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Coordinates: 32°32′11″N 44°25′15″E / 32.53639°N 44.42083°E / 32.53639; 44.42083

Ancient
Mesopotamia
Euphrates · Tigris
Sumer
Eridu · Kish · Uruk · Ur
Lagash · Nippur · Ngirsu
Elam
Susa · Anshan
Akkadian Empire
Akkad · Mari
Amorites
Isin · Larsa
Babylonia
Babylon · Chaldea
Assyria
Assur · Nimrud
Dur-Sharrukin · Nineveh
Mesopotamia
Sumer (king list)
Kings of Elam
Kings of Assyria
Kings of Babylon
Enûma Elish · Gilgamesh
Assyro-Babylonian religion
Sumerian · Elamite
Akkadian · Aramaic
Hurrian · Hittite

Babylon (Akkadian: Babilu, Aramaic: ܒܵܐܒܸܠ or ܒܐܒܠ‎, Arabic: بابلBabil, Hebrew: בבלBabel) was a city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers (55 mi) south of Baghdad. All that remains of the original ancient famed city of Babylon today is a mound, or tell, of broken mud-brick buildings and debris in the fertile Mesopotamian plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in Iraq. Although it has been reconstructed, historical resources inform us that Babylon was at first a small town, that had sprung up by the beginning of the third millennium BC (the dawn of the dynasties). The town flourished and attained prominence and political repute with the rise of the First Babylonian Dynasty. It was the "holy city" of Babylonia by approximately 2300 BC, and the seat of the Neo-Babylonian Empire from 612 BC. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The form Babylon is the Greek variant of Akkadian Babilu (bāb-ilû, meaning "Gateway of the god(s)", translating Sumerian Ka.dingir.ra). In the Hebrew Bible, the name appears as בבל (Babel), interpreted by Book of Genesis 11:9 to mean "confusion" (of languages), from the verb balbal, "to confuse".

Contents

History

The earliest source to mention Babylon may be a dated tablet of the reign of Sargon of Akkad (ca. 24th century BC short chronology). The so-called "Weidner Chronicle" states that it was Sargon himself who built Babylon "in front of Akkad" (ABC 19:51). Another chronicle likewise states that Sargon "dug up the dirt of the pit of Babylon, and made a counterpart of Babylon next to Agade". (ABC 20:18-19). More recently, some researchers have stated that those sources may refer to Sargon II of the Neo-Assyrian Empire rather than Sargon of Akkad.[1]

Some scholars, including linguist I.J. Gelb, have suggested that the name Babil is an echo of an earlier city name. According to Ranajit Pal, this city was in the East.[2] Herzfeld wrote about Bawer in Iran, which was allegedly founded by Jamshid; the name Babil could be an echo of Bawer. David Rohl holds that the original Babylon is to be identified with Eridu. The Bible in Genesis 10 indicates that Nimrod was the original founder of Babel (Babylon). Joan Oates claims in her book Babylon that the rendering "Gateway of the gods" is no longer accepted by modern scholars.

Over the years, the power and population of Babylon waned. From around the 20th century BC, it was occupied by Amorites, nomadic tribes from the west who were Semitic speakers like the Akkadians, but did not practice agriculture like them, preferring to herd sheep.

Map showing the Babylonian territory upon Hammurabi's ascension in 1792 BC and upon his death in 1750 BC

Old Babylonian period

The First Babylonian Dynasty was established by Sumu-abum, but the city-state controlled little surrounding territory until it became the capital of Hammurabi's empire (ca. 18th century BC). Subsequently, the city continued to be the capital of the region known as Babylonia – although during the almost 400 years of domination by the Kassites (1530–1155 BC), the city was renamed Karanduniash.

Hammurabi is also known for codifying the laws of Babylonia into the Code of Hammurabi that has had a lasting influence on legal thought.

The city itself was built upon the Euphrates, and divided in equal parts along its left and right banks, with steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. Babylon grew in extent and grandeur over time, but gradually became subject to the rule of Assyria.

It has been estimated that Babylon was the largest city in the world from ca. 1770 to 1670 BC, and again between ca. 612 and 320 BC. It was perhaps the first city to reach a population above 200,000.[3]

Assyrian period

During the reign of Sennacherib of Assyria, Babylonia was in a constant state of revolt, led by Mushezib-Marduk, and suppressed only by the complete destruction of the city of Babylon. In 689 BC, its walls, temples and palaces were razed, and the rubble was thrown into the Arakhtu, the sea bordering the earlier Babylon on the south. This act shocked the religious conscience of Mesopotamia; the subsequent murder of Sennacherib by two of his sons was held to be in expiation of it, and his successor Esarhaddon hastened to rebuild the old city, to receive there his crown, and make it his residence during part of the year. On his death, Babylonia was left to be governed by his elder son Shamash-shum-ukin, who eventually headed a revolt in 652 BC against his brother in Nineveh, Assurbanipal.

Once again, Babylon was besieged by the Assyrians and starved into surrender. Assurbanipal purified the city and celebrated a "service of reconciliation", but did not venture to "take the hands" of Bel. In the subsequent overthrow of the Assyrian Empire, the Babylonians saw another example of divine vengeance. (Albert Houtum-Schindler, "Babylon," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed.)

Neo-Babylonian Chaldean Empire

Detail of the Ishtar Gate

Under Nabopolassar, Babylon threw off the Assyrian rule in 612 BC and became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Chaldean Empire.[4][5][6]

With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, and his son Nebuchadnezzar II (604–561 BC) made Babylon into one of the wonders of the ancient world.[7] Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including rebuilding the Etemenanki ziggurat and the construction of the Ishtar Gate — the most spectacular of eight gates that ringed the perimeter of Babylon. A reconstruction of The Ishtar Gate is located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. All that was ever found of the Original Ishtar gate was the foundation and scattered bricks. Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), said to have been built for his homesick wife Amyitis. Whether the gardens did exist is a matter of dispute. Although excavations by German archaeologist Robert Koldewey are thought to reveal its foundations, many historians disagree about the location, and some believe it may have been confused with gardens in Nineveh.

Persia captures Babylon

In 539 BC, the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, with an unprecedented military engagement known as the Battle of Opis. The famed walls of Babylon were indeed impenetrable, with the only way into the city through one of its many gates or through the Euphrates, which ebbed beneath its thick walls. Metal gates at the river's in-flow and out-flow prevented underwater intruders, if one could hold one's breath to reach them. Cyrus (or his generals) devised a plan to use the Euphrates as the mode of entry to the city, ordering large camps of troops at each point and instructed them to wait for the signal. Awaiting an evening of a national feast among Babylonians (generally thought to refer to the feast of Belshazzar mentioned in Daniel V), Cyrus' troops diverted the Euphrates river upstream, causing the Euphrates to drop to about 'mid thigh level on a man' or to dry up altogether. The soldiers marched under the walls through thigh-level water or as dry as mud. The Persian Army conquered the outlying areas of the city's interior while a majority of Babylonians at the city center were oblivious to the breach. The account was elaborated upon by Herodotus,[8] and is also mentioned by passages in the Hebrew Bible.[9][10] Cyrus claimed the city by walking through the gates of Babylon with little or no resistance from the drunken Babylonians.

Cyrus later issued a decree permitting captive people, including the Jews, to return to their own land (as explained in the Old Testament), to allow their temple to be rebuilt back in Jerusalem.

Under Cyrus and the subsequent Persian king Darius the Great, Babylon became the capital city of the 9th Satrapy (Babylonia in the south and Athura in the north), as well as a centre of learning and scientific advancement. In Achaemenid Persia, the ancient Babylonian arts of astronomy and mathematics were revitalised and flourished, and Babylonian scholars completed maps of constellations. The city was the administrative capital of the Persian Empire, the preeminent power of the then known world, and it played a vital part in the history of that region for over two centuries. Many important archaeological discoveries have been made that can provide a better understanding of that era.[11][12]

The early Persian kings had attempted to maintain the religious ceremonies of Marduk, but by the reign of Darius III, over-taxation and the strains of numerous wars led to a deterioration of Babylon's main shrines and canals, and the disintegration of the surrounding region. Despite three attempts at rebellion in 522 BC, 521 BC and 482 BC, the land and city of Babylon remained solidly under Persian rule for two centuries, until Alexander the Great's entry in 331 BC.

Hellenistic period

In 331 BC, Darius III was defeated by the forces of the Ancient Greek ruler Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela, and in October, Babylon fell to the young conqueror. A native account of this invasion notes a ruling by Alexander not to enter the homes of its inhabitants.[13]

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

The constant turmoil virtually emptied the city of Babylon. A tablet dated 275 BC states that the inhabitants of Babylon were transported to Seleucia, where a palace was built, as well as a temple given the ancient name of Esagila. With this deportation, the history of Babylon comes practically to an end, though more than a century later, it was found that sacrifices were still performed in its old sanctuary.[14] By 141 BC, when the Parthian Empire took over the region, Babylon was in complete desolation and obscurity.

Persian Empire period

Under the Parthian, and later, Sassanid Persians, Babylon remained a province of the Persian Empire for nine centuries, until about 650 AD. It continued to have its own culture and people, who spoke varieties of Aramaic, and who continued to refer to their homeland as Babylon. Some examples of their cultural products are often found in the Babylonian Talmud, the Mandaean religion, and the religion of the prophet Mani. Christianity came to Mesopotamia in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and Babylon was the seat of a Bishop of the Church of the East.

Archaeology

Babylon in 1932

The site at Babylon consists of a number of mounds covering an oblong area roughly 2 kilometers by 1 kilometer, oriented north to south totalling around 850 hectares. The site is bounded by the Euphrates River on the west, and by the remains of the ancient city walls otherwise. Originally, the Euphrates roughly bisected the city, as is common in the region, but the river has since shifted its course so that much of the remains on the former western part of the city are now inundated. Some portions of the city wall to the west of the river also remain. Several of the sites mounds are more prominent.

These include:

  • Amran Ibn Ali – to the south and the highest of the mounds at 25 meters. It is the site of Esagila, a temple of Marduk which also contained shrines to Ea and Nabu.
  • Homera – a reddish colored mound on the west side. Most of the Hellenistic remains are here.
  • Babil – in the northern end of the site, about 22 meters in height. It has been extensively subject to brick robbing (or brick recycling depending on your point of view) since ancient times. It held a palace build by Nebuchadnezzar.

Occupation at the site dates back to the late 3rd millennium, finally achieving prominence in the early 2nd millennium under the First Babylonian Dynasty and again later in the millennium under the Kassite dynasty of Babylon. Unfortunately, almost nothing from that period has been recovered at the site of Babylon. First, the water table in the region has risen greatly over the centuries and artifacts from the time before the Neo-Babylonian Empire are unavailable to current standard archaeological methods. Secondly, the Neo-Babylonians conducted massive rebuilding projects in the city which destroyed or obscured much of the earlier record. Third, much of the western half of the city is now under the Euphrates River. Fourth, Babylon has been sacked a number of times, most notably by the Hittites and Elamites in the 2nd millennium, then by the Neo-Assyrian Empire and the Achaemenid Empire in the 1st millennium, after the Babylonians had revolted against their rule. Lastly, the site has been long mined for building materials on a commercial scale.

While knowledge of early Babylon must be pieced together from epigraphic remains found elsewhere, such as at Uruk, Nippur, and Haradum, 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 political spin is involved but still provide useful data.

The first reported archaeological excavation of Babylon was conducted by Claudius James Rich in 1811-12 and again in 1817.[15] [16] Robert Mignan excavated at the site briefly in 1827.[17] William Loftus visited there in 1849.[18]

Austen Henry Layard made some soundings during a brief visit in 1850 before abandoning the site.[19] Fulgence Fresnel and Julius Oppert heavily excavated Babylon from 1852 to 1854. Unfortunately, much of the result of their work was lost when a raft containing over forty crates of artifacts sank into the Tigris river.[20][21]

Henry Creswicke Rawlinson and George Smith worked there briefly in 1854. The next excavation, a major one, was conducted by Hormuzd Rassam on behalf of the British Museum. Work began in 1879, continuing until 1882, and was prompted by widespread looting occurring at the site. Using industrial scale digging in search of artifacts, Rassam recovered a large quantity of cuneiform tablets and other finds. The zealous excavation methods, common in those days, caused much damage to the archaeological context.[22][23]

A team from the German Oriental Society led by Robert Koldewey conducted the first scientific archaeological excavations at Babylon. The work was conducted every year between 1899 and 1917 until World War I intruded. Primary efforts of the dig involved the temple of Marduk and the processional way leading up to it, as well as the city wall. Hundreds of recovered tablets, as well as the noted Ishtar Gate were sent back to Germany.[24][25][26][27][28][29]

Further work by the German Archaeological Institute was conducted by Heinrich J. Lenzen in 1956 and Hansjörg Schmid 1962. The work by Lenzen dealt primarily with the Hellenistic theatre and by Schmid with the temple ziggurat Etemenanki.[30]

In more recent times, the site of Babylon was excavated by G. Bergamini on behalf of the Centro Scavi di Torino per il Medio Oriente e l'Asia and the Iraqi-Italian Institute of Archaeological Sciences. This work began with a season of excavation in 1974 followed by a topographical survey in 1977. [31] The focus was on clearing up issues raised by re-examination of the old German data. After a decade, Bergamini returned to the site in 1987-1989. The work concentrated on the area surrounding the Ishara and Ninurta temples in the Shu-Anna city-quarter of Babylon.[32][33]

It should be noted that during the restoration efforts in Babylon, some amount of excavation and room clearing has been done by the Iraqi State Organization for Antiquities and Heritage. Given the conditions in that country the last few decades, publication of archaeological activities has been understandably sparse at best.[34][35]

Reconstruction

In 1983, Saddam Hussein started rebuilding the city on top of the old ruins (because of this, artifacts and other finds may well be under the city by now), investing in both restoration and new construction. He inscribed his name on many of the bricks in imitation of Nebuchadnezzar. One frequent inscription reads: "This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq". This recalls the ziggurat at Ur, where each individual brick was stamped with "Ur-Nammu, king of Ur, who built the temple of Nanna". These bricks became sought after as collectors' items after the downfall of Hussein, and the ruins are no longer being restored to their original state. He also installed a huge portrait of himself and Nebuchadnezzar at the entrance to the ruins, and shored up Processional Way, a large boulevard of ancient stones, and the Lion of Babylon, a black rock sculpture about 2,600 years old.

When the Gulf War ended, Saddam wanted to build a modern palace, also over some old ruins; it was made in the pyramidal style of a Sumerian ziggurat. He named it Saddam Hill. In 2003, he was ready to begin the construction of a cable car line over Babylon when the invasion began and halted the project.

An article published in April 2006 states that UN officials and Iraqi leaders have plans for restoring Babylon, making it into a cultural center.[36][37]

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

Panoramic view over the reconstructed city of Babylon


Effects of the U.S. military

US forces under the command of General James T. Conway of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force were criticized for building the military base "Camp Alpha", comprising among other facilities a helipad, on ancient Babylonian ruins following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

US Marines in front of the rebuilt ruins of Babylon, 2003.

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 describes how parts of the archaeological site were levelled to create a landing area for helicopters, and parking lots for heavy vehicles. Curtis wrote that the occupation forces

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

A US Military spokesman claimed that engineering operations were discussed with the "head of the Babylon museum". [38]

The head of the Iraqi State Board for Heritage and Antiquities, Donny George, said that the "mess will take decades to sort out".[39] In April 2006, Colonel John Coleman, former Chief of Staff for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, offered to issue an apology for the damage done by military personnel under his command. However he claimed that the US presence had deterred far greater damage from other looters.[40] Some antiquities were removed since creation of Camp Alpha, without doubt to be sold on the antiquities market, which is booming since the beginning of the occupation of Iraq.[41]

References

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Stephanie Dalley, Babylon as a Name for other Cities Including Nineveh, in Uchicago.edu, Proceedings of the 51st Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Oriental Institute SAOC 62, pp. 25-33, 2005
  2. ^ "Alexander's Dream of a United Nations". http://www.ranajitpal.com/dream.html. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  3. ^ Rosenberg, Matt T. Largest Cities Through History, About.com. Accessed April 19, 2008.
  4. ^ Bradford, Alfred S. (2001). With Arrow, Sword, and Spear: A History of Warfare in the Ancient World, pp. 47-48. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0275952592.
  5. ^ Curtis, Adrian; Herbert Gordon May (2007). Oxford Bible Atlas Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0191001581 p. 122 "chaldean+empire"&num=100 Google Books Search
  6. ^ von Soden, Wilfred; Donald G. Schley (1996). William B. Eerdmanns ISBN 978-0802801425 p. 60 "chaldean+empire"&num=100#PPA60,M1 Google Books Search
  7. ^ Saggs, H.W.F. (2000). Babylonians, p. 165. University of California Press. ISBN 0520202228.
  8. ^ Herodotus, Book 1, Section 191
  9. ^ Isaiah 44:27
  10. ^ Jeremiah 50-51
  11. ^ Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia The British Museum. Accessed April 19, 2008.
  12. ^ Mesopotamia: The Persians
  13. ^ Beck, Roger B.; Linda Black, Larry S. Krieger, Phillip C. Naylor, Dahia Ibo Shabaka, (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell. ISBN 0-395-87274-X. 
  14. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Babylon". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911. 
  15. ^ Claudius J. Rich, Memoirs on the Ruins of Babylon, 1815
  16. ^ Claudius J. Rich, Second memoir on Babylon; containing an inquiry into the correspondence between the ancient descriptions of Babylon, and the remains still visible on the site, 1818
  17. ^ Google Books Search, Robert Mignan, Travels in Chaldæa, Including a Journey from Bussorah to Bagdad, Hillah, and Babylon, Performed on Foot in 1827, H. Colburn and R. Bentley, 1829 ISBN 1402160135
  18. ^ Google Books Search, William K. Loftus, Travels and Researches in Chaldaea and Susiana, Travels and Researches in Chaldaea and Susiana: With an Account of Excavations at Warka, the "Erech" of Nimrod, and Shush, "Shushan the Palace" of Esther, in 1849-52, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857
  19. ^ Google Books Search, A. H. Layard, Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, J. Murray, 1853
  20. ^ J. Oppert, Expédition scientifique en Mésopotamie exécutée par ordre du gouvernement de 1851 à 1854. Tome I: Rélation du voyage et résultat de l'expédition, 1863 (also as ISBN 0543749452) Tome II: Déchiffrement des inscriptions cuneiforms, 1859 (also as ISBN 0543749398)
  21. ^ H V. Hilprecht, Exploration in the Bible Lands During the 19th Century, A. J. Holman, 1903
  22. ^ Archive.org, Hormuzd Rassam, Asshur and the Land of Nimrod: Being an Account of the Dicoveries Made in the Ancient Ruins of Nineveh, Asshur, Sepharvaim, Calah, [etc]..., Curts & Jennings, 1897
  23. ^ Julian Reade, Hormuzd Rassam and his discoveries, Iraq, vol. 55, pp. 39-62, 1993
  24. ^ Google Books Research, R. Koldewey, Das wieder erstehende Babylon, die bisherigen Ergebnisse der deutschen Ausgrabungen, J.C. Hinrichs, 1913, with online English translation: Agnes Sophia Griffith Johns, The excavations at Babylon By Robert Koldewey, Macmillan and Co., 1914
  25. ^ R. Koldewey, Die Tempel von Babylon und Borsippa, WVDOG, vol. 15, pp. 37-49, 1911 (German)
  26. ^ R. Koldewey, Das Ischtar-Tor in Babylon, WVDOG, vol. 32, 1918
  27. ^ F. Wetzel, Die Stadtmauren von Babylon, WVDOG, vol. 48, pp. 1-83, 1930
  28. ^ F. Wetzel and F.H. Weisbach, Das Hauptheiligtum des Marduk in Babylon: Esagila und Etemenanki, WVDOG, vol. 59, pp. 1-36, 1938
  29. ^ F. Wetzel et al., Das Babylon der Spätzeit, WVDOG, vol. 62, Gebr. Mann, 1957 (1998 reprint ISBN 3786120013)
  30. ^ Hansjörg Schmid, Der Tempelturm Etemenanki in Babylon, Zabern, 1995, ISBN 3805316100
  31. ^ G. Bergamini, Levels of Babylon Reconsidered, Mesopotamia, vol. 12, pp. 111-152, 1977
  32. ^ G. Bergamini, Excavations in Shu-anna Babylon 1987, Mesopotamia, vol. 23, pp. 5-17, 1988
  33. ^ G. Bergamini, Preliminary report on the 1988-1989 operations at Babylon Shu-Anna, Mesopotamia, vol. 25, pp. 5-12, 1990
  34. ^ Excavations in Iraq 1981-1982, Iraq, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 199-224,1983
  35. ^ Farouk N. H. Al-Rawi, Nabopolassar's Restoration Work on the Wall "Imgur-Enlil at Babylon, Iraq, vol. 47, pp. 1-13, 1985
  36. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey. Unesco intends to put the magic back in Babylon, International Herald Tribune, April 21, 2006. Accessed April 19, 2008.
  37. ^ McBride, Edward. Monuments to Self: Baghdad's grands projects in the age of Saddam Hussein, MetropolisMag. Accessed April 19, 2008.
  38. ^ "Damage seen to ancient Babylon". The Boston Globe. January 16, 2005. http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2005/01/16/damage_seen_to_ancient_babylon/. 
  39. ^ Heritage News from around the world, World Heritage Alert!. Accessed April 19, 2008.
  40. ^ Cornwell, Rupert. US colonel offers Iraq an apology of sorts for devastation of Babylon, The Independent, April 15, 2006. Accessed April 19, 2008.
  41. ^ J. E. Curtis, "Report on Meeting at Babylon 11 – 13 December 2004", British Museum, 2004

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BABYLON (mod. Hillah), an ancient city on the left bank of the Euphrates, about 70 m. S. of Bagdad. "Babylon" is the Greek form of Babel or Bab-ili, "the gate of the god" (sometimes incorrectly written "of the gods"), which again is the Semitic translation of the original Sumerian name Ka-dimirra. The god was probably Merodach or Marduk, the divine patron of the city. In an inscription of the Kassite conqueror Gaddas the name appears as Ba-ba-lam, as if from the Assyrian babalu, " to bring"; another foreign Volksetymologie is found in Genesis xi. 9, from balbal, " to confound." A second name of the city, which perhaps originally denoted a separate village or quarter, was Su-anna, and in later inscriptions it is often represented ideographically by E-ki, the pronunciation and meaning of which are uncertain. One of its oldest names, however, was Din-tir, of which the poets were especially fond; Din-tir signifies in Sumerian "the life of the forest," though a native lexicon translates it "seat of life." Uru-azagga, "the holy city," was also a title sometimes applied to Babylon as to other cities in Babylonia. Ka-dimirra, the Semitic Bab-ili, probably denoted at first E-Saggila, "the house of the lofty head," the temple dedicated to Bel-Merodach, along with its immediate surroundings. Like the other great sanctuaries of Babylonia the temple had been founded in pre-Semitic times, and the future Babylon grew up around it. Since Merodach was the son of Ea, the culture god of Eridu near Ur on the Persian Gulf, it is possible that Babylon was a colony of Eridu. Adjoining Babylon was a town called Borsippa.

The earliest mention of Babylon is in a dated tablet of the reign of Sargon of Akkad (3800 B.C.), who is stated to have built sanctuaries there to Anunit and Ae (or Ea), and H. Winckler may be right in restoring a mutilated passage in the annals of this king so as to make it mean that Babylon owed its name to Sargon, who made it the capital of his empire. If so, it fell back afterwards into the position of a mere provincial town and remained so for centuries, until it became the capital of "the first dynasty of Babylon" and then of Khammurabi's empire (2250 B.C.). From this time onward it continued to be the capital of Babylonia and the holy city of western Asia. The claim to supremacy in Asia, however real in fact, was not admitted de jure until the claimant had "taken the hands" of BelMerodach at Babylon, and thereby been accepted as his adopted son and the inheritor of the old Babylonian empire. It was this which made Tiglath-pileser III. and other Assyrian kings so anxious to possess themselves of Babylon and so to legitimize their power. Sennacherib alone seems to have failed in securing the support of the Babylonian priesthood; at all events he never underwent the ceremony, and Babylonia throughout his reign was in a constant state of revolt which was finally suppressed only by the complete destruction of the capital. In 689 B.C. its walls, temples and palaces were razed to the ground and the rubbish thrown into the Arakhtu, the canal which bordered the earlier Babylon on the south. The act shocked the religious conscience of western Asia; the subsequent murder of Sennacherib was held to be an expiation of it, and his successor Esarhaddon hastened to rebuild the old city, to receive there his crown, and make it his residence during part of the year. On his death Babylonia was left to his elder son Samas-sum-yukin, who eventually headed a revolt against his brother Assur-bani-pal of Assyria. Once more Babylon was besieged by the Assyrians and starved into surrender. Assur-bani-pal purified the city and celebrated a "service of reconciliation," but did not venture to "take the hands" of Bel. In the subsequent overthrow of the Assyrian empire the Babylonians saw another example of divine vengeance.

With the recovery of Babylonian independence under Nabopolassar a new era of architectural activity set in, and his son Nebuchadrezzar made Babylon one of the wonders of the ancient world. It surrendered without a struggle to Cyrus, but two sieges in the reign of Darius Hystaspis, and one in the reign of Xerxes, brought about the destruction of the defences, while the monotheistic rule of Persia allowed the temples to fall into decay. Indeed part of the temple of E-Saggila, which like other ancient temples served as a fortress, was intentionally pulled down by Xerxes after his capture of the city. Alexander was murdered in the palace of Nebuchadrezzar, which must therefore have been still standing, and cuneiform texts show that, even under the Seleucids, E-Saggila was not wholly a ruin. The foundation of Seleucia in its neighbourhood, however, drew away the population of the old city and hastened its material decay. A tablet dated 275 B.C. states that on the 12th of Nisan the inhabitants of Babylon were transported to the new town, where a palace was built as well as a temple to which the ancient name of E-Saggila was given. With this event the history of Babylon comes practically to an end, though more than a century later we find sacrifices being still performed in its old sanctuary.

Our knowledge of its topography is derived from the classical writers, the inscriptions of Nebuchadrezzar, and the excavations of the Deutsche Orientgesellschaft, which were begun in 1899. The topography is necessarily that of the Babylon of Nebuchadrezzar; the older Babylon which was destroyed by Sennacherib having left few, if any, traces behind. Most of the existing remains lie on the E. bank of the Euphrates, the principal being three vast mounds, the Babil to the north, the Qasr or "Palace" (also known as the Mujelliba) in the centre, and the Ishan `Amran ibn `Ali, with the outlying spur of the Jumjuma, to the south. Eastward of these come the Ishan el-Aswad or "Black Mound" and three lines of rampart, one of which encloses the Babil mound on the N. and E. sides, while a third forms a triangle with the S.E. angle of the other two. W. of the Euphrates are other ramparts and the remains of the ancient Borsippa.

We learn from Herodotus and Ctesias that the city was built on both sides of the river in the form of a square, and enclosed within a double row of lofty walls to which Ctesias adds a third. Ctesias makes the outermost wall 360 stades (42 m.) in circumference, while according to Herodotus it measured 480 stades (56 m.), which would include an area of about 200 sq. m. The estimate of Ctesias is essentially the same as that of Q. Curtius (v. 1.26), 368 stades, and Clitarchus (ap. Diod. Sic. ii. 7), 365 stades; Strabo (xvi. 1.5) makes it 385 stades. But even the estimate of Ctesias, assuming the stade to be its usual length, would imply an area of about loo sq. m. According to Herodotus the height of the walls was about 335 ft. and their width 85 ft.; according to Ctesias the height was about 300 ft. The measurements seem exaggerated, but we must remember that even in Xenophon's time (Anab. iii. 4. io) the ruined wall of Nineveh was still 150 ft. high, and that the spaces between the 250 towers of the wall of Babylon (Ctes. 417, ap. Diod. ii. 7) were broad enough to let a four-horse chariot turn (Herod. i. 179). The clay dug from the moat served to make the bricks of the wall, which had loo gates, all of bronze, with bronze lintels and posts. The two inner enclosures were faced with enamelled tiles and represented hunting-scenes. Two other walls ran along the banks of the Euphrates and the quays with which it was lined, each containing 25 gates which answered to the number of streets they led into. Ferry-boats plied between the landingplaces of the gates, and a movable drawbridge (30 ft. broad), supported on stone piers, joined the two parts of the city together.

The account thus given of the walls must be grossly exaggerated and cannot have been that of an eye-witness. Moreover, the two-walls - Imgur-Bel, the inner wall, and Nimitti-Bel, the outer - which enclosed the city proper on the site of the older Babylon have been confused with the outer ramparts (enclosing the whole of Nebuchadrezzar's city), the remains of which can still be traced to the east. According to Nebuchadrezzar, Imgur-Bel was built in the form of a square, each side of which measured "30 aslu by the great cubit"; this would be equivalent, if Professor F. Hommel is right, to 2400 metres. Four thousand cubits to the east the great rampart was built "mountain high," which surrounded both the old and the new town; it was provided with a moat, and a reservoir was excavated in the triangle on the inner side of its south-east corner, the western wall of which is still visible. The Imgur-Bel of Sargon's time has been discovered by the German excavators running south of the Qasr from the Euphrates to the Gate of Ishtar.

The German excavations have shown that the Qsar mound represents both the old palace of Nabopolassar, and the new palace adjoining it built by Nebuchadrezzar, the wall of which he boasts of having completed in 15 days. They have also laid bare the site of the "Gate of Ishtar" on the east side of the mound and the little temple of Nin-Makh (Beltis) beyond it, as well as the raised road for solemn processions (A-ibur-sabu) which led from the Gate of Ishtar to E-Saggila and skirted the east side of the palace. The road was paved with stone and its walls on either side lined with enamelled tiles, on which a procession of lions is represented. North of the mound was a canal, which seems to have been the Libilkhegal of the inscriptions, while on the south side was the Arakhtu, "the river of Babylon," the brick quays of which were built by Nabopolassar.

The site of E-Saggila is still uncertain. The German excavators assign it to the `Amran mound, its tower having stood in a depression immediately to the north of this, and so place it south of the Qasr; but E. Lindl and F. Hommel have put forward strong reasons for considering it to have been north of the latter, on a part of the site which has not yet been explored.

A tablet copied by George Smith gives us interesting details as to the plan and dimensions of this famous temple of Bel; a plan based on these will be found in Hommel's Grundriss der Geographie and Geschichte des alten Orients, p. 321. There were three courts, the outer or great court, the middle court of Ishtar and Zamama, and the inner court on the east side of which was the tower of seven stages (known as the House of the Foundation of Heaven and Earth), 90 metres high according to Hommel's calculation of the measurements in the tablet; while on the west side was the temple proper of Merodach and his wife Sarpanit or Zarpanit, as well as chapels of Anu, Ea and Bel on either side of it. A winding ascent led to the summit of the tower, where there was a chapel, containing, according to Herodotus, a couch and golden table (for the showbread), but no image. The golden image of Merodach 40 ft. high, stood in the temple below, in the sanctuary called E-Kua or "House of the Oracle," together with a table, a mercyseat and an altar - all of gold. The deities whose chapels were erected within the precincts of the temple enclosure were regarded as forming his court. Fifty-five of these chapels existed altogether in Babylon, but some of them stood independently in other parts of the city.

There are numerous gates in the walls both of E-Saggila and of the city, the names of many of which are now known. Nebuchadrezzar says that he covered the walls of some of them with blue enamelled tiles "on which bulls and dragons were pourtrayed," and that he set up large bulls and serpents of bronze on their thresholds.

The Babil mound probably represents the site of a palace built by Nebuchadrezzar at the northern extremity of the city walls and attached to a defensive outwork 60 cubits in length. Since H. Rassam found remains of irrigation works here it might well be the site of the Hanging Gardens. These consisted, we are told, of a garden of trees and flowers, built on the topmost of a series of arches some 7 5 ft. high, and in the form of a square, each side of which measured 400 Greek ft. Water was raised from the Euphrates by means of a screw (Strabo xvi. 1.5; Diod. ii. io. 6). In the Jumjuma mound at the southern extermity of the old city the contract and other business tablets of the Egibi firm were found.

See C. J. Rich, Memoir on the Ruins of Babylon (1816), and Collected Memoirs (1839); A. H. Layard, Nineveh and Babylon (1853); C. P. Tiele, De Hoofdtempel van Babel (1886); A. H. Sayce, Religion of the Ancient Babylonians, App. ii. (1887); C. J. Ball in Records of the Past (new ser. iii. 1890); Mittheilungen der deutschen Orientgesellschaft (1899-1906) F. Delitzsch, Im Lande des einstigen Paradieses (1903); F. H. Weissbach, Das Stadtbild von Babylon (1904); F. Hommel, Grundriss der Geographie and Geschichte des alten Orients (1904). (A. H. S.)


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Etymology

Latin Babylōn, from Greek Βαβυλών, from Akkadian bāb ili ‘gate of God’; the name of the ancient Chaldean capital and Biblical city of the Apocalypse.

Proper noun

Babylon

  1. Capital of Babylonia in the 2nd and 1st century BC.
  2. Any city of great wealth, luxury and vice.
  3. (Rastafarianism) Term for the so-called white man's civilization.

Translations

Derived terms


Latin

Proper noun

Babylōn (genitive Babylōnis); f, third declension

  1. Babylon

Related terms

  • Babylonia
  • Babyloniacus
  • Babylonicus
  • Babyloniensis
  • Babylonius

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

the Greek form of BABEL; Semitic form Babilu, meaning "The Gate of God." In the Assyrian tablets it means "The city of the dispersion of the tribes."

The monumental list of its kings reaches back to B.C. 2300, and includes Khammurabi, or Amraphel, the contemporary of Abraham.

It stood on the Euphrates, about 200 miles above its junction with the Tigris, which flowed through its midst and divided it into two almost equal parts.

The Elamites invaded Chaldea (i.e., Lower Mesopotamia, or Shinar, and Upper Mesopotamia, or Accad, now combined into one) and held it in subjection. At length Khammu-rabi delivered it from the foreign yoke, and founded the new empire of Chaldea, making Babylon the capital of the united kingdom. This city gradually grew in extent and grandeur, but in process of time it became subject to Assyria. On the fall of Nineveh (B.C. 606) it threw off the Assyrian yoke, and became the capital of the growing Babylonian empire. Under Nebuchadnezzar it became one of the most splendid cities of the ancient world.

After passing through various vicissitudes the city was occupied by Cyrus, "king of Elam," B.C. 538, who issued a decree permitting the Jews to return to their own land (Ezra 1). It then ceased to be the capital of an empire. It was again and again visited by hostile armies, till its inhabitants were all driven from their homes, and the city became a complete desolation, its very site being forgotten from among men.

On the west bank of the Euphrates, about 50 miles south of Bagdad, there is found a series of artificial mounds of vast extent. These are the ruins of this once famous proud city. These ruins are principally (1) the great mound called Babil by the Arabs. This was probably the noted Temple of Belus, which was a pyramid about 480 feet high. (2) The Kasr (i.e., "the palace"). This was the great palace of Nebuchadnezzar. It is almost a square, each side of which is about 700 feet long. The little town of Hillah, near the site of Babylon, is built almost wholly of bricks taken from this single mound. (3) A lofty mound, on the summit of which stands a modern tomb called Amran ibn-Ali. This is probably the most ancient portion of the remains of the city, and represents the ruins of the famous hanging-gardens, or perhaps of some royal palace. The utter desolation of the city once called "The glory of kingdoms" (Isa 13:19) was foretold by the prophets (Isa 13:4-22; Jer 25:12; 50:2, 3; Dan 2:31-38).

The Babylon mentioned in 1 Pet 5:13 was not Rome, as some have thought, but the literal city of Babylon, which was inhabited by many Jews at the time Peter wrote.

In Rev 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; and 18:2, "Babylon" is supposed to mean Rome, not considered as pagan, but as the prolongation of the ancient power in the papal form. Rome, pagan and papal, is regarded as one power. "The literal Babylon was the beginner and supporter of tyranny and idolatry...This city and its whole empire were taken by the Persians under Cyrus; the Persians were subdued by the Macedonians, and the Macedonians by the Romans; so that Rome succeeded to the power of old Babylon. And it was her method to adopt the worship of the false deities she had conquered; so that by her own act she became the heiress and successor of all the Babylonian idolatry, and of all that was introduced into it by the immediate successors of Babylon, and consequently of all the idolatry of the earth." Rome, or "mystical Babylon," is "that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth" (17:18).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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This article needs to be merged with BABYLON (Jewish Encyclopedia).

Simple English

File:Hammurabi's Babylonia
Map showing the Babylonian territory upon Hammurabi's ascension in 1792 BC and upon his death in 1750 BC
File:Babylon
Detail of the Ishtar Gate.

Babylon was a city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Iraq, about 85 kilometers (55 mi) south of Baghdad. All that remains of the original ancient famed city of Babylon today is a mound of broken mud-brick buildings and debris in the fertile Mesopotamian plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Babylon was at first a small town which sprung up at the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. The town flourished and attained prominence and political repute. Babylon eclipsed Nippur as the 'holy city' of Mesopotamia around the time Hammurabi first unified the Babylonian Empire, and became the capital city of the Neo-Babylonian Empire from 612 to 539 BC.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the Walls of Babylon were also famous..

Contents

=Assyrian period

= During the reign of Sennacherib of Assyria, Babylonia was in a constant state of revolt, and was suppressed only by the complete destruction of the city of Babylon. In 689 BC, its walls, temples and palaces were razed, and the rubble was thrown into the Arakhtu, the sea bordering the earlier Babylon on the south. This act shocked the religious conscience of Mesopotamia. After the murder of Sennacherib by two of his sons, his successor Esarhaddon hastened to rebuild the old city. He was crowned there, and made it his residence for part of the year.

In the later overthrow of the Assyrian Empire, the Babylonians saw another example of divine vengeance.[1]

Neo-Babylonian Chaldean Empire

Babylon threw off the Assyrian rule in 612 BC and became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Chaldean Empire.[2][3][4]

With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of building followed, and Nebuchadnezzar II (604–561 BC) made Babylon into one of the wonders of the ancient world.[5] Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including rebuilding the Etemenanki ziggurat and the construction of the Ishtar Gate — the most spectacular of eight gates that ringed the perimeter of Babylon. All that was ever found of the Original Ishtar gate was the foundation and scattered bricks.

Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), said to have been built for his homesick wife Amyitis. Whether the gardens did exist is a matter of dispute. Historians disagree about the location, and some believe it may have been confused with gardens in Nineveh.

Persia captures Babylon

In 539 BC, the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, in the famous Battle of Opis. The walls of Babylon were impenetrable, and the only way into the city was through one of its many gates or through the Euphrates, which ebbed beneath its thick walls. Cyrus devised a plan to use the Euphrates as the mode of entry to the city. He ordered large camps of troops at each point and instructed them to wait for the signal. Awaiting an evening of a national feast among Babylonians, Cyrus' troops diverted the Euphrates river upstream, causing the Euphrates to drop to about 'mid thigh level on a man' or to dry up altogether. The soldiers marched under the walls through thigh-level water or as dry as mud.

The Persian Army conquered the outlying areas of the city's interior while most Babylonians at the city center were oblivious to the breach. The account was elaborated upon by Herodotus,[6] and is also mentioned by passages in the Hebrew Bible.[7][8] Cyrus claimed the city by walking through the gates of Babylon with little or no resistance from the drunken Babylonians.

Cyrus later issued a decree permitting captive people, including the Jews, to return to their own land (as explained in the Old Testament), to allow their temple to be rebuilt back in Jerusalem.

Under Cyrus and the subsequent Persian king Darius the Great, Babylon became the capital city of the 9th Satrapy (Babylonia in the south and Athura in the north), as well as a centre of learning and scientific advancement. In Achaemenid Persia, the ancient Babylonian arts of astronomy and mathematics were revitalised and flourished, and Babylonian scholars completed maps of constellations. The city was the administrative capital of the Persian Empire, the preeminent power of the then known world, and it played a vital part in the history of that region for over two centuries. Many important archaeological discoveries have been made that can provide a better understanding of that era.[9][10]

The early Persian kings had attempted to maintain the religious ceremonies of Marduk, but by the reign of Darius III, over-taxation and the strains of numerous wars led to a deterioration of Babylon's main shrines and canals, and the disintegration of the surrounding region. Despite three attempts at rebellion in 522 BC, 521 BC and 482 BC, the land and city of Babylon remained solidly under Persian rule for two centuries, until Alexander the Great's entry in 331 BC.

References

  1. Albert Houtum-Schindler, Babylon, in Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed.
  2. Bradford, Alfred S. 2001. With arrow, sword, and spear: a history of warfare in the ancient world, 47-48. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0275952592.
  3. Curtis, Adrian; Herbert Gordon May 2007. Oxford Bible Atlas Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0191001581 p122 "chaldean+empire"&num=100 Google Books Search
  4. von Soden, Wilfred; Donald G. Schley 1996. William B. Eerdmanns ISBN 978-0802801425 p60 "chaldean+empire"&num=100#PPA60,M1 Google Books Search
  5. Saggs H.W.F. 2000. Babylonians, p165. University of California Press. ISBN 0520202228.
  6. Herodotus, Book 1, Section 191
  7. Isaiah 44:27
  8. Jeremiah 50-51
  9. Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia The British Museum. Accessed April 19, 2008.
  10. Mesopotamia: The Persians







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