Babilone, Babiloine, Babilonie, Babylone
Babylon is one of the most famous cities of ancient Mesopotamia, and its history spans several millenia. Babylon was located near the Euphrates River in present-day Iraq. It was a prominent city in ancient times and served as the capital of the Babylonian Empire.
Babylon gained great importance under the reign of King Hammurabi in the eighteenth century BC, and later reached its height of power and influence during the Neo-Babylonian period under King Nebuchadnezzar II in the sixth century BC. The city of Babylon is famous for its grand architecture, such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and its role in various historical events and religious texts.
Babylon | History
The earliest mention of Babylon dates back to the twenty-third century BC. It began as a small town in southern Mesopotamia, part of the Akkadian Empire. Babylon rose to prominence during the reign of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC), who established the Code of Hammurabi, one of the earliest written legal codes.
Kassite and Assyrian Rule
After the decline of the Old Babylonian Empire, the Kassites ruled Babylon for several centuries (c. sixteenth to eleventh centuries BC). Assyria, a powerful neighboring empire, eventually conquered Babylon in the eighth century BC.
The Neo-Babylonian Empire emerged under the Chaldean king Nabopolassar in the late seventh century BC. Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC) expanded and beautified Babylon, constructing the famous Ishtar Gate and the Hanging Gardens (though the existence of the latter is debated). Babylon became a major cultural and economic center in the ancient world.
In 539 BC, Cyrus the Great of Persia captured Babylon, marking the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Cyrus allowed the Jews who were exiled in Babylon to return to their homeland, a significant event known as the Babylonian Captivity.
Hellenistic and Parthian Periods
Alexander the Great conquered Babylon in 331 BC, and it became part of the Seleucid Empire after his death. During the Hellenistic and Parthian periods, Babylon continued to play a role in regional trade and culture.
Roman, Sassanian and Islamic Periods
The Roman Empire briefly controlled Babylon in the second century AD. The Sassanian Empire, a Persian dynasty, later took control of the region. With the Islamic conquest in the seventh century, Babylon’s importance declined, and the city fell into ruins. The nearby city of Baghdad became the new cultural and political center.
Archaeological Excavations and UNESCO
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, extensive archaeological excavations were conducted at Babylon, revealing the remains of the ancient city. Notable structures include the Ishtar Gate and the partially reconstructed processional way. Babylon was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019, recognizing its historical significance.
Caliph of Baghdad | The Legend of King Arthur