- Sea Of Galilee #39by Brett Matthew West
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Old Babylon
Sea Of Galilee
: Sea Of Galilee #39 by Brett Matthew West
Artwork by Envision at

Did you know that for almost 292 years Babylon was the world's first city to possess a population of some 200,000 citizens?


The earliest known mention of Babylon as a small town appeared on a clay tablet from Sargon of Akkad's reign from about 2334BC to about 2279BC. At that time Babylon was under the rule of the Akkadian Empire.

Babylon was constructed along both banks of the Euphrates River, with its steep embankments that contained the river's seasonal floods. Babylon's ancient site was south of Present Day Baghdad, Iraq, and its last verified inhabitation was around the 10th Century AD.

Babylon was a small and independent city-state at the beginning of the First Babylonian Dynasty of the 19th Century BC. Hammurabi, an Amorite king, founded the Old Babylon Empire in the 18th Century BC. He built Babylon into a major city, that replaced the ancient Sumerian city of Nippur, as the empire's holy city.

Located in Present Day Al-Qadislyah Governate in central-south Iraq, Nippur had been the seat of worship for the Sumerian god Enlil. He ruled the cosmos.

Spending many years under Assyrian, Kassite, and Elamite rulers, Babylon was also the capitol of the Neo-Babylonian Empire from about 609BC to about 539BC. When this empire fell, Babylon was ruled by the Achaemenid (First Persian Empire), the Seleucids (Greeks), the Parthians (Iranians), the Romans, and the Sasanians (the last Iranian empire before the Early Muslim Conquests of the 7th-8th Centuries BC, and the longest-lived Persian Imperial dynasty).

With a population of more than 200,000 citizens, from about 1770BC to about 1670BC, and about 612BC to about 320BC, in its time, Babylon is believed to have been the largest city in the world.

The remains of Ancient Babylon can be located in Present Day Hillah, on the Hilla branch of the Euphrates River in Central Iraq, about 62 miles south of Baghdad. Hillah is a predominantly agricultural region in the Babil Governate. The tomb of the prophet Ezekiel is thought to be nearby.

All that is left of Ancient Babylon is a large hill full of broken mud-brick buildings, various debris, and several mounds, oriented north to south along the Euphrates River, that cover a large area. In the Hebrew Bible, Babylon is known as Babel. Babylon's name translates into "gate of the gods".

At one time the Euphrates River bisected Babylon. But, over time the river's course has shifted and most of the remains of Babylon's former western parts are now inundated by the flowing river. In addition, portions of Babylon's city wall to the west of the Euphrates River remain.

Only a small percentage of Ancient Babylon has been excavated producing four sites. They are:

-Babil - stands 72 feet tall at the northern end of the site. One of Nebuchadnezzar's palaces was located there.

-Amran Ibn ali - at the south end of the site, it stands 82 feet tall and is the highest mound. This was the site of the Esagila Temple of Marduk (Babylon's primary god). There is also a shrine to Ea (the Sumerian god of water, knowledge, crafts, creation, and one of the Anunaki deities of the pantheon, who's fuction was to decree the fate of humanity), and a shrine to Nabu (the Ancient Mesopotamian god of literacy, the rational arts, scribes, and wisdom). Isaiah 46:1, and Jeremiah 48:1, refer to Nabu as Nebo.

-El Kasr - the location of Nebuchadnezzar's magnificent Neo-Babylonian ziggurat Etemenanki palace that was built between 604BC and 561BC. Laying in the center of the site, this palace has been suggested as a possible inspiration for the Tower of Babel.

-Homera - a reddish mound on the site's western side. Most of the Hellenistic (Greek after the death of Alexander the Great, in about 323BC, and the emergence of the Roman rule of Babylon), are located here.

Significant contributing reasons for the lack of artifacts from Ancient Babylon being recovered incude:

-the Euphrates River's shifted course

-the Neo-Babylonians rebuilding over major parts of the city

-Babylon being pillaged for numerous revolts against foreign rulers, especially the Achaemenid and Neo-Assyria Empires in the1st Millennium BC, as well as the Hittites and the Elamites in the 2nd Millennium BC

-portions of Babylon being mined for commercial building materials

The only expedition to recover artifacts from Old Babylon was the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey's Expedition, who possibly discovered the Hanging Gardens of Babylon on March 26, 1899. These gardens had been destroyed by Sennacherib of Assyria in 696BC.

Murdered by his own sons in an effort to become his heir apparant, Sennacherib reigned about 750BC to about 681BC. He was the second king of the Sargonid Dynasty of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The Hebrew Bible describes his military campaigns in the Levant. He also rebuilt Nineveh.

During 18 years of exploring, the Koldewey Expedition also found the Processional Way of Babylon, the Ishtar Gate, the foundations of the Tower of Babel, palaces that belonged to Nebuchadnezzar, and 967 clay tablets with Sumerian literature.

Sumu-Abum, an Amorite, was the first king of the First Dynasty of Babylon (about 1830BC to about 1817BC) after declaring independence from the city-state of Kazallu, west of Mesopotamia, in Marad (an Ancient Sumerian hill city) on the west bank of the Upper Euphrates River.

Suma-la-El, an Amorite king who reigned about 1817BC to about 1781BC, is frequently named as the progenitor of the First Babylonian Dynasty.



Next Time: Sea Of Galilee #40: Neo-Babylonian Empire

Author Notes
Urial, by Envision, selected to complement my posting.


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