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The Formation of Ancient Babylon

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Around 1900BC, the Amorites (a people from Syria) moved into Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. These people were skilled in all sorts of crafts such as metal working, perfumery and beekeeping. They herded sheep and goats, and farmed barley.

The Amorites made their capital at the city of Babylon by the Euphrates. During the late 1700s BC, their king Hammurabi conquered the whole of Mesopotamia, which then became known as Babylonia.

King Hammurabi

King Hammurabi

The land they had conquered contained people of many different cultures and laws, so King Hammurabi decided to unify the laws, which were inscribed on a stone stela, or tablet, of black basalt rock. They include laws about money, property, the family and the rights of slaves. The phrase “an eye for an eye and a tooth from a tooth” comes from Hammurabi’s laws. According to the law, a wrongdoer had to be punished in a way that suited the crime.

The code of Hammurabi

The code of Hammurabi

Babylon became a sophisticated city and a great center for science, literature and learning. Babylonian scholars developed the numbering system based on groups of 60 – this is how we get our 60-minute hour and 360-degree circle.

A stone map showing the known land masses surrounded by a ring of ocean. This map was made by Babylonian scholars more than 3000 years ago. They labelled it with wedge-shaped cuneiform writing.

A stone map showing the known land masses surrounded by a ring of ocean. This map was made by Babylonian scholars more than 3000 years ago. They labelled it with wedge-shaped cuneiform writing.

The dragon symbolized Marduk, supreme god of the Babylonians. They worshipped many gods, incluing the sun god Shamash, and Ishtar, the goddess of War and love.

The dragon symbolized Marduk, supreme god of the Babylonians. They worshipped many gods, incluing the sun god Shamash, and Ishtar, the goddess of War and love.

Many of the neighboring rulers were jealous of Babylon’s power and the wealth Babylonians acquired from trade. The city was attacked many times. Hittites (from the area that is now Turkey) raided Babylon, and then Kassites, from mountains to the east, invaded and took over the city. The Kassites turned Babylon into and important religious center, and built a large temple to their supreme God, Marduk.

The Ishtar Gate, decorated with blue stone, was the eigth gate to the inner city of Babylon.  It was constructed in about 575 BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II. It was speckled with images of lions.

The Ishtar Gate, decorated with blue stone, was the eigth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II. It was speckled with images of lions.

At around 900BC, Babylon was invaded again by the Chaldeans, horsemen from the Gulf coast. Their greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar II, rebuilt the city magnificently. He gave it massive mud brick walls, strong gates, and a seven-storey ziggurat (massive structures). The king also built a palace for himself and the Hanging Gardens, which was one of the Seven Wonders or the ancient world.

King Nebuchadnezzar built fabulous hanging, or terraced, gardens for his wife Amytis to remind her of the green hill country of her home in Media. No one today really knows what the gardens looked like, and some even question their existence.

King Nebuchadnezzar built fabulous hanging, or terraced, gardens for his wife Amytis to remind her of the green hill country of her home in Media. No one today really knows what the gardens looked like, and some even question their existence.

Key Dates

1900BC: Babylon becomes chief city of the Amorites.

1792-1750BC: Reign of King Hammurabi, law-giver and conqueror of Mesopotamia.

1595-1155BC: The Kassites rule the city of Babylon.

900BC: The Chaldeans take over Babylon and begin to rebuild it.

605-562BC: Reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. He builds the great Handing Gardens. Babylon is the most sophisticated city in the Near East.

Babylon became the largest city in western Asia. The trade along the rivers and via the caravan routes leading eastward to Iran made it wealthy once more. This glorious city survived until it was again invaded, this time by the Persians.

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Comments

Danida (author) from London on May 26, 2014:

@AudreyHowitt: Thank you!

Audrey Howitt from California on May 08, 2014:

Such an interesting hub!!

Danida (author) from London on March 24, 2014:

@Eiddwen: Thank you!

Eiddwen from Wales on March 24, 2014:

A brilliant hub; so interesting, well presented and voted up.

eddy.

Danida (author) from London on March 24, 2014:

@Searchinsany: Thanks :)

Alexander Gibb from UK on March 22, 2014:

Very interesting and informative.

Danida (author) from London on March 22, 2014:

@NathaNater: Yup :) I love learning about ancient civilizations. I wonder what they'll teach people about us in thousands of years...

Danida (author) from London on March 22, 2014:

@Lady Guinevere: It's crazy how many people invaded the place! I agree that it's jealousy though, that's generally the drive for all battles and hate. Thanks for vote and share!

Debra Allen from West By God on March 22, 2014:

Love this! Rome also conquered this land some years later and I do believe that when Christians say bad things about this place that they are very jealous too. Heck Rome wants all and everything and to some extent still does. I voted up , interesting and useful and I am going to share it.

NathaNater on March 22, 2014:

That is very fascinating. It's interesting to learn about some of the oldest civilizations on Earth.