AskDefine | Define Babylonian

Dictionary Definition

Babylonian adj : of or relating to the city of Babylon or its people or culture; "Babylonian religion"


1 an inhabitant of ancient Babylon
2 the ideographic and syllabic writing system in which the ancient Babylonian language was written

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Of or pertaining to the real or to the mystical Babylon, or to the ancient kingdom of Babylonia; Chaldean.


  1. An inhabitant of Babylonia (which included Chaldea); a Chaldean.
  2. An astrologer; so called because the Chaldeans were remarkable for the study of astrology.

Proper noun

  1. The extinct Akkadian language.

External links

Extensive Definition

Babylonia was a state in southern Mesopotamia, in modern Iraq, combining the territories of Sumer and Akkad. The earliest mention of the city of Babylon can be found in a tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad, dating back to the 23rd century BC.


The Akkadians, a Semitic people, had early on come to dominate the region around Kish — including Babylon and the parts of Mesopotamia just north of Sumer, whose civilization deeply influenced that of Akkad. An area intensely irrigated, and strategically located for trade routes and commerce, it was often under threat from outsiders throughout its history.
By the "neo-Sumerian" or Ur-III period, Babylon had become a centre for Amorite migrants from west of the Euphrates who had settled north of Sumer. The Amorites were another Semitic-speaking people, who were at first regarded as uncivilized and nomadic shepherds by the more settled, crop-growing, Akkadians.

Old Babylonian period

At around 2000 BC, following the collapse of the "Ur-III" dynasty at the hands of the Elamites, Semitic Amorites from west of the Euphrates River gained control over most of Mesopotamia, where they formed a series of small kingdoms. During the first centuries of what is called the "Amorite period", the most powerful city state was Isin, although Shamshi-Adad I came close to uniting the more northern regions. One of these Amorite dynasties was established in the city-state of Babylon, which would ultimately take over the others and form the first Babylonian empire, during what is also called the Old Babylonian Period.
The city of Babylon obtained hegemony over Mesopotamia under their sixth ruler, Hammurabi (c. 1780– c. 1750 BC; dates highly uncertain). He was a very efficient ruler, writing an influential law code, Hammurabi's Code and giving the region stability after turbulent times, thereby transforming it into the central power of Mesopotamia.
Babylonian beliefs held the king as an agent of Marduk, and the city of Babylon as a "holy city" where any legitimate ruler of Mesopotamia had to be crowned. A natural development was the establishment of a bureaucracy, with taxation and centralized government, to allow the king to exert his control.
A great literary revival followed the recovery of Babylonian independence. One of the most important works of this "First Dynasty of Babylon", as it was called by the native historians, was the compilation of a code of laws. This was made by order of Hammurabi after the expulsion of the Elamites and the settlement of his kingdom. In 1901, a copy of the Code of Hammurabi was discovered by J. De Morgan and V. Scheil at Susa, where it had been taken as plunder. That copy is now in the Louvre.
The Babylonians engaged in regular trade with city-states to the west; with Babylonian officials or troops sometimes passing to Syria and Canaan, and Amorite merchants operating throughout Mesopotamia. The Babylonian monarchy's western connections remained strong for quite some time. An Amorite named Abi-ramu or Abram was the father of a witness to a deed dated to the reign of Hammurabi's grandfather; Ammi-Ditana, great-grandson of Hammurabi, still titled himself "king of the land of the Amorites". Ammi-Ditana's father and son also bore Canaanite names: Abi-Eshuh and Ammisaduqa.
The armies of Babylonia were well-disciplined, and they conquered the city-states of Isin, Eshnunna, Uruk, and the kingdom of Mari. But Mesopotamia had no natural, defensible boundaries, making it vulnerable to attack. Trade and culture thrived for around 150 years until Babylon was sacked by the Hittites in the reign of Samsu-Ditana, ushering in the age of the Kassites who filled in the power vacuum.
The date of the sack of Babylon by the Hittite king Mursilis I is considered crucial to the various calculations of the early Chronology of the ancient Near East, since both a solar and a lunar eclipse are said to have occurred in the month of Sivan that year, according to ancient records. The event has been variously calculated to dates ranging from 1499 BC to 1659 BC; the "Middle Chronology" most widely used today places it in 1595 BC.

Kassite period

The 15th king of the dynasty was Samsu-Ditana, son of Ammisaduqa. He was overthrown following the sack of Babylon by the Hittite king Mursili I, and Babylonia was turned over to the Kassites (Kossaeans) from the mountains of Iran, with whom Samsu-Iluna had already come into conflict in his 6th year.
The fall of Babylon is taken as a fixed point in the discussion of the chronology of the Ancient Near East. Suggestions for its precise date vary by as much as 150 years, corresponding to the uncertainty regarding the length of the "Dark Age" of the ensuing Bronze Age collapse, resulting in the shift of the entire Bronze Age chronology of Mesopotamia with regard to the chronology of Ancient Egypt. Possible dates for the sack of Babylon are:
The Kassite dynasty was founded by Kandis or Gandash of Mari. The Kassites renamed Babylon "Kar-Duniash", and their rule lasted for 576 years. With this foreign dominion — that offers a striking analogy to the contemporary rule of the Hyksos in ancient Egypt — Babylonia lost its empire over western Asia. The high-priests of Ashur made themselves kings of Assyria. Most divine attributes ascribed to the Semitic kings of Babylonia disappeared at this time; the title of God was never given to a Kassite sovereign. However, Babylon continued to be the capital of the kingdom and the 'holy' city of western Asia, where the priests were all-powerful, and the only place where the right to inheritance of the old Babylonian empire could be conferred.
The Kassite period lasted for several centuries, until 1125 BC, when Babylon was conquered by Shutruk-Nahhunte of Elam, and re-conquered a few years later by Nebuchadrezzar I.

Early Iron Age

In the Early Iron Age, from 1125 to 732 BC, Babylon was again ruled by native dynasties, beginning with Nebuchadrezzar I of Isin (Dynasty IV). Dynasty IX begins with Nabonassar, whose rule (from 748 BC) heads Ptolemy's Canon of Kings. In 729 BC, Babylon was conquered into the Neo-Assyrian Empire by Tiglath-Pileser III and remained under Assyrian rule for a century, until the 620s BC revolt of Nabopolassar.

Neo-Babylonian Empire (Chaldean Era)

Babylonia in culture

Babylonia, and particularly its capital city Babylon, has long held a place in Abrahamic religions as a symbol of excess and dissolute power. Many references are made to Babylon in the Bible, both literally and allegorically. The mentions in the Tanakh tend to be historical or prophetic, while New Testament references are more likely figurative, or cryptic references to pagan Rome. The legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Tower of Babel are seen as symbols of luxurious and arrogant power respectively.

Further reading

  • Ascalone, Enrico. Mesopotamia: Assyrians, Sumerians, Babylonians (Dictionaries of Civilizations; 1). Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007 (paperback, ISBN 0520252667).
  • Bryant, Tamera. The Life and Times of Hammurabi.
  • Eves, Howard. An Introduction to the History of Mathematics.
  • King, Leonard William. Babylonian Religion and Mythology.
  • Leick, Gwendolyn. The Babylonians: An Introduction.
  • Leick, Gwendolyn. Mesopotamia.
  • Lloyd, Seton. The Archaeology of Mesopotamia: From the Old Stone Age to the Persian Conquest.
  • Mieroop, Marc Van de. King Hammurabi Of Babylon: A Biography.
  • Nemet-Nejat, Karen Rhea. Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia.
  • Oates, Joan. Babylon.
  • Oppenheim, A. Leo. Ancient Mesopotamia : Portrait of a Dead Civilization.
  • Pallis, Svend Aage. The Antiquity of Iraq.
  • Roux, Georges. Ancient Iraq.
  • Saggs, Henry Babylonians.
  • Saggs, Henry The Greatness That Was Babylon.
  • Schomp, Virginia. Ancient Mesopotamia: The Sumerians, Babylonians, And Assyrians.
  • Spence, Lewis. Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria.

External links

Many of these articles were originally based on content from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.


Babylonian in Tosk Albanian: Babylon
Babylonian in Asturian: Babilonia
Babylonian in Bengali: ব্যাবিলনিয়া
Babylonian in Breton: Babilonia
Babylonian in Bulgarian: Вавилония
Babylonian in Catalan: Babilònia
Babylonian in Czech: Babylonie
Babylonian in Danish: Babylonien
Babylonian in German: Babylonien
Babylonian in Spanish: Babilonia
Babylonian in Esperanto: Babilonio
Babylonian in Basque: Babiloniar Inperioa
Babylonian in Persian: تمدن بابل
Babylonian in French: Babylone (royaume)
Babylonian in Galician: Babilonia
Babylonian in Korean: 바빌로니아
Babylonian in Croatian: Babilonija
Babylonian in Indonesian: Babilonia
Babylonian in Italian: Impero babilonese
Babylonian in Georgian: ბაბილონეთი
Babylonian in Ladino: Babilonia
Babylonian in Lithuanian: Babilonija
Babylonian in Hungarian: Babilónia
Babylonian in Dutch: Babylonië
Babylonian in Japanese: バビロニア
Babylonian in Norwegian: Babylonia
Babylonian in Occitan (post 1500): Babilònia (reialme)
Babylonian in Polish: Babilonia
Babylonian in Albanian: Babilonia
Babylonian in Sicilian: Babbilònia
Babylonian in Simple English: Babylonia
Babylonian in Slovak: Babylónia
Babylonian in Slovenian: Babilonija
Babylonian in Serbo-Croatian: Babilonija
Babylonian in Finnish: Babylonia
Babylonian in Swedish: Babylonien
Babylonian in Turkish: Babil
Babylonian in Ukrainian: Вавилонія
Babylonian in Urdu: بابی لونیا
Babylonian in Chinese: 巴比倫尼亞

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1