BABYLON, A BRIEF INDRODUCTION -25TH TO 6TH BC

The native people which populated the first Kingdom of Babylon were Akkadians, but the first royal dynasty was of Amorite origin. Amorites trace their origins from the territory of today’s Syria and they spoke a Semitic language. In most ancient account Amorites are included as one of the tribes of Canaan, an infamous territory which numerous ancient text describe as a hotbed of cruel ritual sacrifices which were performed by numerous tribes there.

The oldest Sumerian texts dating from around 25 century BC called the land of Amorites “Mar.tu”. In those texts this tribe is described as nomadic and barbaric. In 21st century BC a great draught devastated the lands west of Babylon so Amorites migrated eastwards into Babylon.

This draught was a cataclysmic event which was a cause of downfall of many ancient kingdoms. As these were the dramatic times of a global cataclysm it is no wonder that ancient text from Babylon mention a 180km wall that was built as a barrier against influx of barbaric Amorites into civilized area of Babylon.

The first king of Babylon of which extensive accounts exist is Hammurabi. As was with other rulers of ancient kingdoms, Hammurabi was considered a deity and not a mere mortal human. He reigned over kingdom almost half of century during the 18th century BC, and history remembers his as a lawgiver and warrior which greatly increased the power of Babylon.

Although Hammurabi made Babylon mighty his successor failed to protect his legacy because he lost some northern territories to Akkadian ruler Puzur Sin. About same time native Akkadians overthrew Amorite rule in southern part of the kingdom  and introduced there Sealand Dynasty of native Akkadians.

Hummurabi’s successors were not able to preserve the power which the mighty ruler accomplished during his reign and were losing territories to Elam on the east and to Kassites to the north and west until a final blow occurred with Hittite invasion of Babylon at the beginning of 16th century BC. This blow finally overthrew the once mighty Amorite dynasty of Babylon. For some reason the mighty Hittites which hail from territory of modern day Turkey decided that they will not remain in Babylon but instead gave the rule over kingdom to their Kassite allies.

Who were these Kassites?

Kassites were the military aristocracy originating from area of Zagros Mountains, and in their warrior cult they worshipped chariot and the horse.It is interesting that their language did not belong neither to Indo-European nor to Semitic language family which is quite enigmatic. The fact that they were allies of Indo-European Hittites and that many scholars connect them with Indo-European migrations probably suggests they were of white race like Hittites from the north. The ascent of Kassite dynasty as new rulers of Babylon is not a simple change of rule, because after 7 centuries of Amorite rule over Babylon the new people of different racial and cultural background occupied the throne in the 15th century BC. This accomplishment is not a small one by any means because Babylon at that time was the biggest city in the whole world with over 200 000 inhabitants, and estimated area of the city was 10 square km.

This Kassite dynasty ruled Babylon from 15th to 11th century BC and during this rule the city of Babylon was renamed to Karanduniash. In 11th century BC they were defeated by Assyrians, when Assyrian king Tukulti Ninurta took the throne.

This rule of Assyrians was a long one but marked with incessant revolts until finally native chief Nabopolasar in alliance with Iranian Medes succeeded to overthrow Asyrrian rule in 6th century BC establishing the Chaldean empire. This marked the beginning of a true renaissance of mighty Babylon resulting in a vast architectural activity because once again the great city was liberated from foreign rule. Some of great architectural accomplishments from this time are the Ishtar gate and ziggurat Etemenanki, as well as famous hanging gardens of Babylon.

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