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Babylonia ( Assyrian : Karduniaš ; ancient Egyptian : Sangar ) refers to a landscape on the lower reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers , between today's Iraqi city ​​of Baghdad and the Persian Gulf . The cultural center of this fertile plain in ancient times was the city of Babylon , which during its existence was conquered and ruled by rulers from numerous tribes.

Old Babylonian Empire

The first Babylonian Empire was founded in 1894/1830 BC. Founded by the Semitic tribe of the Amorites under Sumu-abum . He had the Imgur-Enlil wall built around the city , but it was only completed by his successor Sumulael . Hammurapi was from 1792 BC The 6th king for 43 years. At first he knew how to exploit the political situation without armed conflicts with the neighboring city-states and empires, and soon controlled important trade routes through the narrowest point between the Euphrates and Tigris. In a few years, Babylon and the hitherto insignificant city-state rose to become a dominant power in the region.

Little is known of the first 28 years of Hammurapi's reign. The king largely stayed out of wars and did not conquer any new territories. Domestically, he initially canceled debts. In doing so, he gained the loyalty of his subjects. Babylon was expanded with defenses, especially with a high city wall. Hammurapi put on extensive irrigation systems and had great buildings built; he organized the country through a tight administration and drafted a uniform legal system, the Codex Hammurapi . This body of law, with 282 paragraphs, recorded the rights of all classes. The laws were written on steles and clay tablets and put up publicly in the cities. Hammurabi made the city god of Babylon, Marduk , the chief god of the country.

Towards the end of the third decade of his rule, Hammurapi's policy changed from 1765 BC. Chr. Fundamental. He recognized the intention of conquering the neighboring kingdom of Elam , as this wanted to win Babylon as an ally against Larsa , but at the same time Larsa as an ally against Babylon. Hammurapi took the initiative and joined forces with Larsa and Mari against Elam. The elaborate alliance strategy was recorded by messengers on clay tablets and transmitted between the realms; these tablets were found in Mari in 1930. With these contemporary documents, Hammurapi became recognizable as one of the first politicians in history to be active in foreign policy. When Elam seemed to win the war that ensued, revolts and mutinies in the area and in Elam's army saved Babylon from conquest and possible destruction. Hammurapi's alliance policy had paid off. Next he conquered together with Mari Larsa, because this had not, as previously agreed, provided troops against Elam. This conquest also extended his empire over the former kingdoms of Sumer and Akkad . Through the weakening of Elam and the further cleverly timed subjugations of Mari, Subartu and Esnunna , Hammurapi also became ruler of Assur . This made Babylonia the dominant empire in Mesopotamia .

Even his son had to go to war against the rebellious tribes in the south of the empire. Little by little the empire lost influence and realm of control. It was finally weakened by numerous internal unrest and attacks from outside, by the Hittite king Muršili I in 1595/1531 BC. Captured. The so-called Old Babylonian Empire came to an end.

Successor dynasties

The following period is known as the dark period of Babylonian history because scriptures are rare. The Kassites ruled for about 400 years (see King List ). They expanded the empire from the Euphrates to the Zagros Mountains and made the country a great power. In the 15th century BC It belonged to the four most important powers in the Middle East (next to the Egyptians , Mittani and Hittites). A short time later, Assyria broke away from Central Iran and began a territorial expansion that also touched Babylonian territory.

1155 BC The city was conquered by the Elamites. They plundered and pillaged and, among other things, brought the Hammurabi law stele to their capital, Susa . King Nebuchadnezzar I of Isin succeeded in 1137 BC. To depose the Kassite dynasty and establish the second dynasty of Isin in Babylon. He then proceeded against the Elamites, who were defeated after years of war. Their capital Susa was completely destroyed.

Every attempt by Nebuchadnezzar to expand the empire was observed and partially prevented by the Assyrians . However, there was no direct confrontation. A short time later, Assyrian conquered Babylon. The destruction of a Babylonian temple was considered sacrilege by the Assyrians . King Shalmaneser III (858–824 BC) married his son Shamschi-Adad V to the Babylonian Šammuramat . It can be assumed that they have a daughter, or at least close relative of King I. Marduk-zakir-šumi has been. It is disputed whether, after the death of her husband, she assumed power as co-regent of the underage son herself for a few years until Adad-nīrārī III. was old enough to inherit. What is certain is that the friendly rapprochement of the two kingdoms culminating in an alliance under Shalmaneser III. was not permanent. Although Marduk-zākir-šumi I. made his ally in the uprising his eldest son support and after his death also concluded a contract with the heir to the throne, but tried to exploit the weakness of the Assyrians and treated him as a vassal. Not least with the active participation of Šammuramat, who is considered to be the model of the legend of Semiramis , the Assyrian empire soon regained its strength and now, conversely, forced the heir to the throne in Babylon into the role of vassal.

Attempts by the Babylonians to break the power of the Assyrians with the help of the Elamites were unsuccessful. 689 BC The Assyrian Sennacherib destroyed the city completely. His son Assurhaddon tried to rebuild the city and let it shine in its old splendor. At this point, Assyria changed its policy towards Babylon and took a tough course. The result was wars and destruction. 648 BC After a two-year siege, Babylon had to surrender to the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal . After the death of Assurbanipal, the last great king of Assyria, his empire fell apart.

New Babylonian Empire

Outlines of the New Babylonian Empire (about 580 BC)

In Babylon, General Nabopolassar ascended in 626 BC. The throne. With him the so-called New Babylonian Empire began. He united the local tribes and allied himself with the Medes , who inherited the Elamites in the east. In this context, the two empires formed an alliance. In addition, the son of Nabopolassar married the granddaughter of the Mede king. The treaty of alliance opened the way to Nineveh , the Assyrian capital. You could 612 BC. After a three-month siege. By 610 BC The rest of the scattered Assyrian army were also completely wiped out.

After Nabopolassar's death, Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC) came to the throne. He developed extraordinary skills as a statesman, military leader, peacemaker and builder. Nebuchadnezzar had the temples rebuilt in all the cities of the country, built canals, the so-called Median Wall and the processional street with the Ishtar Gate .

Nebuchadnezzar was at war with Syria and Yehuda . The subject countries were subject to tribute and had to pay high taxes to Babylon. Yehuda tried several uprisings, which after their suppression led to a two-time conquest and finally in 587 BC. Led to the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of Solomon , the highest shrine of the Jews. Parts of the population were led into Babylonian exile , which was not given up until the Persian era.

In the year 562 BC BC Nebuchadnezzar died after 40 years of reign. The rapid decline of the Babylonian Empire began. The successors took turns in quick succession. Amel-Marduk , son of Nebuchadnezzar, succeeded the royal throne. After only two years, Amel-Marduk was killed in an uprising and the Babylonian general Nergal-šarra-usur ascended the throne. Strong disputes with the priesthood led to the fact that in 556 BC. BC Nabonidus seized the throne. Nabonid was a follower of the god Sin and wanted to curb the power of the Marduk priesthood. This brought him violent disputes over the reorganization of the agricultural and leasing system.

Nabonid left the protection of the empire to his son Belshazzar and withdrew to the Tayma oasis , 1,000 kilometers away from Babylon. Thus he controlled the important trade routes and was able to exert economic pressure on Egypt. At the same time, however, the absence of the king meant that the traditional New Year celebrations in Babylon and thus also the worship of the god Marduk were canceled. The priests and people therefore turned away from Nabonidus. After the Persians had conquered the Lydians , Babylonia was enclosed by the Persian Empire and became 539 BC. Defeated by Cyrus II after a brief military conflict.

Follow-up time

After the victory of the Persians, Babylonia became an important satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire . The Aramaic language became the official language. The scientists continued to use the Akkadian language and script. Many scholars from Egypt , Persia , India and Greece came to expand their knowledge. In the 5th century BC The astronomers of Babylon calculated the solar year and developed in 410 BC. The first horoscope . During this time Chaldean astrology was developed from the astral teachings of the Babylonians , which later formed the basis for the Hellenistic.

Alexander the Great met in 333 BC. On the Persian armed forces and defeated them in the battles of Issus and Gaugamela . The Achaemenid Persian Empire was then annexed to the Alexander Empire . The Greeks tolerated the Babylonian culture and added the theater and additional achievements of Greek civilization to it . After the death of Alexander the great, wars of his quarreling military leaders devastated the entire area. Looting and destruction resulted in famine . After the Greek-Macedonian Seleucids were ousted , the Iranian Parthians took power in Babylonia towards the end of the 2nd century BC. Chr.

See also


Web links

Commons : Babylonia  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Babylonia  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Marc Van de Mieroop : King Hammurabi of Babylon. Plackwell, Oxford 2005. ISBN 1-4051-2660-4 (English)
  2. ^ A b c Günther Schauerte , Bernd Müller-Neuhof , Katja Sternitzke , Joachim Marzahn (eds.): Babylon Truth. Hirmer 2008.