THE EMPIRE OF BABYLON WAS ALSO KNOWN AS CHALDEAN EMPIRE,WAS PERIOD OF MESOPOTAMIAN HISTORY WHICH BEGAN IN 626 BC ,DATING FROM THE PERIOD OF AKKADIAN EMPIRE C.2300 BC. AND ENDED IN 539 BC.
The Chaldeans, who inhabited the coastal area near the Persian Gulf, had never been entirely pacified by the Assyrians. About 630 Nabopolassar became king of the Chaldeans. In 626 he forced the Assyrians out of Uruk and crowned himself king of Babylonia. He took part in the wars aimed at the destruction of Assyria. At the same time, he began to restore the dilapidated network of canals in the cities of Babylonia, particularly those in Babylon itself. He fought against the Assyrian Ashur-uballit II and then against Egypt, his successes alternating with misfortunes. In 605 Nabopolassar died in Babylon.
The Ishtar Gate, named after a Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, was one of eight gateways that provided entry to the inner city of Babylon during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (reign 605-562 B.C.). It was decorated with glazed blue bricks that depicted alternating rows of bulls and dragons.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon evoke a romantic picture of lush greenery and colorful flowers cascading from the sky. The grandeur of their sight must have been awe-inspiring, which is why Herodotus would have considered them one of his Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. However, not only are the Hanging Gardens of Babylon not standing today, but their entire existence is debated. Because of the lack of documentation of them in the chronicles of Babylonian history, many doubt they were ever there. They were built in the year 600 p.n.e. At the request of King Nebuchadnezzar II, who gave it to his wife, Amytis, who, upon his arrival in Babylon, lacked the lush vegetation of his native country, Medii. It is unclear why they were called Semiramida, an Assyrian queen who lived two centuries earlier.
The Babylonian Empire was the most powerful state in the ancient world after the fall of the Assyrian empire (612 BCE). Its capital Babylon was beautifully adorned by king Nebuchadnezzar, who erected several famous buildings. Even after the Babylonian Empire had been overthrown by the Persian king Cyrus the Great (539), the city itself remained an important cultural center.After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, two new empires rose to power. They were the Babylonians in the south and the Assyrians to the north. The Babylonians were the first to form an empire that would encompass all of Mesopotamia.The Akkadian Empire usually refers to the Semitic speaking state that grew up around the city of Akkad north of Sumer, and reached its greatest extent under Sargon of Akkad (2296-2240 B.C.E.). It has been described as the first true empire in world history. It was a flourishing civilization in one of the most fertile areas of the globe, the alluvian plain of Southern Mesopotamia that fed into the later Babylonian Civilization. Women appear to have been respected and to have played a significant role in the religious cultus. King Sargon was the first ruler to unite the peoples of Southern Mesopotamia into a single political unit. He established a strong, centralized state. Cities, though, used to independence competed for preeminence, which appears to have eventually brought about the Empire's decline. It was followed by the Babylonian Civilization.
The Tower of Babel,origin myth meant to explain why the world's peoples speak different languages.Some modern scholars have associated the Tower of Babel with known structures, notably the Etemenanki, a ziggurat dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Marduk by Nabopolassar, the king of Babylonia circa 610 BCE.The Great Ziggurat of Babylon was 91 metres (300 ft) in height. Alexander the Great ordered it to be demolished circa 331 BCE in preparation for a reconstruction that his death forestalled.
The Chaldeans, who inhabited the coastal area near the Persian Gulf, had never been entirely pacified by the Assyrians. About 630 Nabopolassar became king of the Chaldeans. In 626 he forced the Assyrians out of Uruk and crowned himself king of Babylonia. He took part in the wars aimed at the destruction of Assyria. At the same time, he began to restore the dilapidated network of canals in the cities of Babylonia, particularly those in Babylon itself. He fought against the Assyrian Ashur-uballit II and then against Egypt, his successes alternating with misfortunes. In 605 Nabopolassar died in Babylon.Nebuchadrezzar II had named his oldest son, Nabu-kudurri-usur, after the famous king of the second dynasty of Isin, trained him carefully for his prospective kingship, and shared responsibility with him. When the father died in 605, Nebuchadrezzar was with his army in Syria; he had just crushed the Egyptians near Carchemish in a cruel, bloody battle and pursued them into the south. On receiving the news of his father's death, Nebuchadrezzar returned immediately to Babylon. In his numerous building inscriptions he tells but rarely of his many wars; most of them end with prayers. The Babylonian chronicle is extant only for the years 605-594, and not much is known from other sources about the later years of this famous king. He went very often to Syria and Palestine, at first to drive out the Egyptians. In 604 he took the Philistine city of Ashkelon. In 601 he tried to push forward into Egypt but was forced to pull back after a bloody, undecided battle and to regroup his army in Babylonia. After smaller incursions against the Arabs of Syria, he attacked Palestine at the end of 598. King Jehoiakim of Judah had rebelled, counting on help from Egypt. According to the chronicle, Jerusalem was taken on March 16, 597. Jehoiakim had died during the siege, and his son, King Johoiachin, together with at least 3,000 Jews, was led into exile in Babylonia. They were treated well there, according to the documents. Zedekiah was appointed the new king. In 596, when danger threatened from the east, Nebuchadrezzar marched to the Tigris River and induced the enemy to withdraw. After a revolt in Babylonia had been crushed with much bloodshed, there were other campaigns in the west.
Nebuchadnezzar II was the most powerful of the Babylonian kings. His name is explained to mean "Nebo is the protector against misfortune." He led his army against Pharaoh-necho, king of Egypt, defeated him at Carchemish, B.C. 605, recovered Coele-Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine, took Jerusalem, pressed forward to Egypt, and was engaged in that country or upon its borders when intelligence arrived which recalled him hastily to Babylon.
The Babylonian empire under Nebuchadrezzar extended to the Egyptian border. It had a well-functioning administrative system. Though he had to collect extremely high taxes and tributes in order to maintain his armies and carry out his building projects, Nebuchadrezzar made Babylonia one of the richest lands in western Asia the more astonishing because it had been rather poor when it was ruled by the Assyrians. Babylon was the largest city of the "civilized world." Nebuchadrezzar maintained the existing canal systems and built many supplementary canals, making the land even more fertile. Trade and commerce flourished during his reign.Nebuchadrezzar's building activities surpassed those of most of the Assyrian kings. He fortified the old double walls of Babylon, adding another triple wall outside the old wall. In addition, he erected another wall, the Median Wall, north of the city between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers. According to Greek estimates, the Median Wall may have been about 100 feet high. He enlarged the old palace and added many wings, so that hundreds of rooms with large inner courts were now at the disposal of the central offices of the empire. Colourful glazed-tile bas-reliefs decorated the walls. Terrace gardens, called the Hanging Gardens in later accounts, were added. Hundreds of thousands of workers must have been required for these projects. The temples were objects of special concern. He devoted himself first and foremost to the completion of Etemenanki, the "Tower of Babel." Construction of this building began in the time of Nebuchadrezzar I, about 1110. It stood as a "building ruin" until the reign of Esarhaddon of Assyria, who resumed building about 680 but did not finish. Nebuchadrezzar II was able to complete the whole building. The mean dimensions of Etemenanki are to be found in the Esagila Tablet, which has been known since the late 19th century. Its base measured about 300 feet on each side, and it was 300 feet in height. There were five terracelike gradations surmounted by a temple, the whole tower being about twice the height of those of other temples. The wide street used for processions led along the eastern side by the inner city walls and crossed at the enormous Ishtar Gate with its world-renowned bas-relief tiles. Nebuchadrezzar also built many smaller temples throughout the country.The Ishtar Gate was constructed by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II circa 575 BCE. It was the eighth gate of the city of Babylon and was the main entrance into the city. The Ishtar Gate was part of Nebuchadnezzar's plan to beautify his empire's capital and during the first half of the 6th century BCE, he also restored the temple of Marduk and built the renowned wonder: the Hanging Gardens as part of this plan. The magnificence of the Ishtar Gate was so well known that it made the initial list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. However, it was later replaced by the Lighthouse of Alexandria, but some authors (Antipater of Sidon and Calliamchus of Cyrene) wrote that the "Gates of Ishtar" and "Walls of Babylon" should still be considered one of the wonders.
In 539 BC, Cyrus invaded Babylonia. Nabonidus sent his son Belshazzar to head off the huge Persian army; however, already massively outnumbered, Belshazzar was betrayed by Gobryas, Governor of Assyria, who switched his forces over to the Persian side. The Babylonian forces were overwhelmed at the battle of Opis. Nabonidus fled to Borsippa, and on 12 October, after Cyrus' engineers had diverted the waters of the Euphrates, "the soldiers of Cyrus entered Babylon without fighting." Belshazzar in Xenophon is reported to have been killed, but his account is not held to be reliable here. Nabonidus surrendered and was deported. Gutian guards were placed at the gates of the great temple of Bel, where the services continued without interruption. Cyrus arrived in Babylon on 3 October, Gobryas having acted for him in his absence. Gobryas was then made governor of the province of Babylon.
Babylon was not Cyrus’s first victory, but it was the most earth-shattering. October, 539 BC. Cyrus rode into Babylon as its new king, adding the greatest empire in the world, the Babylonian empire, to his increasing holdings. That moment has been remembered as one of liberation.The end of Babylon,in 539 B.C. under their king Cyrus II. He also devoted himself to the renovation of many temples, taking an especially keen interest in old inscriptions. He gave preference to his god Sin and had powerful enemies in the priesthood of the Marduk temple. Modern excavators have found fragments of propaganda poems written against Nabonidus and also in support of him. Internal difficulties and the recognition that the narrow strip of land from the Persian Gulf to Syria could not be defended against a major attack from the east induced Nabonidus to leave Babylonia around 552 and to reside in Taima (Tayma') in northern Arabia. There he organized an Arabian province with the assistance of Jewish mercenaries. His viceroy in Babylonia was his son Bel-shar-usur, the Belshazzar of the Book of Daniel in the Bible. Cyrus turned this to his own advantage by annexing Media in 550. Nabonidus, in turn, allied himself with Croesus of Lydia in order to fight Cyrus. Yet, when Cyrus attacked Lydia and annexed it in 546, Nabonidus was not able to help Croesus. Cyrus bode his time. In 542 Nabonidus returned to Babylonia, where his son had been able to maintain good order in external matters but had not overcome a growing internal opposition to his father. Consequently, Nabonidus' career after his return was short-lived, though he tried hard to regain the support of the Babylonians. He appointed his daughter to be high priestess of the god Sin in Ur, thus returning to the Sumerian-Old Babylonian religious tradition. The priests of Marduk looked to Cyrus, hoping to have better relations with him than with Nabonidus; they promised Cyrus the surrender of Babylon without a fight if he would grant them their privileges in return. In 539 Cyrus attacked northern Babylonia with a large army, defeating Nabonidus, and entered the city of Babylon without a battle. The other cities did not offer any resistance either. Nabonidus surrendered, receiving a small territory in eastern Iran. Tradition has confused him with his great predecessor Nebuchadrezzar II. It became a territory under the Persian crown but kept its cultural autonomy. Even the racially mixed western part of the Babylonian empire submitted without resistance.Babylon would fall to the forces of Cyrus the Great, who incorporated the city into the Persian Empire. About two centuries later, the city would fall again to Alexander the Great, who made it the capital of his own short-lived empire, which collapsed after his death in 323 B.C. Babylon then fell into a period of decline and eventually became abandoned, falling into ruin.