The Babylonian Empire was one of the first empires in the world. It was located in West Asia, in a country called Mesopotamia. After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, Mesopotamia’s first empire, two new empires came to power.
In the north, the Assyrians ruled, while the Babylonians ruled the south. The Babylonian Empire would go on to be the first empire to control all of Mesopotamia at once.
While the Babylonian Empire remained in control of Mesopotamia for a short period, the state of Babylonia lasted over 1500 years, from 1895-539 BC.
One of the major achievements of the Babylonian Empire was the establishment of the world’s first written code of law. While law had always existed, the Babylonian Empire was the first in the world to write these laws down, and set them in concrete.
The Babylonian code of law was established by King Hammurabi, and was called the Code of Hammurabi as a result. Much of what we know about Babylonian life comes from information obtained from this code. There were 282 laws in Hammurabi’s code.
One major achievement of the Babylonian Empire was the construction of the Ziggurat of Babylon, found in the city Babylon’s center. In Mesopotamia, a ziggurat was a place of worship for the public – it was sort of like a step pyramid, but without the pointy top! The Ziggurat of Babylon was the biggest ziggurat of all, at 300 feet tall.
The design of the city was a major achievement, too. It had wide streets and high buildings, and art from the period shows that it would have been a very beautiful place to live.
However, the biggest accomplishment of the Babylonian Empire was undoubtedly the design and creation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Though historians are unsure whether or not the gardens ever existed, they are still one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. By all accounts, these gardens were breath-taking, and one of the finest architectural achievements ever seen if real.
Unusually, Babylonian architecture relied a lot on using the roof of a person’s house as another living space. Many Babylonians cooked, slept and lived on their roof instead of indoors because it would allow them to catch a breeze – the weather in Babylon was very hot, and would have been quite uncomfortable most of the time.
Babylonian houses typically had three floors in addition to the roof, with the first floor being dedicated to a garden and/or a home for animals like chickens, cows, goats, etc.
Religion was important to daily life in the Babylonian Empire. The patron god of Babylon was named Marduk, and Babylonians would pray to him daily for good weather/a good harvest. Peasants would visit the city’s ziggurat to make their prayers.
The Babylonian Empire, like most Mesopotamian Empires, operated on a social hierarchy, where a person’s “station” or place in society was decided by their birth. The largest class was the middle class, who mostly worked as farmers and laborers. Slavery was common in Babylon.
As Babylon grew richer, however, things improved for the middle class. Entertainment became available to the regular class over time. Music festivals, boxing matches, exhibition fights, and races are some examples of the entertainment that was staged for the people of Babylon.
The Babylonian Empire fell in 539 BC when the Persian army invaded and conquered the state, led by Cyrus the Great. His empire, the Achaemenid Empire, was the first of the Great Persian Empires.
– Mesopotamia, in West Asia.
– 1500 years, approximately.
– The establishment of the Code of Hammurabi/construction of the Ziggurat of Babylon/construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
– 300 feet.
– 539 BC.