and much diversity exists among practitioners, who are known as Rastafari, Rastafarians, or Rastas.
Rastas refer to their beliefs, which are based on a specific interpretation of the Bible, as "Rastalogy". Central is a monotheistic belief in a single God—referred to as Jah—who partially resides within each individual. Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia between 1930 and 1974, is given central importance. Many Rastas regard him as an incarnation of Jah on Earth and as the Second Coming of Christ. Others regard him as a human prophet who fully recognized the inner divinity in every individual. Rastafari is Afrocentric and focuses its attention on the African diaspora, which it believes is oppressed within Western society, or "Babylon". Many Rastas call for the resettlement of the African diaspora in either Ethiopia or Africa more widely, referring to this continent as the Promised Land of "Zion". Rastas refer to their practices as "livity". Communal meetings are known as "groundations", and are typified by music, chanting, discussions, and the smoking of cannabis, the latter being regarded as a sacrament with beneficial properties. Rastas place emphasis on what they regard as living "naturally", adhering to ital dietary requirements, twisting their hair into dreadlocks, and following patriarchal gender roles.
Rastafari originated among impoverished and socially disenfranchised Afro-Jamaican communities in 1930s Jamaica. Its Afrocentric ideology was largely a reaction against Jamaica's then-dominant British colonial culture. It was influenced by both Ethiopianism and the Back-to-Africa movement promoted by black nationalist figures like Marcus Garvey. The movement developed after several Christian clergymen, most notably Leonard Howell, proclaimed that Haile Selassie's crowning as emperor in 1930 fulfilled a Biblical prophecy. By the 1950s, Rastafari's counter-cultural stance had brought the movement into conflict with wider Jamaican society, including violent clashes with law enforcement. In the 1960s and 1970s it gained increased respectability within Jamaica and greater visibility abroad through the popularity of Rasta-inspired reggae musicians like Bob Marley. Enthusiasm for Rastafari declined in the 1980s, following the deaths of Haile Selassie and Marley, but the movement survived and has a presence in many parts of the world.
The Rasta movement is decentralised and organised on a largely cellular basis. There are several denominations, or "Mansions of Rastafari", the most prominent of which are the Nyahbinghi, Bobo Ashanti, and the Twelve Tribes of Israel, each offering a different interpretation of Rasta belief. There are an estimated 700,000 to 1 million Rastas across the world; the largest population is in Jamaica although communities can be found in most of the world's major population centres. The majority of practitioners are of black African descent, although a minority come from other racial groups.Rivers of Babylon
"Rivers of Babylon" is a Rastafari song written and recorded by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of the Jamaican reggae group The Melodians in 1970. The lyrics are adapted from the texts of Psalms 19 and 137 in the Hebrew Bible. The Melodians' original version of the song appeared on the soundtrack album for the 1972 movie The Harder They Come, which made it internationally known.
The song was popularized in Europe by the 1978 Boney M. cover version, which was awarded a platinum disc and is one of the top-ten all-time best-selling singles in the UK. The B-side of the single, "Brown Girl in the Ring", also became a hit.Sennacherib
Sennacherib was the king of Assyria from 705 BCE to 681 BCE. He is principally remembered for his military campaigns against Babylon and Judah, and for his building programs – most notably at the Akkadian capital of Nineveh. He was assassinated in obscure circumstances in 681 BCE, apparently by his eldest son (his designated successor, Esarhaddon, was the youngest).The primary preoccupation of his reign was the so-called "Babylonian problem", the refusal of the people of Babylon to accept Assyrian rule, culminating in his destruction of the city in 689 BCE. Further campaigns were carried out in Syria, in the mountains east of Assyria, against the kingdoms of Anatolia, and against the Arabs in the northern Arabian deserts. His campaigns in Syria are recorded in the Second Book of Kings in the Hebrew Bible. His death was welcomed in Babylon as divine punishment for the destruction of that city.He was also a notable builder: it was under him that Assyrian art reached its peak. His building projects included the beautification of Nineveh, a canal 50 km long to bring water to the city, and the "Palace Without Rival", which included what may have been the prototype of the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, or even the actual Hanging Gardens.Tokyo Babylon
Tokyo Babylon (東京 BABYLON, Tōkyō Babiron), also known as Tokyo Babylon: A Save Tokyo City Story, is a shōjo manga series created by Clamp, with story by Nanase Ohkawa and art by Mokona. The series follows Subaru Sumeragi, the head of the Sumeragi clan, and his sister Hokuto as they work to protect Tokyo from a myriad of supernatural perils. The series is based on a dōjinshi Clamp wrote but decided to add dark social themes in the serialization as a result of the chapters' length. They were published by Shinshokan in Japan from 1990 to 1993 and collected total of seven tankōbon volumes. The English-language version of the manga was first distributed by Tokyopop and is now in possession of Dark Horse Comics.
Between 1992 and 1994 Tokyo Babylon was adapted into a two-part original video animation series by the studio Madhouse. PDS also produced a live-action feature film sequel, Tokyo Babylon 1999, which was released on August 21, 1993. The series has been well received for its focus on occultism and social themes, the latter which were reflected most notably in Subaru's character development. The manga is also notorious for its open and tragic ending which is followed in Clamp's manga X.Tower of Babel
The Tower of Babel (Hebrew: מִגְדַּל בָּבֶל, Migdal Bavel) as told in Genesis 11:1–9 is an origin myth meant to explain why the world's peoples speak different languages.According to the story, a united humanity in the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating eastward, comes to the land of Shinar (שִׁנְעָר). There they agree to build a city and a tower tall enough to reach heaven. God, observing their city and tower, confounds their speech so that they can no longer understand each other, and scatters them around the world.
Some modern scholars have associated the Tower of Babel with known structures, notably the Etemenanki, a ziggurat dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Marduk by Nabopolassar, the king of Babylonia circa 610 BCE. The Great Ziggurat of Babylon was 91 metres (300 ft) in height. Alexander the Great ordered it to be demolished circa 331 BCE in preparation for a reconstruction that his death forestalled. A Sumerian story with some similar elements is told in Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta.Whore of Babylon
The Whore of Babylon or Babylon the Great is a symbolic female figure and also place of evil mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. Her full title is stated in Revelation 17:5 as Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth (Greek: μυστηριον, Βαβυλὼν ἡ μεγάλη, ἡ μήτηρ τῶν πορνῶν καὶ τῶν βδελυγμάτων τῆς γῆς; transliterated Mysteriōn, Babylōn hē megalē, hē mētēr tōn pornōn kai tōn bdelygmatōn tēs gēs).