Babylonian Empire

Kassite Babylonia

The Babylonian Empire, which existed from the 18th to the 6th century BC, was a powerful civilization in ancient Mesopotamia. It was known for its advanced infrastructure, including the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and its contributions to mathematics, astronomy, and law. The empire’s downfall came with the invasion of the Persian Empire in 539 BC.

Babylonian Empire Facts for Kids

  • Founded circa 1894 BC.
  • The capital was Babylon.
  • Famous for Hanging Gardens.
  • Hammurabi was a notable king.
  • Created Hammurabi’s Code.
  • Conquered by Persians in 539 BC.
  • Located in modern-day Iraq.
  • Excelled in astronomy.
  • Built the Ishtar Gate.
  • Fell to Alexander the Great.
Old Babylonian Cylinder Seal, hematite

Accomplishments of the Babylonians

The Hammurabi Code

Hammurabi (the sixth Babylonian king) established a legal code with 282 laws that governed Babylonian society. It covered criminal justice, property rights, commercial transactions, family law, and labor regulations. The code aimed for fairness and social order, influencing later legal systems and shaping principles of justice and punishment.

An advanced mathematical system

The Babylonians created a complex mathematical system using base-60 numerals. This system, with positional notation, enabled them to do advanced calculations. They excelled in arithmetic, geometry, and algebra, using tables and algorithms to solve equations, find areas, and work with fractions. Their mathematical knowledge influenced later civilizations, including the Greeks, who built upon and expanded these concepts.

Insights into astronomy

Babylonians observed and recorded celestial bodies, predicting astronomical events accurately. They maintained detailed records, such as the “Enuma Anu Enlil,” which influenced ancient Greek astronomy.

Science of astrology

The Babylonians pioneered astrology, using celestial events to predict the future and guide decision-making. They associated planetary positions and eclipses with significant events on Earth and believed that a person’s birth could influence their personality and destiny. Babylonian astrology influenced later astrological practices.

The calendar system

The Babylonians created a lunar-based calendar with 12 months, starting at the first sighting of the new moon. They added extra months to align with the solar year and to match agricultural and religious events. This calendar influenced the Hebrew calendar and others in the region.

The construction of ziggurats

The Babylonians built impressive ziggurats, massive stepped towers used for religious worship. These structures, made of baked bricks, had multiple tiers that decreased in size as they went up. At the top, there was a central sanctuary where religious rituals took place.

The most famous example is the Temple of Marduk in Babylon, known as the Etemenanki, which symbolized the city’s power and devotion. The Babylonians’ engineering and architectural skills allowed them to create enduring structures that still inspire awe today.

Irrigation and Agriculture

The Babylonians improved irrigation and agriculture. They built canals and levees to control water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, increasing fertility in Mesopotamia. This infrastructure boosted agricultural productivity and allowed for diverse crops. Their expertise sustained a strong economy, supported cities, and influenced future civilizations.

Creation of the Epic of Gilgamesh

The Babylonians created the Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient work of literature. This poem tells the story of Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, and his search for eternal life. It explores important themes like friendship, mortality, humanity, and the gods. The Epic of Gilgamesh offers valuable insights into Babylonian culture and influenced later epics and biblical stories.

The use of cuneiform writing

The Babylonians used cuneiform writing, one of the earliest writing systems. They wrote on clay tablets using a stylus, creating wedge-shaped marks. Skilled scribes documented historical events, preserved culture, and shared knowledge. Deciphering cuneiform texts has revealed insights into Babylonian civilization and its contributions.

Achievements in engineering and architecture

The Babylonians were skilled engineers and architects. They built grand cities with impressive structures like palaces, temples, walls, and gates. The Ishtar Gate of Babylon, for instance, was a monumental entrance adorned with ornate glazed brick reliefs, showcasing their craftsmanship.

They also excelled in city planning and constructed infrastructure such as roads and bridges to facilitate trade and communication. Their architectural achievements demonstrated their ingenuity, aesthetic sense, and organizational abilities, influencing later civilizations in the region.

Babylonian soldier of the Achaemenid army

What was the Babylonian Empire?

The Babylonian Empire emerged in Mesopotamia after the decline of the Akkadian Empire. It was the first empire to govern the entire region, with the Assyrians ruling the north and the Babylonians ruling the south.

What years did the Babylonian Empire reign for?

The Babylonian Empire controlled Mesopotamia briefly, but Babylonia endured for over 1500 years, from 1895-539 BC.

What did the Babylonian Empire accomplish?

The Babylonian Empire achieved several notable feats, including the establishment of the world’s first written code of law, known as the Code of Hammurabi. This code, consisting of 282 laws, provided valuable insights into Babylonian life.

Additionally, the empire constructed the impressive Ziggurat of Babylon, a monumental place of worship standing at 300 feet tall. The city itself boasted wide streets, high buildings, and captivating artwork, making it a visually stunning place to reside.

However, the most remarkable accomplishment of the Babylonian Empire was the creation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, considered one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. While historians debate their existence, these gardens, if real, would have been a breathtaking architectural marvel.

What was life in the Babylonian Empire like?

Babylonian architecture used rooftops as living spaces due to the hot weather, with three floors and a garden or animal home on the first floor. Religion played a significant role, with daily prayers to the god Marduk at the city’s ziggurat.

The Babylonian Empire had a social hierarchy based on birth, with a growing middle class and common slavery. As Babylon became wealthier, entertainment options expanded for the regular class, including music festivals, boxing matches, and races.

Why did the Babylonian Empire fall?

The Babylonian Empire fell in 539 BC when the Persian army invaded and conquered the state, led by Cyrus the Great. This event marked the end of the Babylonian era and the rise of the Achaemenid Empire, the first of the Great Persian Empires.


Where was the Babylonian Empire?

Mesopotamia, in West Asia.

How long did the state of Babylonia last?

1500 years, approximately.

Name one major achievement of the Babylonian Empire.

The establishment of the Code of Hammurabi/construction of the Ziggurat of Babylon/construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

How tall was the Ziggurat of Babylon?

300 feet.

Who was the patron god of Babylon?


What year did the Babylonian Empire fall?

539 BC.

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