History and Archaeology of Babylon



By the Editors of the Madain Project

Ancient Babylon was a key city-kingdom in ancient Mesopotamia from the eighteenth to sixth centuries BCE. It was built on the Euphrates river and divided in equal parts along its left and right banks, with steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. The city of Babylon was originally a small Akkadian town dating from the period of the Akkadian Empire circa 2300 BCE. The town became part of a small independent city-state with the rise of the First Babylonian dynasty in the 19th century BCE. The city, built along both banks of the Euphrates river, had steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. The site of the ancient city lies just south of present-day Baghdad.

Back to Babylonia / Mesopotamia / Middle East

Brief History of Babylon

The history of ancient city of Babylon is an epic of a city that rose to prominence as one of the most influential centers of civilization in ancient Mesopotamia. Its history spans over two millennia, with periods of grandeur, conquest, and cultural achievements.

Early Babylon: The city of Babylon was founded in the early 2nd millennium BCE. It initially served as a provincial town in the Akkadian Empire. However, it wasn't until the 18th century BCE that Babylon began to assert its independence and grow in significance.

Hammurabi's Babylon: The most famous period in Babylon's history is associated with Hammurabi, who ruled in the 18th century BCE. Hammurabi's Code, one of the earliest known legal codes, was established during his reign. Under his leadership, Babylon became a major political and cultural center.

Kassite and Assyrian Dominance: Following the decline of Hammurabi's dynasty, Babylon came under the rule of the Kassites and later the Assyrians. The city lost its independence for several centuries but remained culturally vibrant.

Neo-Babylonian Empire: In the 7th century BCE, the Neo-Babylonian Empire, under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar II, emerged as a dominant force in the region. Nebuchadnezzar is famous for the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. During this period, Babylon reached its zenith of power and prosperity.

Cyrus the Great and Persian Rule: In 539 BCE, the Persian Empire, led by Cyrus the Great, conquered Babylon. This marked the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Cyrus is known for his benevolent treatment of conquered peoples, including the Jews, which is recounted in the Bible.

History of Ancient Babylon

Archaeology of Babylon

Featured Article Ishtar Gate

"The in-situ remains of the Ishtar Gate refer to the original archaeological remnants or the preserved portions or sections of the Ishtar Gate that have been preserved in their original location. Constructed out of fired-mud brick, these remains are also adorned with the same reliefs in alternating rows of bas-relief mušḫuššu (dragons), aurochs (bulls), and lions, symbolizing the gods Marduk, Adad, and Ishtar respectively. The bricks of the Ishtar gate were made from finely textured clay pressed into wooden forms including the impressions of the mythical-animals.

Overview / Babylonian Remains / Reconstruction in Pergamon Museum

Featured Video Babylon Reconstructed

The reconstructed ruins of ancient Babylon, also known as the "Babel". The world’s first-known civil code was written here; Alexander the Great is believed to have died here; countless biblical stories take place here.

During Saddam Hussein's era, there were efforts to reconstruct and restore some of the ancient remains of Babylon, the iconic city in Iraq. These reconstruction projects were undertaken with the aim of showcasing Iraq's historical and cultural heritage. During this, various structures were reconstructed and renovated, such as a replica of Ishtar Gate, parts of Nebuchadnezzar's palace, and the Southern Palace.

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