After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, two new empires appeared. They were the Babylonians in the south and the Assyrians to the north.
Rise of the Babylonians and King Hammurabi
Babylon wasa city-state in Mesopotamia for many years. After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, the city was taken over by the Amorites. The city began its rise to power in 1792 BC when King Hammurabi took the throne. He was a powerful leader who wanted to expand his dominions.
Therefore, Hammurabi began to conquer other city-states. Within a few years, Hammurabi had conquered all of Mesopotamia including much of the Assyrian lands to the north.
The City of Babylon
Under Hammurabi’s rule, the city of Babylon became the most powerful city in the world. Located on the banks of the Euphrates River, the city was a major trade centre. Babylon also became the largest city in the world at the time with as many as 200,000 inhabitants.
At the center of the city was a large temple called a ziggurat. This temple looked something like a pyramid with a flat top. There was a wide street leading from the gates to the center of the city. The city was also famous for its gardens, palaces, towers, and artwork. Besides Babylonia was also the cultural center of the empire. Babyloniahs were good at art, science, music, mathematics, astronomy, and literature.
King Hammurabi established a set of laws called Hammurabi’s Code. This was the first time in history that the law was written down. It was recorded on clay tablets and tall pillars of stones called steles.
Hammurabi’s code consisted of 282 laws. Many of them were quite specific There were laws related to wages, trade, rental rates, and the sale of slaves, criminal behavior describing the penalties for stealing or damaging property. Other laws regulated adoption, marriage, and divorce.
Fall of Babylon
After Hammurabi´s death, his sons ruled the empire but they were not strong leaders and soon Babylon was conquered by the Kassites . In 612 BC Babylonia rose to power as the ruler of the empire over Mesopotamia. This second Babylonian Empire is called the neo-Babylonian Empire.
Around 616 BC King Naboplasshar took advantage of the fall of the Assyrian Empire to bring the seat of the empire back to Babylon. It was his son Nebuchadnezzar II who led Babylon back to its former glory.
Nebuchadnezzar II ruled for 43 years. He was a great military leader and expanded the empire to include much of the Middle East all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule, the city of Babylon and its temples were restored. It also became the cultural center of the world.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Nebuchadnezzar II built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon which consisted of terraces covered with all sorts of trees, flowers, and plants. The gardens is considered one of the great wonders of the ancient world.
Fall of Neo-Babylonia
After Nebuchadnezzar II died, the empire began to fall apart once again. In 529 BC, the Persians conquered Babylon and made it part of the Persian Empire.