Old Babylonian time

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The old Orient
The city gate of Nimrud
Timeline based on calibrated C 14 data
Epipalaeolithic 12000-9500 BC Chr.
Pre-ceramic Neolithic 9500-6400 BC Chr.
PPNA 9500-8800 BC Chr.
PPNB 8800-7000 BC Chr.
PPNC 7000-6400 BC Chr.
Ceramic Neolithic 6400-5800 BC Chr.
Umm Dabaghiyah culture 6000-5800 BC Chr.
Hassuna culture 5800-5260 BC Chr.
Samarra culture 5500-5000 BC Chr.
Transition to the Chalcolithic 5800-4500 BC Chr.
Halaf culture 5500-5000 BC Chr.
Chalcolithic 4500-3600 BC Chr.
Obed time 5000-4000 BC Chr.
Uruk time 4000-3100 / 3000 BC Chr.
Early Bronze Age 3000-2000 BC Chr.
Jemdet Nasr time 3000-2800 BC Chr.
Early dynasty 2900 / 2800-2340 BC Chr.
Battery life 2340-2200 BC Chr.
New Sumerian / Ur-III period 2340-2000 BC Chr.
Middle Bronze Age 2000-1550 BC Chr.
Isin Larsa Period / Ancient Assyrian Period 2000–1800 BC Chr.
Old Babylonian time 1800–1595 BC Chr.
Late Bronze Age 1550-1150 BC Chr.
Checkout time 1580-1200 BC Chr.
Central Assyrian Period 1400-1000 BC Chr.
Iron age 1150-600 BC Chr.
Isin II time 1160-1026 BC Chr.
Neo-Assyrian time 1000-600 BC Chr.
Neo-Babylonian Period 1025-627 BC Chr.
Late Babylonian Period 626-539 BC Chr.
Achaemenid period 539-330 BC Chr.
Years according to the middle chronology (rounded)

The ancient Babylonian period is a period of ancient oriental history that began with the rise of Babylon under Ḫammu-rapi around 1800 BC. Begins and with the conquest of Babylon by the Hittite king Muršili I in 1595 BC. Ends. It marks the last phase of the Middle Bronze Age in Mesopotamia . For philological reasons, ancient oriental studies in particular also count the preceding Isin-Larsa period from this epoch.

historical development

As early as the Isin Larsa period, nomads from the central Arab region invaded Mesopotamia and founded their own dynasties there. At the same time, the Sumerian language died out as a spoken language, while Akkadian became increasingly popular. While Isin and Larsa were able to maintain a supremacy at first, in 1894 BC. An Amorite dynasty came to power with Šumu-abum . The kings of this 1st dynasty of Babylon gradually incorporated surrounding areas. When they finally took Dilbat , Sippar and Kiš , Babylon had become a dominant power. Based on this, the 6th king of this dynasty, Ḫammu-rapi, was able to establish his great empire. Through a clever alliance policy with the Upper Mesopotamian ruler Šamši-Adad and with the kings of Elam he succeeded in successively conquering Ešnunna (1773 BC), Larsa (1763 BC) and Mari (1761 BC ), see above that he could eventually rule all of Mesopotamia. In the course of time, cities in southern Mesopotamia in particular had to struggle with soil salinization. In addition, the bureaucracy of the Babylonian state grew increasingly, with the inheritance of offices and corruption increasing. Ḫammu-rapi's successors therefore had to struggle with unrest to a considerable extent. This gradually led to the collapse of the empire until the Hittites invaded Babylon in 1595 and brought the epoch to an end.

Cultural development

In the ancient Babylonian period the so-called individualistic turn took place in Mesopotamia, which began as early as the Isin-Larsa period. In this context, the traditional palace and temple economy lost its importance, while private individuals assumed an ever greater role. The first rich merchant dynasties emerged. Their economic success is documented in the now increasing number of private legal and business documents. This is also reflected in the regulations found in legal collections.


The material culture of the ancient Babylonian period is reasonably well documented by archaeological finds. Important sites are Ešnunna, Ur , Uruk , Tell Uḫaimir , Tell Harmal and Nerēbtum .


In this epoch, too, houses were mainly built from adobe bricks. In Ur, however, bricks were used for the walls of the lower floors.

The temples of Tell Harmal, Nerēbtum and Ešnunna are particularly outstanding buildings from this era . In Uruk, the Sîn-kašid Palace stood , while the Eanna has hardly changed. A ziggurat was also built in Tell Uḫaimir, where Kiš was relocated .


Typically, the dead were buried under the floors of larger rooms in the houses. In these rooms there were often altars, the outer walls of which were modeled on the decor of temples, as well as other cult institutions. Under the Sîn-kašid palace, the so-called prince's grave, an outstanding mausoleum was uncovered.


A number of well-known bronze statuettes date from the old Babylonian period , such as that of Etel-pî-Šamaš , the Lunanna statuette from Larsa and the famous Isimud statuette from Išǧali . Terracotta reliefs are also characteristic, the function of which is largely unknown. They were usually made in prefabricated forms and often show armed deities in cult or war scenes, as well as mythological figures such as Ḫumbaba , as well as animals and furniture or naked women. The somewhat older Burney relief also belongs to the latter category . Erotic representations are also not uncommon. Also known are the stela of the Codex Hammurapi , which has stylistic similarities to the investiture of Zimri-Lim .


The glyptic went through some changes in ancient Babylonian times. The so-called introductory scene, which had been widespread since the early III period , was continued. However, the deities were now increasingly represented standing on their attribute animal. The prayer now stepped directly in front of the deity, while an interceding personal deity stood in the background. Some of these seals also received a standard inscription. At the same time, motifs from the Akkadian period experienced a renaissance. Animal fights, in particular, are increasingly represented in Old Babylonian.


Johannes Renz:  Babylonia. In: Michaela Bauks, Klaus Koenen, Stefan Alkier (eds.): The scientific biblical dictionary on the Internet (WiBiLex), Stuttgart 2006 ff., Accessed on May 12, 2017.


  1. in the Levant
  2. a b c d in southern Mesopotamia
  3. a b c in northern Mesopotamia