Ancient Mediterranean + Europe
- Babylonia, an introduction
- Ancient Babylon: excavations, restorations and modern tourism
- The Babylonian mind
- The Law Code Stele of King Hammurabi
- Hammurabi: The king who made the four quarters of the earth obedient
- Law Code of Hammurabi
- Ishtar gate and Processional Way
- Ishtar Gate
- Map of the world
- Towers of Babel
- The "Queen of the Night" relief
- Kassite Art: Unfinished Kudurru
By Dr. Senta German
"I, Nebuchadnezzar . . . magnificently adorned them with luxurious splendor for all mankind to behold in awe."
Nebuchadnezzar II, Inscription plaque of the Ishtar Gate
The chronology of Mesopotamia is complicated. Scholars refer to places (Sumer, for example) and peoples (the Babylonians), but also empires (Babylonia) and unfortunately for students of the Ancient Near East these organizing principles do not always agree. The result is that we might, for example, speak of the very ancient Babylonians starting in the 1800s B.C.E. and then also the Neo-Babylonians more than a thousand years later. What came in between you ask? Well, quite a lot, but mostly the Kassites and the Assyrians.
The Assyrian Empire which had dominated the Near East came to an end at around 600 B.C.E. due to a number of factors including military pressure by the Medes (a pastoral mountain people, again from the Zagros mountain range), the Babylonians, and possibly also civil war.
The Neo-Babylonian Empire (underlying map © Google)
A Neo-Babylonian dynasty
The Babylonians rose to power in the late 7th century and were heirs of the urban traditions which had long existed in southern Mesopotamia. They eventually ruled an empire as dominant in the Near East as that held by the Assyrians before them.
This period is called Neo-Babylonian (or new Babylonia) because Babylon had also risen to power earlier and became an independent city-state, most famously during the reign of .
In the art of the Neo-Babylonian Empire we see an effort to invoke the styles and iconography of the 3rd millennium rulers of Babylonia. In fact, one Neo-Babylonian king, , found a statue of Sargon of Akkad, set it in a temple and provided it with regular offerings.
Ishtar Gate and Processional Way (Reconstruction), Babylon, c. 575 B.C.E., glazed mud brick (Pergamon Museum, Berlin; photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
The Neo-Babylonians are most famous for their architecture, notably at their capital city, Babylon. largely rebuilt this ancient city including its walls and seven gates. It is also during this era that Nebuchadnezzar purportedly built the "Hanging Gardens of Babylon" for his wife because she missed the gardens of her homeland in Media (modern day Iran). Though mentioned by ancient Greek and Roman writers, the "Hanging Gardens" may, in fact, be legendary.
Detail, Ishtar Gate and Processional Way (Reconstruction), Babylon, c. 575 B.C.E., glazed mud brick (Pergamon Museum, Berlin; photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
The Ishtar Gate (today in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin) was the most elaborate of the inner city gates constructed in Babylon in antiquity. The whole gate was covered in glazed bricks which would have rendered the façade with a jewel-like shine. Alternating rows of lion and cattle march in a relief procession across the gleaming blue surface of the gate.
Read a chapter in our textbook, Reframing Art History, about rethinking how we approach the art of the Ancient Near East.
Essay by Dr. Senta German
Want to join the conversation?
- Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned in the old testament isn't he? What interactions would he and his empire have had with the ancient Israelites?(8 votes)
- here is the first paragraph from the wikipedia article about Nebuchadnezzar:
"Nebuchadnezzar II (Listeni/nɛbjʉkədˈnɛzər/; Aramaic: ܢܵܒܘܼ ܟܘܼܕܘܼܪܝܼ ܐܘܼܨܘܼܪ ; Hebrew: נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר Nəḇūḵaḏneṣṣar; Ancient Greek: Ναβουχοδονόσωρ Naboukhodonósôr; Arabic: نِبُوخَذنِصَّر nibūḫaḏniṣṣar; c 634 – 562 BC) was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, who reigned c. 605 BC – 562 BC. Both the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem's temple are ascribed to him. He is featured in the Book of Daniel and is mentioned in several other books of the Bible."
-so i guess he was mentioned for the destruction of the temple which most likely was brought about by war or invasion of the holy lands(12 votes)
- Why are the hanging gardens believed to be legendary? (aside from the obvious fact that they(or their ruins so to speak) have never been located.(5 votes)
- Also Herodotus (5th Century bc Greek historian) though marvelling at Babylon's glory did not mention the Hanging Garden & there is a lack of textual references from contemporary Babylon. It was later Greek writers that started to mention them. One theory is that if they were real they may have been in Assyria, it also crossed my mind that the later Persians liked their gardens and did take over the neo-Babylonian empire, but I've not seen any one else suggest this(6 votes)
- What are the legends surrounding the 'Hanging Gardens of Babylon'?(4 votes)
- See Irving Finkel's article in Clayton, P. (ed.) The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (Psychology Press, 1988) p. 38ff. Check your local library for this book.(5 votes)
- This Article doesn't state HOW the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell, this article just states the small fact. This article is only for people who want to visit this Empire because this article should be for tourist.(3 votes)
- Dear Sydney,
If it is your opinion that this article should be removed from the curriculum, you need to put your comment in the tips and thanks section. Burying it among the questions, as you have done, will not result in Khan Academy's content specialists doing anything with your excellent advice.(0 votes)
- Are neo-babylonians the same as the chaldeans?(2 votes)
- Yes. The neobabylonians were the Chaldeans(2 votes)
- Who was the best Neo-Babylonian ruler?(2 votes)
- King Nebuchadnezzar from the Neo-Babylonian Empire.(2 votes)
- tell me more i'm making a presentation for school(1 vote)
- I suggest that you look to Aunt Wikipedia and Uncle Google to provide you with the material you are needing. Either that, or go ask your librarian. Knowing where stuff can be found is Librarians' super power.(2 votes)
- In what year Babylon destroyed Jerusalem?(1 vote)
- The bible states that it was around the year 587 B.C. but I don't believe there is an exact date.(1 vote)
- what up squad hows everyone doing also how did neo-babylonians live off the land? because i can't find anything on the internet rn for it and its kinda annoying(1 vote)
- Here you go. You'll find what you're looking for here.
- What are the legends surrounding the 'Hanging Gardens of Babylon'?(1 vote)
- Herodotus claimed the outer walls were 56 miles in length, 80 feet thick and 320 feet high. Wide enough, he said, to allow two four-horse chariots to pass each other. The city also had inner walls which were "not so thick as the first, but hardly less strong." Inside these double walls were fortresses and temples containing immense statues of solid gold. Rising above the city was the famous Tower of Babel, a temple to the god Marduk, that seemed to reach to the heavens.(1 vote)