The city of Babylon was the capital of the ancient country of Babylonia in southern Mesopotamia, the remains of this city can be found just north of the contemporanean Al Hillah city in the Babil Province in Iraq around 85 kilometers south of Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. Its name derives from the Akkadian word “babilani” that means “The Gate of God”.
The ancient Babylon was located between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers and its monumental size and its amazing appearance were considered for long time a Biblical myth. Nevertheless, during the XIX century, archaeological excavations showed that extraordinary stories about this legendary city, most cases were true.
At the beginning 3000 years BC, the city was a small town. The city reached its peak when the first Babylonian dynasty took the political power. In this period (around 2300 BC) Babylon was considered a “holy city”. With the years the power and population of Babylon waned and around 2000 BC the city was invaded by Amorites a nomadic tribe of Semitic language.
The first Babylonian dynasty was born around 1800 BC and it was established by Sumu-abum, in this moment the city was the capital of the Hammurabi’s Empire but at the beginning Babylon controlled only a little territory around the city. It was during this period that the famous Code of laws of Hammurabi was created.
Historians believe that Babylon was the largest city of the World between 1770 and 1670 BC and from 612 to 320 BC. It is probably that the city reached 200 000 inhabitants in its greatest splendor.
During the Assyrian period Babylon lost its importance and Nineveh became the capital of the empire. In this period Babylon was currently scenery of revolts against the Assyrian reign of Sennacherib therefore the city was destroyed, its temples and buildings were razed. Because of this fact Sennacherib was killed. After Sennacherib’s death the city was reconstructed by his successor Esarhaddon, but when Esarhaddon died his elder son Shamash-shum-ukin leaded a rebellion against his brother Assurbanipal who ruled in Nineveh; but, Esarhaddon was defeated by Assurbanipal.
In 625 the king Nabopolassar took the power and established a new dynasty with Babylon as its capital. Historians call this period “Neo- Babylonian”. Around 630 BC the city reaches another age of splendor when Babylon was the capital of the Neo Babylonian Empire. During this time it believes that the famous Hanging Gardens would have been constructed in the government of Nebuchadnezzar who inherited the throne of Nabopolassar. Nebuchadnezzar ruled for almost 40 years; he constructed the Hanging Gardens, he destroyed Jerusalem and carried Jews to Babylon.
Unfortunately to Babylon the son of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar was not efficient and in 539 Cyrus the Great king of Persia invaded Babylon. During the reigns of Cirus and Darius the Great, Babylon was the capital of the 9th Satrapy and an important scientific center where astronomy and mathematics were studied. Babylon was under Persian rules by two centuries.
In 331 the king of Persia Darius II was defeated by Alexander the Great, therefore Babylon was occupied by Alexander’s troops, which did not destroyed the city or looted the buildings as it was traditional in that time. During the brief reign of Alexander the city flourished again but when the Great King died, its empire was divided and Babylon lost its importance. In 275 most citizens of Babylon were transported to the new capital of Mesopotamia the city of Seleucia. This fact was the beginning of the end to Babylon that became a forgotten ghost city, until the archaeological excavations in the XX century.
Recently in 1985 the dictator Saddam Hussein started a reconstruction of the ancient city of Babylon, but unfortunately the ruins were not restored to their original state. Besides, after Gulf War Hussein try to build a modern palace over the ancient ruins. In 2003 the American invasion of Iraq stopped this irresponsible project of the dictator.
Today there are several plans of ONU and the Iraqi leaders to restore the ancient Babylon and turn it the new cultural icon of Iraq and a great world tourist landmark.
Wonders of Babylon
Wonders in world map
The legend says that the King Nebuchadnezzar constructed the gardens to please his wife Amytis. They were amazing terraces with beautiful flowers and tree around the palace of Nebuchadnezzar in the city of Babylon