Babylon was a key kingdom in ancient Mesopotamia from the 18th to the 6th centuries BC. The name-giving capital city was built on the Euphrates river and divided into equal parts along its left and right banks, with steep banks to contain the river’s seasonal floods. Babylon was originally a small Akkadian town dating from the period of the Akkadian Empire 2300 BCE.
It was the most famous city from ancient Mesopotamia whose ruins lie in modern-day Iraq 59 miles (94 kilometers) southwest of Baghdad. The name is thought to derive from bav-il or bav-ilim which, in the Akkadian language of the time, meant ‘Gate of God’ or `Gate of the Gods’ and Babylon’ coming from Greek.
BABYLONIA was bounded on the north by Assyria, on the east by Elam, or Susiana, on the west by the Desert of Arabia, and on the south by Arabia and the Persian Gulf. The country is watered by the lower courses of the Euphrates and Tigris, and in fact, it may be considered as entirely the gift of those streams.
Babylonia is, in general, a long level tract of alluvial soil, which has been deposited through several thousand years at the mouths of these rivers. Through the accumulation of new ground at the points where the Tigris and Euphrates discharge themselves into the Persian Gulf, the Babylonian territory has steadily increased from age to age. This culture was developed in parallel with Indus Valley Civilization
The inhabitants of Babylonia have always mainly consisted of two classes, the agricultural population, and dwellers in towns on one side, and the wandering, pastoral, tent-dwelling tribes on the other. The greatest feature of the country was its agriculture, which was mainly carried on through artificial irrigation, the whole country being intersected with canals, some of them navigable and of great size, their banks in some places being from twenty to thirty feet high.
Babylonia is without doubt the-oldest civilized country in Asia, and even outside that continent only Egypt can rival it in this respect; but the history of Babylonia has an interest beyond that of Egypt, on account of its more intimate connection with the origin of our own civilization. Babylonia was the center from which civilization spread into Assyria, from thence to Asia Minor and Phoenicia, from these to Greece and Rome, and from Rome to modern Europe.
Education and Art
In ancient times, received study and attention, while the arts of building, sculpture, painting, gem-engraving, metal-work, weaving, and many others made proportionate progress. Accadian literature was very extensive, and the libraries with which the country was stocked were full of treatises on all the branches of knowledge pursued by the ancient Chaldeans. One of the most famous of these libraries was that at Agane’, established by Sargon. It contained the great Babylonian work on astronomy and astrology in seventy books, which was called the ” Illumination of Bel,” and was afterward translated into Greek by the historian Berosus.
In spite of the skill and knowledge of the Babylonians and their wonderful progress in arts and sciences, they had a religion of the lowest and most degrading kind. True insight in to natural phenomena was prevented, and progress beyond the surface of things stopped by a religion which had a multitude of gods, who were supposed to bring about in an irregular and capricious manner all the changes in nature and all the misfortunes which happened to the people ; thus foresight and medicine were neglected and unavailing prayers and useless sacrifices offered to propitiate the deities who were imagined to hold the destiny of the human race in their hands.
The Babylonians were essentially a peaceful race. War was seldom indulged in by them, except it was forced upon them, either by their political position or through the action of states outside their own borders. Only once in their history are they known to have made a great empire, and that was in the time of Nebuchadnezzar.
The wonderful system of writing, called, from the shape of the characters, cuneiform, or wedge-shaped, was invented by the original Turanian inhabitants of Babylonia.
The chief cities of Babylonia were the following
|Old Name||New Name|
|Ur or Uru, literally the City||Mugheir|
|Erech or Uruk||Warka|
|Nipur, the city of Bel||Niffer|
|Babylon or Babel, originally called Ca-dimarra “Gate of God“||Hillah|
|Agand, near Sippara||Part of Sura|
|Tiggaba or Kute (Cuthah)||Tel Ibrahim|
|Kisu or Kis||Hymar|