Arabic: bābil

Ancient city that was located on the east side of the Euphrates river, and capital of Babylonia in 2nd and 1st millennia BCE. Its ruins are found 90 km south of modern Baghdad in Iraq.

The main foundation for Babylon’s economy was trade routes between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as agriculture fed by the rich Euphrates River.

Babylon is today famous mainly for its size and architecture from the period of Nebuchadnezzar 2 in the 6th century BCE, when it covered about 10 km² and was by far the largest city in the world. But this city only survived for few decades before it was sacked by the Persians.

Babylon’s ziggurat was most probably the historical foundation for the Biblical legend of the Tower of Babel. The ziggurat was a temple tower that rose in stepped stages, which must have appeared to be very impressive in its time, even if it hardly exceeded 50 metres. Another important architectural contribution from Babylon was the hanging gardens, counted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World in antiquity.

Around 2200 BCE: Babylon is reported as the site of a temple.
Around 2050: Babylon is part of a state ruled from the city of Ur.
About 1894: Babylon becomes an independent city state, under the Amorite king Sumu-abum.
1792-1750: Reign of Hammurabi, who extends the kingdom from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.
1595: Captured by the Hittites.
1590: Captured by the Kassites. Under their rule, Babylon becomes the capital, administrative center and religious center of Babylonia.
1158: Captured by the Elamites.
730: Babylon and Babylonia fall to the Assyrians, and become a province in the Assyrian Empire.
689: King Sennacherib of Assyria has Babylon destroyed and flooded.
Around 680: Babylon is rebuilt by the Assyrian king Esarhaddon.
625: Captured by the Chaldeans.
605-562: Reign of Nebuchadnezzar 2, who extends the kingdom of Babylonia to Palestine and Syria. Under his rule, new temples and palaces were erected, together with walls and gates. At its peak, Babylon covers an area of about 10 km².
539: Babylon is sacked by the Persian king Cyrus 2 the Great, and becomes a provincial town in the Persian Empire. It is soon converted into the residence city of the Persian crown prince.
482: A local revolt makes the Persian king Xerxes 1 destroy several of the most important religious buildings of Babylon.
330: Captured by Alexander the Great, but his plans to return it to former glory are not carried out since he dies only a few years later.
312: Captured by the Seleucids, who make it their capital.
Around 290: Babylon is left as the capital as Seleucia becomes the new capital. This means the final decline for Babylon, and over the following centuries, it gradually lost its importance as well as population.


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