Babylonian civilization and their characteristics

Babylonian civilization

The Babylonians, a Semitic community, were founded by the Amurrus. The founder of the state is Sumu-Abum. Especially with the 6th King Hammurabi, who became the head of the state, the Babylonians dominated other tribes. After the withdrawal of the Hittites, the land of Babylon came under the rule of the Assyrians. The Babylonians, mixed with Medes civilization, defeated the Assyrian state in 626 BC, became independent again and established the II Babylonian Kingdom. The Persians put an ended to the Babylonian II state. The Babylonians, who were also under the influence of the Sumerians, built multi-storey temples called ziggurats. The upper floor of these structures is the observatory, and the lower floor is the cellar where the products are stored. Architecturally, the Babylonians can be considered the most advanced civilization of Mesopotamia.

It is not known exactly where the hanging gardens of Babylon, one of the ancient seven wonders of the world. In fact, there is no definitive archaeological find of this structure. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is the only place of the seven wonders of the world whose geographical location is not known with certainty. However, it’s known that the city of Hillah, located within the borders of Iraq today, was called Babylon in ancient times. Between 1899 and 1917, obtained important findings during the excavations led by the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey. According to the findings, the gardens were arranged in layers and there were sloping water channels that drew water from the river to irrigate these gardens. The gardens resembled a green hill from afar.

According to the belief, in the 7th century BC, Semiramis, the wife of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, was homesick, and Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had hanging gardens full of gardens, ponds and greenery built in the middle of the arid lands of Mesopotamia to cheer up his wife.

According to the definition of the geographer Strabo in the 1st century: “Gardens consisted of large pillars rising one above the other. They were hollow inside. It was filled with soil so that large plants and trees could grow. Domes and columns were made of baked brick and asphalt. In order to irrigate the high gardens, water was brought up from the Euphrates with chain pumps. The water carried to the upper level in this way helped water the gardens.”

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Photo: History

The Sumerians worshiped the heights and believed in the existence of a sacred tree that connected the earth and the sky. They built this tower, which they called God Mountain, inside the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the world. They built this tower in the god Marduk.

The tower was built as a 7-storey building with a width of 90 meters and a height of 90 meters. 1 Floor, stone (33 m.), 2 Floor, fire (18 m.), 3 Floor, plants (6 m.), 4 Floor, animals (6 m.), 5 Floor, people (6 m.), 6 Floor, sky (6 m.) and 7. Floor symbolized the angels (15 m.).

It was thought that a person could reach the Babylonian God Marduk after sequentially ascending the seven steps. According to their belief, Marduk would appear to humans only there, but ordinary mortals could not bear his appearance. Therefore, commoners could go up to the first floor, only priests could go up to the next upper floors.

However, after the Persian king Xerkes, who conquered Babylon in 479 BC, destroyed the tower, unfortunately the tower could not be repaired again. Later, when Alexander the Great came to Babylon, he was even amazed by the dilapidated state of the tower and decided to restore the tower. Alexander the Great activate 10,000 people for two months to clear the rubble, and its repair lasted until Alexander the Great’s death.

Detail from the stele inscribed with the Code of Hammurabi. Photo: Britannica

The Babylonian region was first identified in the 1800s within the territory of present day Iraq. Subsequent excavations were carried out by the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and found that many areas of the city were very richly built by King Nebuchadnezzar II (especially between 605 and 561 BC). During Koldewey’s excavations, one of the most magnificent structures built by Nebuchadnezzar II was found. The wonderful blue Ishtar Gate, now on display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

Hammurabi, who has a unique place in history, is the sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty. He is known as the most impressive ruler of the ancient Middle East. He enacted the world’s first systematic laws, known as the “Code of Hammurabi”, which gave some rights to the people for the first time. This law is also one of the oldest deciphered writings of considerable length. He proclaimed himself not only ruler of Babylon but also king of the lands surrounding Babylon. Hammurabi skillfully used the possibilities of coalition and achieved greater power than any previous king. After 30 years of rule, he ruled over all of southern Mesopotamia. The military force under Hammurabi’s control was quite well organized.

Notable characteristics about Babylon:

  • Babylonians divided the week into 7 days.
  • Babylonians invented the abacus, the first computer.
  • Astrology was first used by the Babylonians 3000 years ago. The zodiac was divided into 12 divisions by the Babylonians.
  • It turned out that the Babylonians used the number 3.125 as a coefficient instead of using the number 3.14 as the number of pi.
  • In Babylon, there were officials who worked as field surveyors to mark city boundaries, measure lands, and record changes in ownership.
  • Babylonians were the first to discover that lunar and solar eclipses are cyclical.
  • They invented the sundial.
  • The Babylonians used a base 60 number system. Therefore, there are 60 minutes in an hour and 60 seconds in a minute.
  • In some sources, the Babylonians are mentioned as the most barbaric people in history. Because of the code of Hammurabi were created by tit-for-tat and contain very cruel clause.