( Babylon )

Babylon was an ancient city located on the lower Euphrates river in southern Mesopotamia, within modern-day Iraq. Babylon functioned as the main cultural and political centre of the Akkadian-speaking region of Babylonia, with its rulers establishing two important empires in antiquity, namely the 19th–16th century BC Old Babylonian Empire and the 7th–6th century BC Neo-Babylonian Empire, and the city would also be used as a regional capital of other empires, such as the Achaemenid Empire. Babylon was one of the most important urban centres of the ancient Near East until its decline during the Hellenistic period.

The earliest known mention of Babylon as a small town appears on a clay tablet from the reign of Shar-Kali-Sharri (2217–2193 BC) of the Akkadian Empire. Babylon was merely a religious and cultural centre at this point and neither an independent state nor a large city; like the r...Read more

Babylon was an ancient city located on the lower Euphrates river in southern Mesopotamia, within modern-day Iraq. Babylon functioned as the main cultural and political centre of the Akkadian-speaking region of Babylonia, with its rulers establishing two important empires in antiquity, namely the 19th–16th century BC Old Babylonian Empire and the 7th–6th century BC Neo-Babylonian Empire, and the city would also be used as a regional capital of other empires, such as the Achaemenid Empire. Babylon was one of the most important urban centres of the ancient Near East until its decline during the Hellenistic period.

The earliest known mention of Babylon as a small town appears on a clay tablet from the reign of Shar-Kali-Sharri (2217–2193 BC) of the Akkadian Empire. Babylon was merely a religious and cultural centre at this point and neither an independent state nor a large city; like the rest of Mesopotamia, it was subject to the Akkadian Empire which united all the Akkadian and Sumerian speakers under one rule. After the collapse of the Akkadian Empire, the south Mesopotamian region was dominated by the Gutian people for a few decades before the rise of the Third Dynasty of Ur, which encompassed the whole of Mesopotamia, including the town of Babylon.

The town became part of a small independent city-state with the rise of the first Babylonian Empire, now known as the Old Babylonian Empire, in the 19th century BC. The Amorite king Hammurabi founded the short-lived Old Babylonian Empire in the 18th century BC. He built Babylon into a major city and declared himself its king. Southern Mesopotamia became known as Babylonia, and Babylon eclipsed Nippur as the region's holy city. The empire waned under Hammurabi's son Samsu-iluna, and Babylon spent long periods under Assyrian, Kassite and Elamite domination. After the Assyrians had destroyed and then rebuilt it, Babylon became the capital of the short-lived Neo-Babylonian Empire from 609 to 539 BC. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, allegedly existing between approximately 600 BC to ~1 AD. However, there are questions about whether the Hanging Gardens of Babylon even existed, as there is no mention within any extant Babylonian texts of its existence.After the fall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the city came under the rule of the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, Roman, Sassanid, and Muslim empires. The last known habitation of the town dates from the 11th century AD, when it was referred to as the "small village of Babel".

It has been estimated that Babylon was the largest city in the world c. 1770 – c. 1670 BC, and again c. 612 – c. 320 BC. It was perhaps the first city to reach a population above 200,000. Estimates for the maximum extent of its area range from 890 to 900 ha (2,200 acres).

The remains of the city are in present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq, about 85 km (53 mi) south of Baghdad, and its boundaries have been based on the perimeter of the ancient outer city walls, an area of about 1,054.3 hectares (2,605 acres). They comprise a large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris. The main sources of information about Babylon—excavation of the site itself, references in cuneiform texts found elsewhere in Mesopotamia, references in the Bible, descriptions in other classical writing (especially by Herodotus), and second-hand descriptions (citing the work of Ctesias and Berossus)—present an incomplete and sometimes contradictory picture of the ancient city, even at its peak in the sixth century BC. UNESCO inscribed Babylon as a World Heritage Site in 2019. The site receives thousands of visitors each year, almost all of whom are Iraqis. Construction is rapidly increasing, which has caused encroachments on the ruins.

 The Queen of the Night relief. The figure could be an aspect of the goddess Ishtar, Babylonian goddess of sex and love.

The first attested mention of Babylon was in the late 3rd millennium BC during the Akkadian Empire reign of ruler Shar-Kali-Sharri one of whose year names mentions building two temples there. Babylon was ruled by ensi (governors) for the empire. Some of the known governors were Abba, Arši-aḫ, Itūr-ilum, Murteli, Unabatal, and Puzur-Tutu. After that nothing is heard of the city until the time of Sumu-la-El. After around 1950 BC Amorite kingdoms will appear in Uruk and Larsa in the south.[1]

Old Babylonian period  Map showing the Babylonian territory upon Hammurabi's ascension in 1792 BC and upon his death in 1750 BC Old Babylonian cylinder seal, hematite. This seal was probably made in a workshop at Sippar (about 65 km or 40 mi north of Babylon on the map above) either during, or shortly before, the reign of Hammurabi.[2] It depicts the king making an animal offering to the sun god Shamash. Linescan camera image of the cylinder seal above (reversed to resemble an impression)

According to a Babylonian king list, Amorite rule in Babylon began (c. 19th or 18th century BC) with a chieftain named Sumu-abum, who declared independence from the neighboring city-state of Kazallu. Sumu-la-El, whose dates may be concurrent with those of Sumu-abum, is usually given as the progenitor of the First Babylonian dynasty. Both are credited with building the walls of Babylon. In any case, the records describe Sumu-la-El's military successes establishing a regional sphere of influence for Babylon.[3]

Babylon was initially a minor city-state, and controlled little surrounding territory; its first four Amorite rulers did not assume the title of king. The older and more powerful states of Elam, Isin, and Larsa overshadowed Babylon until it became the capital of Hammurabi's short-lived empire about a century later. Hammurabi (r. 1792–1750 BC) is famous for codifying the laws of Babylonia into the Code of Hammurabi. He conquered all of the cities and city states of southern Mesopotamia, including Isin, Larsa, Ur, Uruk, Nippur, Lagash, Eridu, Kish, Adab, Eshnunna, Akshak, Shuruppak, Bad-tibira, Sippar, and Girsu, coalescing them into one kingdom, ruled from Babylon. Hammurabi also invaded and conquered Elam to the east, and the kingdoms of Mari and Ebla to the northwest. After a conflict with the Old Assyrian period king Ishme-Dagan, he forced his successor to pay tribute late in his reign.

After the reign of Hammurabi, the whole of southern Mesopotamia came to be known as Babylonia. From this time, Babylon supplanted Nippur and Eridu as the major religious centers of southern Mesopotamia. Hammurabi's empire destabilized after his death. The far south of Mesopotamia broke away, forming the native Sealand Dynasty, and the Elamites appropriated territory in eastern Mesopotamia. The Amorite dynasty remained in power in Babylon, which again became a small city state. After the destruction of the city the Kassites rose to control the region.

Texts from Old Babylon often include references to Shamash, the sun-god of Sippar, treated as a supreme deity, and Marduk, considered as his son. Marduk was later elevated to a higher status and Shamash lowered, perhaps reflecting Babylon's rising political power.[4]

Middle Babylon

In 1595 BC,[a] the city was overthrown by the Hittite Empire from Asia Minor. Thereafter, the Kassites from the Zagros Mountains captured the city of Babylon, renaming it Karduniash, ushering in a dynasty that lasted for 435 years, until 1160 BC.

Babylon was weakened during the Kassite era, and as a result, Kassite Babylon began paying tribute to the Pharaoh of Egypt, Thutmose III, following his eighth campaign against Mitanni.[5][6] Kassite Babylon eventually became subject to the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–1053 BC) to the north, and Elam to the east, with both powers vying for control of the city.

By 1155 BC, after continued attacks and annexing of territory by the Assyrians and Elamites, the Kassites were deposed in Babylon. An Akkadian south Mesopotamian dynasty then ruled for the first time. However, Babylon remained weak and subject to domination by Assyria. Its ineffectual native kings were unable to prevent new waves of foreign West Semitic settlers from the deserts of the Levant, including the Arameans and Suteans in the 11th century BC, and finally the Chaldeans in the 9th century BC, entering and appropriating areas of Babylonia for themselves. The Arameans briefly ruled in Babylon during the late 11th century BC.

Assyrian period  Sennacherib of Assyria during his Babylonian war, relief from his palace in Nineveh

During the rule of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–609 BC), Babylonia was under constant Assyrian domination or direct control. During the reign of Sennacherib of Assyria, Babylonia was in a constant state of revolt, led by a chieftain named Merodach-Baladan, in alliance with the Elamites, and suppressed only by the complete destruction of the city of Babylon. In 689 BC, its walls, temples and palaces were razed, and the rubble was thrown into the Arakhtu, the sea bordering the earlier Babylon on the south. The destruction of the religious center shocked many, and the subsequent murder of Sennacherib by two of his own sons while praying to the god Nisroch was considered an act of atonement. Consequently, his successor, Esarhaddon hastened to rebuild the old city and make it his residence for part of the year. After his death, Babylonia was governed by his elder son, the Assyrian prince Shamash-shum-ukin, who eventually started a civil war in 652 BC against his own brother, Ashurbanipal, who ruled in Nineveh. Shamash-shum-ukin enlisted the help of other peoples against Assyria, including Elam, Persia, the Chaldeans, and Suteans of southern Mesopotamia, and the Canaanites and Arabs dwelling in the deserts south of Mesopotamia.

Once again, Babylon was besieged by the Assyrians, starved into surrender and its allies were defeated. Ashurbanipal celebrated a "service of reconciliation", but did not venture to "take the hands" of Bel. An Assyrian governor named Kandalanu was appointed as ruler of the city. Ashurbanipal did collect texts from Babylon for inclusion in his extensive library at Ninevah.[7]

Neo-Babylonian Empire  Cuneiform cylinder from reign of Nebuchadnezzar II honoring the exorcism and reconstruction of the ziggurat Etemenanki by Nabopolassar[8] Detail of a relief from the reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin A reconstruction of the blue-tiled Ishtar Gate (Pergamon Museum, Berlin), which was the northern entrance to Babylon. It was named for the goddess of love and war. Bulls and dragons, symbols of the god Marduk, decorated the gate.

Under Nabopolassar, Babylon escaped Assyrian rule, and the allied Medo-Babylonian armies finally destroyed the Assyrian Empire between 626 BC and 609 BC. Babylon thus became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian (sometimes called the Chaldean) Empire.[9][10][11]

With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, particularly during the reign of his son Nebuchadnezzar II (604–561 BC).[12] Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including the Etemenanki ziggurat, and the construction of the Ishtar Gate—the most prominent of eight gates around Babylon. A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate is located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, said to have been built for his homesick wife, Amytis. Whether the gardens actually existed is a matter of dispute. German archaeologist Robert Koldewey speculated that he had discovered its foundations, but many historians disagree about the location. Stephanie Dalley has argued that the hanging gardens where actually located near the Assyrian capital, Nineveh.[13]

Nebuchadnezzar is also notoriously associated with the Babylonian exile of the Jews, the result of an imperial technique of pacification, used also by the Assyrians, in which ethnic groups in conquered areas were deported en masse to the capital.[14] According to the Hebrew Bible, he destroyed Solomon's Temple and exiled the Jews to Babylon. The defeat was also recorded in the Babylonian Chronicles.[15][16]

Persian conquest

In 539 BC, the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, with a military engagement known as the Battle of Opis. Babylon's walls were considered impenetrable. The only way into the city was through one of its many gates or through the Euphrates River. Metal grates were installed underwater, allowing the river to flow through the city walls while preventing intrusion. The Persians devised a plan to enter the city via the river. During a Babylonian national feast, Cyrus' troops upstream diverted the Euphrates River, allowing Cyrus' soldiers to enter the city through the lowered water. The Persian army conquered the outlying areas of the city while the majority of Babylonians at the city center were unaware of the breach. The account was elaborated upon by Herodotus[17][18] and is also mentioned in parts of the Hebrew Bible.[19][20] Herodotus also described a moat, an enormously tall and broad wall cemented with bitumen and with buildings on top, and a hundred gates to the city. He also writes that the Babylonians wear turbans and perfume and bury their dead in honey, that they practice ritual prostitution, and that three tribes among them eat nothing but fish. The hundred gates can be considered a reference to Homer, and following the pronouncement of Archibald Henry Sayce in 1883, Herodotus' account of Babylon has largely been considered to represent Greek folklore rather than an authentic voyage to Babylon. However, recently, Dalley and others have suggested taking Herodotus' account seriously.[17][21]

 Babylonian soldier in the Achaemenid army, c. 470 BC, Xerxes I tomb

According to 2 Chronicles 36 of the Hebrew Bible, Cyrus later issued a decree permitting captive people, including the Jews, to return to their own lands. The text found on the Cyrus Cylinder has traditionally been seen by biblical scholars as corroborative evidence of this policy, although the interpretation is disputed[by whom?] because the text identifies only Mesopotamian sanctuaries but makes no mention of Jews, Jerusalem, or Judea.

Under Cyrus and the subsequent Persian king Darius I, Babylon became the capital city of the 9th Satrapy (Babylonia in the south and Athura in the north), as well as a center of learning and scientific advancement. In Achaemenid Persia, the ancient Babylonian arts of astronomy and mathematics were revitalized, and Babylonian scholars completed maps of constellations. The city became the administrative capital of the Persian Empire and remained prominent for over two centuries. Many important archaeological discoveries have been made that can provide a better understanding of that era.[22][23]

The early Persian kings had attempted to maintain the religious ceremonies of Marduk, who was the most important god, but by the reign of Darius III, over-taxation and the strain of numerous wars led to a deterioration of Babylon's main shrines and canals, and the destabilization of the surrounding region. There were numerous attempts at rebellion and in 522 BC (Nebuchadnezzar III), 521 BC (Nebuchadnezzar IV) and 482 BC (Bel-shimani and Shamash-eriba) native Babylonian kings briefly regained independence. However, these revolts were quickly repressed and Babylon remained under Persian rule for two centuries, until Alexander the Great's entry in 331 BC.

Hellenistic period

In October of 331 BC, Darius III, the last Achaemenid king of the Persian Empire, was defeated by the forces of the Ancient Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela.

Under Alexander, Babylon again flourished as a center of learning and commerce. However, following Alexander's death in 323 BC in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, his empire was divided amongst his generals, the Diadochi, and decades of fighting soon began. The constant turmoil virtually emptied the city of Babylon. A tablet dated 275 BC states that the inhabitants of Babylon were transported to Seleucia, where a palace and a temple (Esagila) were built. With this deportation, Babylon became insignificant as a city, although more than a century later, sacrifices were still performed in its old sanctuary.[24]

Renewed Persian rule

Under the Parthian and Sassanid Empires, Babylon (like Assyria) became a province of these Persian Empires for nine centuries, until after AD 650.[citation needed] Although it was captured briefly by Trajan in AD 116 to be part of the newly conquered province of Mesopotamia, his successor Hadrian relinquished his conquests east of the Euphrates river, which became again the Roman Empire's eastern boundary.[25][26]

However, Babylon maintained its own culture and people, who spoke varieties of Aramaic, and who continued to refer to their homeland as Babylon. Examples of their culture are found in the Babylonian Talmud, the Gnostic Mandaean religion, Eastern Rite Christianity and the religion of the philosopher Mani. Christianity was introduced to Mesopotamia in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and Babylon was the seat of a Bishop of the Church of the East until well after the Arab/Islamic conquest. Coins from the Parthian, Sasanian and Arabic periods excavated in Babylon demonstrate the continuity of settlement there.[27]

Muslim conquest

In the mid-7th century, Mesopotamia was conquered and settled by the expanding Muslim Empire, and a period of Islamization followed. Babylon was dissolved as a province and Aramaic and Church of the East Christianity eventually became marginalized. Ibn Hawqal (10th century) and the Arab scholar, al-Qazwini (13th century), describe Babylon (Babil) as a small village.[28] The latter described a well referred to as the 'Dungeon of Daniel' that was visited by Christians and Jews during holidays. The grave-shrine of Amran ibn Ali was visited by Muslims.

According to medieval Arabic writings, Babylon was a popular site to extract bricks,[7] which were used to build cities from Baghdad to Basra.[29]

European travellers, in many cases, could not discover the city's location, or mistook Fallujah for it. Benjamin of Tudela, a 12th-century traveller, mentions Babylon, but it is not clear if he went there. Others referred to Baghdad as Babylon or New Babylon and described various structures encountered in the region as the Tower of Babel.[30] Pietro della Valle travelled to the village of Babil in Babylon in the 17th century and noted the existence of both baked and dried mudbricks cemented with bitumen.[29][31]

Modern era  Plan of ruins in 1905 with locations and names of villages

From the accounts of modern travellers, I had expected to have found on the site of Babylon more, and less, than I actually did. Less, because I could have formed no conception of the prodigious extent of the whole ruins, or of the size, solidity, and perfect state, of some of the parts of them; and more, because I thought that I should have distinguished some traces, however imperfect, of many of the principal structures of Babylon. I imagined, I should have said: "Here were the walls, and such must have been the extent of the area. There stood the palace, and this most assuredly was the tower of Belus." – I was completely deceived: instead of a few insulated mounds, I found the whole face of the country covered with vestiges of building, in some places consisting of brick walls surprisingly fresh, in others merely of a vast succession of mounds of rubbish of such indeterminate figures, variety and extent, as to involve the person who should have formed any theory in inextricable confusion.

Claudius J. Rich, Memoir on the Ruins of Babylon (1815), pp. 1–2.[32]

 Lion of Babylon

The eighteenth century saw an increasing flow of travellers to Babylon, including Carsten Niebuhr and Pierre-Joseph de Beauchamp, as well as measurements of its latitude. Beauchamp's memoir, published in English translation in 1792, provoked the British East India Company to direct its agents in Baghdad and Basra to acquire Mesopotamian relics for shipment to London.[33]

By 1905, there were several villages in Babylon, one of which was Qwaresh with about 200 households located within the boundaries of the ancient inner city walls. The village grew due to the need for laborers during the German Oriental Society excavations (1899-1917).[citation needed]

Excavation and research

Claudius Rich, working for the British East India Company in Baghdad, excavated Babylon in 1811–12 and again in 1817.[34][35] Captain Robert Mignan explored the site briefly in 1827 and in 1829 he completed a map of Babylon which includes the location of several villages.[36][37] William Loftus visited there in 1849.[38] Austen Henry Layard made some soundings during a brief visit in 1850 before abandoning the site.[39][40]

 Location of the Qurnah Disaster where hundreds of cases of antiquities from Fresnel's mission were lost in 1855 "Entry of Alexander into Babylon", a 1665 painting by Charles LeBrun, depicts Alexander the Great's uncontested entry into the city of Babylon, envisioned with pre-existing Hellenistic architecture.

Fulgence Fresnel, Julius Oppert and Felix Thomas heavily excavated Babylon from 1852 to 1854.[41][42] However, much of their work was lost in the Qurnah Disaster when a transport ship and four rafts sank on the Tigris river in May 1855.[43] They had been carrying over 200 crates of artifacts from various excavation missions when they were attacked by Tigris river pirates near Al-Qurnah.[44][45] Recovery efforts, assisted by the Ottoman authorities and British Residence in Baghdad, loaded the equivalent of 80 crates on a ship for Le Havre in May 1856.[46][43] Few antiquities from the Fresnel mission would make it to France.[43][44][41] Subsequent efforts to recover the lost antiquities from the Tigris, including a Japanese expedition in 1971–72, have been largely unsuccessful.[46]

 Original tiles of the processional street. Ancient Babylon, Mesopotamia, Iraq.

Henry Rawlinson and George Smith worked there briefly in 1854. The next excavation was conducted by Hormuzd Rassam on behalf of the British Museum. Work began in 1879, continuing until 1882, and was prompted by widespread looting of the site. Using industrial scale digging in search of artifacts, Rassam recovered a large quantity of cuneiform tablets and other finds. The zealous excavation methods, common at the time, caused significant damage to the archaeological context.[47][48] Many tablets had appeared on the market in 1876 before Rassam's excavation began.[7]

 Mušḫuššu (sirrush) and aurochs on either side of the processional street. Ancient Babylon, Mesopotamia, Iraq.

A team from the German Oriental Society led by Robert Koldewey conducted the first scientific archaeological excavations at Babylon. The work was conducted daily from 1899 until 1917. A major problem for Koldewey was the large scale mining of baked bricks which had begun in the 19th century and which were mainly sourced from the time of Nebuchadnezzar II. At the time excavations began brick mining for various building efforts including the Hindiya dam were under way.[49] The primary efforts of the dig involved the temple of Marduk and the processional way leading up to it, as well as the city wall.[50][51][52][53][54][55] Artifacts, including pieces of the Ishtar Gate and hundreds of recovered tablets, were sent back to Germany, where Koldewey's colleague Walter Andrae reconstructed them into displays at the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin.[56] The German archaeologists fled before oncoming British troops in 1917, and again, many objects went missing in the following years.[7]

Further work by the German Archaeological Institute was conducted by Heinrich J. Lenzen in 1956 and Hansjörg Schmid in 1962. Lenzen's work dealt primarily with the Hellenistic theatre, and Schmid focused on the temple ziggurat Etemenanki.[57]

A topographical survey at the site was conducted in 1974, followed in 1977 by a review of the stratigraphical position of the main monuments and reconsideration of ancient water levels, by the Turin Centre for Archaeological Research and Excavations in the Middle East and Asia and the Iraqi-Italian Institute of Archaeological Sciences.[58][59] The focus was on clearing up issues raised by re-examination of the old German data. Additional work in 1987–1989 concentrated on the area surrounding the Ishara and Ninurta temples in the Shu-Anna city-quarter of Babylon.[60][61][62]

During the restoration efforts in Babylon, the Iraqi State Organization for Antiquities and Heritage conducted extensive research, excavation and clearing, but wider publication of these archaeological activities has been limited.[63][64] Indeed, most of the known tablets from all modern excavations remain unpublished.[7]

Iraqi government

The site of Babylon has been a cultural asset to Iraq since the creation of the modern Iraqi state in 1921. The site was officially protected and excavated by the Kingdom of Iraq under British Administration, which later became the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq, and its successors: the Arab Federation, the Iraqi Republic, Ba'athist Iraq (also officially called the Iraqi Republic), and the Republic of Iraq. Babylonian images periodically appear on Iraqi postcards and stamps. In the 1960s, a replica of the Ishtar Gate and a reconstruction of Ninmakh Temple were built on site.[65]

On 14 February 1978, the Ba'athist government of Iraq under Saddam Hussein began the "Archaeological Restoration of Babylon Project": reconstructing features of the ancient city atop its ruins. These features included the Southern Palace of Nebuchadnezzar, with 250 rooms, five courtyards, and a 30-meter entrance arch. The project also reinforced the Processional Way, the Lion of Babylon, and an amphitheater constructed in the city's Hellenistic era. In 1982, the government minted a set of seven coins displaying iconic features of Babylon. A Babylon International Festival was held in September 1987, and annually thereafter until 2002 (excepting 1990 and 1991), to showcase this work. The proposed reconstruction of the Hanging Gardens and the great ziggurat never took place.[66][65][67]

Hussein installed a portrait of himself and Nebuchadnezzar at the entrance to the ruins and inscribed his name on many of the bricks, in imitation of Nebuchadnezzar. One frequent inscription reads: "This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq". These bricks became sought after as collectors' items after Hussein's downfall.[68] Similar projects were conducted at Nineveh, Nimrud, Assur and Hatra, to demonstrate the magnificence of Arab achievement.[69]

In the 1980s, Saddam Hussein completely removed the village of Qwaresh, displacing its residents.[70][71] He later constructed a modern palace in that area called Saddam Hill over some of the old ruins, in the pyramidal style of a ziggurat. In 2003, he intended to have a cable car line constructed over Babylon, but plans were halted by the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Under US and Polish occupation World Monuments Fund video on conservation of Babylon

Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the area around Babylon came under the control of US troops, before being handed over to Polish forces in September 2003.[72] US forces under the command of General James T. Conway of the I Marine Expeditionary Force were criticized for building the military base "Camp Alpha", with a helipad and other facilities on ancient Babylonian ruins during the Iraq War. US forces have occupied the site for some time and have caused irreparable damage to the archaeological record. In a report of the British Museum's Near East department, John Curtis described how parts of the archaeological site were levelled to create a landing area for helicopters, and parking lots for heavy vehicles. Curtis wrote of the occupation forces:

They caused substantial damage to the Ishtar Gate, one of the most famous monuments from antiquity [...] US military vehicles crushed 2,600-year-old brick pavements, archaeological fragments were scattered across the site, more than 12 trenches were driven into ancient deposits and military earth-moving projects contaminated the site for future generations of scientists.[73]

A US military spokesman claimed that engineering operations were discussed with the "head of the Babylon museum".[74] The head of the Iraqi State Board for Heritage and Antiquities, Donny George, said that the "mess will take decades to sort out" and criticised Polish troops for causing "terrible damage" to the site.[75][76] Poland resolved in 2004 to place the city under Iraq control, and commissioned a report titled Report Concerning the Condition of the Preservation of the Babylon Archaeological Site, which it presented at a meeting on 11–13 December 2004.[66] In 2005, the site was handed over to the Iraqi Ministry of Culture.[72]

In April 2006, Colonel John Coleman, former Chief of Staff for the I Marine Expeditionary Force, offered to issue an apology for the damage done by military personnel under his command. However, he also claimed that the US presence had deterred far greater damage by other looters.[77] An article published in April 2006 stated that UN officials and Iraqi leaders have plans to restore Babylon, making it into a cultural center.[78][79]

Two museums and a library, containing replicas of artifacts and local maps and reports, were raided and destroyed.[80]

Panoramic view of ruins in Babylon photographed in 2005 
Panoramic view of ruins in Babylon photographed in 2005

In May 2009, the provincial government of Babil reopened the site to tourists and over 35,000 people visited in 2017.[81] An oil pipeline runs through an outer wall of the city.[82][83] On 5 July 2019, the site of Babylon was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[84]

Thousands of people reside in Babylon within the perimeter of the ancient outer city walls, and communities in and around them are "rapidly developing from compact, dense settlements to sprawling suburbia despite laws restricting constructions".[37][71] Modern villages include Zwair West, Sinjar Village, Qwaresh, and Al-Jimjmah among which the first two are better off economically.[85] Most residents primarily depend on daily wage earning or have government jobs in Al-Hillah, while few cultivate dates, citrus fruits, figs, fodder for livestock and limited cash crops, although income from the land alone is not enough to sustain a family.[71] Both Shi'a and Sunni Muslims live in Sinjar village with mosques for both groups.[71]

The State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) is the main authority responsible for the conservation of the archeological site. They are assisted by Antiquity and Heritage Police and maintain a permanent presence there. The World Monuments Fund is also involved in research and conservation. The SBAH Provincial Inspectorate Headquarters is located within the boundaries of the ancient inner city walls on the east side and several staff members and their families reside in subsidized housing in this area.

^ Rients de Boer. "Beginnings of Old Babylonian Babylon: Sumu-Abum and Sumu-La-El." Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 70, The American Schools of Oriental Research, 2018, pp. 53–86 ^ Al-Gailani Werr, L., 1988. Studies in the chronology and regional style of Old Babylonian Cylinder Seals. Bibliotheca Mesopotamica, Volume 23. ^ Vedeler (2006), pp. 8–15. "However, this later tradition is almost certainly a simplification or even a reworking of the actual events surrounding Sumu-abum, who was never regarded as an actual ancestor to the other kings of the Babylon I dynasty (Edzard 1957:122); in reality the relationship of Sumu-abum to Babylon was much more complex. It was long been noted that many of Sumu-abum's year names are identical or virtually identical to the year names of Sumu-la-el, whom we know for certain was king of Babylon. Goddeeris (2002:319–320) sums these parallels up as follows: Sa 1 and 2 / Sl 5 and 6: building the wall of Babylon. Sa 9 / Sl 'b': building the wall of Dilbat. Sa 13/14 / Sl 20/21: the destruction and seizure of Kazallu." ^ Cite error: The named reference Lambert2011 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Durant, Will (21 January 2014). The Complete Story of Civilization. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781476779713. Archived from the original on 16 March 2023. Retrieved 1 June 2022. ^ Aldred, Cyril (1970). "The Foreign Gifts Offered to Pharaoh". The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. 56: 105–116. doi:10.2307/3856046. ISSN 0307-5133. JSTOR 3856046. Archived from the original on 2021-11-16. Retrieved 2021-11-16. ^ a b c d e Olof Pedersén, "Excavated and Unexcavated Libraries in Babylon Archived 2018-11-20 at the Wayback Machine", in Cancik-Kirschbaum et al. (2011), pp. 47–67. ^ Spar, Ira; Jursa, Michael (2014). The Ebabbar Temple Archive and Other Texts from the Fourth to the First Millennium B.C. Cuneiform Texts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. IV. Metropolitan Museum of Art. pp. 288–290. ISBN 978-1-57506-327-0. Archived from the original on 2020-05-18. Retrieved 2019-08-18. ^ Bradford, Alfred S. (2001). With Arrow, Sword, and Spear: A History of Warfare in the Ancient World. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 47–48. ISBN 978-0-275-95259-4. Archived from the original on 2020-05-19. Retrieved 2019-08-18. ^ Curtis, Adrian (2007). Oxford Bible Atlas. OUP Oxford. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-19-100158-1. Archived from the original on 2020-05-19. Retrieved 2015-06-20. ^ von Soden, Wolfram (1994). The Ancient Orient. Wm. B. Eerdmans. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-8028-0142-5. ^ Saggs, H.W.F. (2000). Babylonians, p. 165. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20222-8. ^ Stephanie Dalley, (2013) The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: an elusive World Wonder traced, OUP ISBN 978-0-19-966226-5 ^ Seymour 2006, pp. 88–89: "Preventing uprisings on the fringes of the empire was a major concern for Assyrian kings, and a number of policies developed to meet this need, among them mass deportations. When new territory was conquered or a rebellious vassal crushed, an increased imperial presence in the trouble spot was often complemented by the removal of large numbers of the indigenous population to the imperial core, effectively breaking up the rebellious population and reducing the potential for future resistance. This practice was effective, and continued throughout the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires until 539 BC and Cyrus's conquest of Babylon. The majority of the immigrant population were not slaves (Yamauchi 2002: 365), and some did rise to high status positions at the core of the empire (a possibility reflected in the career of the biblical Daniel, who rises to the status of trusted royal confidant)." ^ "British Museum – Cuneiform tablet with part of the Babylonian Chronicle (605–594 BC)". Archived from the original on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014. ^ "ABC 5 (Jerusalem Chronicle) – Livius". www.livius.org. Archived from the original on 2019-05-05. Retrieved 2020-03-26. ^ a b Godley, Alfred Denis (1920). "Ch. 178-200". Herodotus, The Histories. Vol. Book 1. Harvard University Press. OCLC 4559420. Archived from the original on 2023-03-16. Retrieved 2019-08-19.; or see "Herodotus' Description of Babylon and the Babylonians". shsu.edu. 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-05-05. ^ Cite error: The named reference MacGinnis was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Isaiah 44:27 ^ Jeremiah 50–51 ^ Seymour 2006, pp. 107–115. ^ Cyrus Cylinder Archived 2011-12-01 at the Wayback Machine The British Museum. Retrieved July 23, 2011. ^ "Mesopotamia: The Persians". Wsu.edu:8080. 1999-06-06. Archived from the original on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-09. ^ Sayce 1911, p. 98 ^ Bennett 1997, pp. 206–207. ^ Mommsen, Dickson & Haverfield 2004, p. 72. ^ Radner, Karen (2020). A Short History of Babylon. Great Britain: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-8386-0169-0. ^ Seymour 2006, p. 148. ^ a b Julian E. Reade, "Disappearance and rediscovery"; in Finkel & Seymour, eds., Babylon (2009); pp. 13–30. ^ Seymour 2006, pp. 148–151. ^ Radner, Karen (2020). A Short History of Babylon. Great Britain: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. Ch. 2, p. 21. ISBN 978-1-8386-0169-0. ^ Seymour 2006, p. 175. ^ Seymour 2006, pp. 169–173. ^ Claudius J. Rich, Memoirs on the Ruins of Babylon, 1815 ^ Claudius J. Rich, Second memoir on Babylon; containing an inquiry into the correspondence between the ancient descriptions of Babylon, and the remains still visible on the site, 1818 ^ Mignan, Robert (1829). Travels in Chaldaea: Including a Journey from Bussorah to Bagdad, Hillah and Babylon, Performed on Foot in 1827. Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley. OCLC 1003963534. ^ a b World Monuments Fund (2015). Babylon Site Management Plan. ^ [Loftus, William Kennett (1857). Travels and researches in Chaldaea and Susiana: with an account of excavations at Warka, the "Erech" of Nimrod, and Shush, "Shushan the Palace" of Esther, in 1849-52. Robert Carter & Brothers. ^ A. H. Layard, Discoveries among the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon; New York: Harper & Brothers, 1853. ^ H V. Hilprecht, Exploration in the Bible Lands During the 19th Century; Philadelphia: A. J. Holman and Company, 1903. ^ a b Pillet, Maurice (1922). L'expédition scientifique et artistique de Mésopotamie et de Médie, 1851-1855 / Maurice Pillet,... (in French). Bibliothèque nationale de France: É. Champion (Paris). Archived from the original on 2021-04-11. Retrieved 2021-04-13. ^ J. Oppert, Expédition scientifique en Mésopotamie exécutée par ordre du gouvernement de 1851 à 1854. Tome I: Rélation du voyage et résultat de l'expédition, 1863 Tome II: Déchiffrement des inscriptions cuneiforms Archived 2018-07-18 at the Wayback Machine, 1859 (also as ISBN 0-543-74939-8) (in French) ^ a b c Larsen, M.T. (1996). The Conquest of Assyria: Excavations in an Antique Land (1st ed.). Routledge. pp. 344–9, 350–3. doi:10.4324/9781315862859. ISBN 9781317949954. ^ a b Potts, D. T. "Potts 2020. 'Un coup terrible de la fortune:' A. Clément and the Qurna disaster of 1855. in Finkel, I.L. and Simpson, St J., eds. In Context: The Reade Festschrift. Oxford: Archaeopress". Archaeopress Archaeology: 235–244. Archived from the original on 2022-10-04. Retrieved 2021-04-13 – via Academia.edu. ^ Samuel D. Pfister (20 January 2021). "The Qurnah Disaster: Archaeology & Piracy in Mesopotamia". Bible History Daily. Archived from the original on 2 March 2021. Retrieved 13 April 2021. ^ a b Namio Egami. "The Report of The Japan Mission For The Survey of Under-Water Antiquities At Qurnah: The First Season (1971-72)". pp. 1–45. Archived from the original on 2018-10-31. Retrieved 2021-04-13. ^ Hormuzd Rassam, Asshur and the Land of Nimrod: Being an Account of the Discoveries Made in the Ancient Ruins of Nineveh, Asshur, Sepharvaim, Calah, [...], Curts & Jennings, 1897. ^ Julian Reade, Hormuzd Rassam and his discoveries, Iraq, vol. 55, pp. 39–62, 1993 ^ [1] Archived 2023-01-28 at the Wayback Machine Pedersén, O., "Work on a Digital Model of Babylon Using Archaeological and Textual Evidence", Mesopotamia 46, pp. 9–22, 2011 ^ Robert Koldewey, Das wieder erstehende Babylon, die bisherigen Ergebnisse der deutschen Ausgrabungen, J.C. Hinrichs, 1913; Agnes Sophia Griffith Johns (translator), The Excavations at Babylon, Macmillan and Co., 1914. "Up to the present time only about half the work has been accomplished, although since it began we have worked daily, both summer and winter, with from 200 to 250 workmen" (p. v). ^ R. Koldewey, Die Tempel von Babylon und Borsippa, WVDOG, vol. 15, pp. 37–49, 1911 (in German) ^ R. Koldewey, Das Ischtar-Tor in Babylon, WVDOG, vol. 32, 1918 ^ F. Wetzel, Die Stadtmauren von Babylon, WVDOG, vol. 48, pp. 1–83, 1930 ^ F. Wetzel and F.H. Weisbach, Das Hauptheiligtum des Marduk in Babylon: Esagila und Etemenanki, WVDOG, vol. 59, pp. 1–36, 1938 ^ F. Wetzel et al., Das Babylon der Spätzeit, WVDOG, vol. 62, Gebr. Mann, 1957 (1998 reprint ISBN 3-7861-2001-3) ^ Bilsel, Can (2012). Antiquity on Display: Regimes of the Authentic in Berlin's Pergamon Museum. OUP Oxford. pp. 163–183. ISBN 978-0-19-957055-3. Archived from the original on 2020-05-18. Retrieved 2019-08-18. ^ Hansjörg Schmid, Der Tempelturm Etemenanki in Babylon, Zabern, 1995, ISBN 3-8053-1610-0 ^ Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino per il Medio Oriente e l'Asia. Projects: IRAQ: Babylon Archived 2017-05-09 at the Wayback Machine and The Iraqi-Italian Institute of Archaeological Sciences and the Iraqi-Italian Centre for the Restoration of Monuments in Baghdad Archived 2017-06-28 at the Wayback Machine. ^ G. Bergamini, "Levels of Babylon Reconsidered", Mesopotamia, vol. 12, pp. 111–152, 1977 ^ [2]G. Bergamini, "Preliminary Report on the 1987 Season of Excavations at Babylon, Iraq", Sumer 47, pp. 30-34, 1995 ^ G. Bergamini, "Excavations in Shu-anna Babylon 1987", Mesopotamia, vol. 23, pp. 5–17, 1988 ^ G. Bergamini, "Preliminary report on the 1988–1989 operations at Babylon Shu-Anna", Mesopotamia, vol. 25, pp. 5–12, 1990 ^ "Excavations in Iraq 1981–1982 Archived 2018-06-16 at the Wayback Machine", Iraq, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 199–224, 1983 ^ Farouk N. H. Al-Rawi, Nabopolassar's Restoration Work on the Wall "Imgur-Enlil at Babylon, Iraq, vol. 47, pp. 1–13, 1985 ^ a b John Curtis, "The Present Condition of Babylon"; in Cancik-Kirschbaum et al. (2011). ^ a b John Curtis, "The Site of Babylon Today"; in Finkel & Seymour, eds., Babylon (2009); pp. 213–220. ^ Paul Lewis, "Babylon Journal; Ancient King's Instructions to Iraq: Fix My Palace" (archive), New York Times, 19 April 1989. ^ "Saddam removed from ancient Babylon 'brick by brick' Archived 2017-10-18 at the Wayback Machine", ABC News 20 April 2003. ^ Lawrence Rothfield (1 Aug 2009). The Rape of Mesopotamia: Behind the Looting of the Iraq Museum. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226729435. ^ "Iraq's ancient city of Babylon gets long-overdue international recognition". Middle East Institute. Archived from the original on 2021-10-21. Retrieved 2021-10-01. ^ a b c d "Management Plan of Babylon". unesco.org. Archived from the original on 2020-06-22. Retrieved 29 July 2021. ^ a b McCarthy, Rory; Kennedy, Maev (2005-01-15). "Babylon wrecked by war". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2016-09-20. Retrieved 2016-08-20. ^ Bajjaly, Joanne Farchakh (2005-04-25). "History lost in dust of war-torn Iraq". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2018-07-08. Retrieved 2013-06-07. ^ Leeman, Sue (January 16, 2005). "Damage seen to ancient Babylon". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2020. ^ Marozzi, Justin (2016-08-08). "Lost cities #1: Babylon – how war almost erased 'mankind's greatest heritage site'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2020-04-13. Retrieved 2016-08-20. ^ Heritage News from around the world Archived 2016-02-02 at the Wayback Machine, World Heritage Alert!. Retrieved April 19, 2008. ^ Cornwell, Rupert. US colonel offers Iraq an apology of sorts for devastation of Babylon Archived 2011-09-19 at the Wayback Machine, The Independent, April 15, 2006. Retrieved April 19, 2008. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey. Unesco intends to put the magic back in Babylon, International Herald Tribune, April 21, 2006. Retrieved April 19, 2008. Archived June 12, 2006, at the Wayback Machine ^ McBride, Edward. Monuments to Self: Baghdad's grands projects in the age of Saddam Hussein, MetropolisMag. Retrieved April 19, 2008. Archived December 10, 2005, at the Wayback Machine ^ Maryam U. Musa, "The Situation of the Babylon Archaeological Site until 2006", in Cancik-Kirschbaum et al. (2011). ^ Fordham, Alice (23 February 2021). "'It Was Like Magic': Iraqis Visit Babylon And Other Heritage Sites For 1st Time". NPR.org. Archived from the original on 2021-02-23. Retrieved 29 July 2021. ^ Damon, Arawa (4 April 2013). "Bringing Babylon back from the dead". CNN. Archived from the original on 2017-06-06. ^ Myers, Steven Lee (2 May 2009). "Babylon Ruins Reopen in Iraq, to Controversy". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2017-08-06. ^ "Ancient city of Babylon heads list of new Unesco world heritage sites". The Guardian. 5 July 2019. Archived from the original on 29 November 2019. 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