*Includes historic accounts about the city and its history.
*Profiles Hammurabi, Nebuchadnezzar and the Hanging Gardens.
*Includes a bibliography for further reading.
*Includes a table of contents.
The ancient world was full of many fantastic cities and places, and like today’s major cities, the great ancient cities were hubs of trade, religion, and science. Writing was first invented in ancient cities, and many important scientific discoveries were also made in them, some of which are still used in the modern world. Among the many cities of the ancient world, Rome and Athens may come to mind first, but the city of Babylon in the land of Mesopotamia was already an ancient, venerated city when the others were still inconsequential settlements.
Today, Babylon has become a byword for greed, excess, and licentiousness, mostly due to its mention in the Bible, but a closer examination reveals that Babylon was so much more, and even perhaps the most important city in the ancient world. Ancient Babylon was home to great dynasties that produced some of the world’s most influential leaders, most notably Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar, and these rulers invoked their wills on the entire ancient Near East and have been remembered as both progressive and cruel all at the same time. Babylon was also the seat of culture in ancient Mesopotamia and the place where scholars made amazing scientific advances that would not be eclipsed for several centuries. An examination of ancient Babylon demonstrates that it was truly the first great city in the ancient world.
Of course, the sheer span of history between Babylon’s power and today has produced plenty of historical questions and controversy. One of the things people most closely associate Babylon with is the Hanging Gardens, which, like the Great Pyramid of Giza, were considered both a technological marvel and an aesthetic masterpiece. Ancient historians believed that the Hanging Gardens were constructed around the 7th century B.C. after the second rise of Babylon, which would make them the second-oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and they were reputedly created by the biblical Nebuchadnezzar II (the king who conquered Judea) to please his homesick wife, after the model of Egyptian pleasure gardens. However, in 1993, British Assyriologist, Stephanie Dalley, proposed a theory that the Hanging Gardens were ordered built by the Assyrian King Sennacherib a century earlier for his giant palace at Nineveh instead. She believed that the two sites were easily confused by ancient sources, resulting in the Gardens being incorrectly located in Babylon a century later.
Babylon was also instrumental in the development of the region’s religions. Ancient Mesopotamian religion continues to captivate people for many of the same reasons today’s best known religions and their histories fascinate people. The religion practiced by the Ancient Mesopotamians provides a certain mix between the mundane and the surreal, and at the same time aspects of it are both familiar and bizarre to people today. Some find themselves drawn to it based on its preeminent position in religious history as the oldest documented religion in the world. Others become fascinated with the close connections between some of the Mesopotamian religious texts, which include a flood story, a creation story and a story of the righteous sufferer, and their parallels in the Hebrew Bible.
Babylon: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Mesopotamia’s Greatest City traces the history of the city and its rise as the center of the Babylonian empire. Along with pictures depicting important people, places, and events, you will learn about the city of Babylon like never before, in no time at all.