Babylon (City)Babylon - Babylon was one of the oldest and greatest cities in all antiquity. According to Genesis 10:9-10, it was founded by the mighty hunter, Nimrod; the same man who built the Tower of Babel, no doubt a very early Ziggurat. Its name likely comes from an old Akkadian word which means "gate of the gods". Because Babylon and Tower of Babel are so similar sounding, many visitors to the city in ancient times thought the temple of Marduk, Etemenanki, was the Biblical tower. But that was a temple of the Neo-Babylonian era. There is another Ziggurat seven miles southwest of Babylon at Borsippa (modern Birs Nimrud) which is even more commonly associated with the ancient tower. References to Babylon date all the way back to the Akkadian period, but it is probably even older. Unfortunately, digging at the site is limited to a certain depth because of a high water table; so determining the actual age is virtually impossible.


But the city was of little importance until the Amorites invaded from the West in late third to early second millennium B.C.. The greatest Amorite king, Hammurabi, made Babylon his capital and put it on the map as a major city. He built the first temple to Marduk, Esagila, there. However, after the city was sacked by the Hittites, it entered a period of decline. When the Assyrians controlled the region, Babylon was under direct control of the Assyrians, but was constantly revolting. It stormed back once again during the Neo-Babylonian, or Chaldean, Empire.


Babylon (City)Under Nebuchadnezzar II, the city reached its greatest opulence. The aforementioned Etemenanki was rebuilt and expanded upon. The famed Ishtar Gate was built. And, most famously, the Hanging Gardens, were supposedly built. Babylon was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 539 B.C. and never regained independence. It did revolt under King Xerxes, shortly before his famous invasion of Greece, but the revolt was crushed and the city's temples destroyed. When it fell into Alexander the Great's hands, he restored many of the demolished buildings, although, Etemenanki, was too badly damaged. The city was essentially destroyed and abandoned by the Parthian Empire about 123 B.C.. Some of what we know about ancient Babylon comes from a Chaldean historian named Berossus who was born at the time or just before Alexander conquered it. His work Babyloniaca (history of Babylon) does not survive extant, but parts of it are referenced in other works.