Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Benjamin W. Porter
At 2,100 acres, Babylon was the largest and most important urban center in ancient Mesopotamia for over 2,500 years. The ancient city is located on the east bank of the Euphrates River, about 60 miles southwest of Baghdad in modern Iraq. Boasting monumental palaces, temples, and ziggurats, as well as ordinary houses and shops, Babylon was an important political and religious center for several ancient Near Eastern societies, including the Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, and Greeks. Examination of their texts and architecture reveal that the Babylonians' dedication to religion, philosophy, and astronomy is misrepresented in our modern popular imagination, which considers Babylon a city of decadent and immoral inhabitants. Scholars have pieced together the city's history through archaeological excavations, cuneiform records, and classical sources. While a high-water table has flooded the city's first architectural levels, early sources mention that Akkadian King Sargon destroyed the city around 2340 BCE. The city's importance ...