Babylon

capital city of Babylonia and an archaeological site in modern-day Iraq

Babylon was the capital city of the ancient Babylonian empire, which itself is a term referring to either of two separate empires in the Mesopotamian area in antiquity. These two empires achieved regional dominance between the 19th and 15th centuries BC, and again between the 7th and 6th centuries BC. The city, built along both banks of the Euphrates river, had steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. The earliest known mention of Babylon as a small town appears on a clay tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad (2334–2279 BC) of the Akkadian Empire. The site of the ancient city lies just south of present-day Baghdad. The last known record of habitation of the town dates from the 10th century AD, when it was referred to as the small village of Babel. The town became part of a small independent city-state with the rise of the First Babylonian dynasty in the 19th century BC. The Amorite king Hammurabi founded the short-lived Old Babylonian Empire in the 18th century BC. He built Babylon into a major city and declared himself its king. Southern Mesopotamia became known as Babylonia, and Babylon eclipsed Nippur as the region's holy city. The empire waned under Hammurabi's son Samsu-iluna, and Babylon spent long periods under Assyrian, Kassite and Elamite domination. After the Assyrians had destroyed and then rebuilt it, Babylon became the capital of the short-lived Neo-Babylonian Empire, a neo-Assyrian successor state, from 609 to 539 BC. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. 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 remains of the city are in present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq, about 85 kilometres (53 mi) south of Baghdad. They comprise a large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris. 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 other 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.UNESCO inscribed Babylon as a World Heritage Site in 2019.
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