Babylonian Empire | Definition, Meaning, Culture, History & Facts

Two new empires came to power after the Akkadian Empire was destroyed. In the south, they were the Babylonians, and in the north, they were the Assyrians. The first people to establish an empire that would span all of Mesopotamia were the Babylonians.

Rise of the Babylonians and King Hammurabi

In Mesopotamia, the city-state of Babylon existed for a long time. The Amorites occupied the city and resided there after the Akkadian Empire fell. When King Hammurabi assumed the throne in 1792 BC, the city started to climb to greatness. He was a strong and competent commander who desired to rule over more than just Babylon.

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Soon after ascending to the throne, Hammurabi started subduing neighboring city-states. In just a few years, Hammurabi had seized control over the entirety of Mesopotamia, including a sizable portion of the northern Assyrian territory.

The Babylonian City

The city of Babylon rose to prominence as the world’s most powerful city under Hammurabi’s leadership. The city, which stood on the Euphrates River’s banks, served as a significant crossroads for trade, bringing together fresh concepts and goods. At its height, Babylon had 200,000 residents, making it the largest metropolis in the world at the time.

A huge temple known as a ziggurat stood in the middle of the city. Archaeologists believe that this temple was 300 feet tall and resembled a pyramid with a flat top. From the gates, a broad street led into the heart of the city. The gardens, castles, towers, and artwork in the city were also well-known. To witness that would have been an incredible sight.

The city served as the empire’s cultural hub as well. Here, music, mathematics, astronomy, art, science, and literature might all flourish.

The Hammurabi Code

The Hammurabi Code, created by King Hammurabi, contains strict laws. The law was codified for the first time in recorded history at this period. It was written down on steles, or towering stone pillars, as well as on clay tablets.

The 282 laws of Hammurabi’s code were in all. Despite the fact that many of them were extremely specific, they were supposed to serve as general suggestions. There were regulations governing several aspects of commerce, including salaries, trade, rent, and the selling of slaves. The consequences for stealing or causing property damage were outlined in laws governing criminal behavior. Even the laws governing marriage, divorce, and adoption existed.

Fall of Babylon

Hammurabi’s sons took authority after his death. They were weak leaders, though, and soon Babylon weakened. The Kassites took control of Babylon in 1595. For 400 years they would be in power. The Assyrians would eventually take control. After a long period of decline, Babylonia regained control of the empire over Mesopotamia in 612 BC. Neo-Babylonian Empire is the name given to this second Babylonian Empire.

Empire of Neo-Babylonian

King Nabopolassar used the demise of the Assyrian Empire in around 616 BC to relocate the capital of the empire back to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar II, his son, was the one who restored Babylon to its former splendor.

For 43 years, Nebuchadnezzar II was in power. He was a brilliant military strategist who grew the empire to encompass a large portion of the Middle East and the Mediterranean Sea. This included the conquest of the Hebrews and the subsequent 70-year enslavement of them, as described in the Bible. The city of Babylon and its temples were rebuilt during Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. Similar to the time of Hammurabi’s administration, it also rose to become the global hub of culture.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were constructed by Nebuchadnezzar II. There were a lot of terraces here, and they went up to a height of about 75 feet. They were completely covered in all kinds of trees, plants, and flowers. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world is thought to be the gardens.

Neo-Babylonia’s fall

The empire started to disintegrate once more after Nebuchadnezzar II’s death. Babylon was subjugated by the Persians in 529 BC and incorporated into the Persian Empire.

Interesting Facts About the Babylonians:

For defense, Nebuchadnezzar had a moat constructed around the city of Babylon. What a sight that must have been in the desert!

About 55 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq, a pile of demolished mud structures is all that’s left of the ancient city of Babylon.

Babylon was taken as part of Alexander the Great’s conquests. When he fell ill and passed away, he was residing in the city.

Iraq has renovated or constructed the city. The genuine relics and ruins are probably covered by the recreation.