A history of ancient Babylon (Babylonia) including its cities, laws, kings and legacy to civilization

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five


Code Of Hammurabi

A Brief Overview of Babylonia

The Last Kings of Babylonia

Care to express an opinion on a current or past historical event?

Need to ask a question from our many visitors?

Just visit our Forum and leave your message.


Weekly Poll

Please Help Keep Us On the Web.

We are a Non-Profit Organization and the cost of continuing is becoming more than we can handle.  Therefore, we are asking you to please donate anything you can to help keep us on the web.

Please Help Click Here


Babyloniamap.jpg (83915 bytes)


Stele of Hammurabi    

babylonia1.jpg (23563 bytes)

babylonia2.jpg (35680 bytes)




























Babylonia, A history of ancient Babylon (Babylonia) including its cities,  laws, kings and legacy to civilization.

The International History Project 2004


The Babylonian civilization, which endured from the 18th until the 6th century BC, was, like the Sumerian that preceded it, urban in character, although based on agriculture rather than industry. The country consisted of a dozen or so cities, surrounded by villages and hamlets. At the head of the political structure was the king, a more or less absolute monarch who exercised legislative and judicial as well as executive powers. Under him was a group of appointed governors and administrators. Mayors and councils of city elders were in charge of local administration.

Babylonia (Babylonian Bābili,"gate of God"; Old Persian Babirush),Was the ancient country of Mesopotamia, known originally as Sumer and later as Sumer and Akkad, lying between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, south of modern Baghdād, Iraq.

History of the Babylonians and the region of Babylonia (Babylon)

Chronology And History


An essential condition for adequate knowledge of an ancient people

is the possession of a continuous historical tradition in the form of oral

or written records.  This, however, in spite of the mass of contemporaneous

documents of almost every sort, which the spade of the excavator has

unearthed and the skill of the scholar deciphered, is not available for

scientific study of Babylonian or Assyrian antiquity.  From the far-off

morning of the beginnings of the two peoples to their fall, no historians

appeared to gather up the memorials of their past, to narrate and preserve

the annals of these empires, to hand down their achievements to later days.

Consequently, where contemporaneous records fail, huge gaps occur in the

course of historical development, to be bridged over only partially by the

combination of a few facts with more or less ingenious inferences or

conjectures.  Sometimes what has been preserved from a particular age

reveals clearly enough the artistic or religious elements of its life, but

offers only vague hints of its political activity and progress.  The true

perspective of the several periods is sometimes lost, as when really

critical epochs in the history of these peoples are dwarfed and distorted by

a lack of sources of knowledge, while others, less significant, but

plentifully stocked with a variety of available material, bulk large and

assume an altogether unwarranted prominence.


     36. What the Babylonians and Assyrians failed to do in supplying a

continuous historical record was not accomplished for them by the later

historians of antiquity.  Herodotus, in the first Book of his "Histories,"

devotes twenty-three chapters to Babylonian affairs (Bk. I. 178-200), and

refers to an Assyrian history in which he will write more at length of these

events (I. 184).  But the latter, if written, has been utterly lost, and the

chapters just mentioned, while containing information of value, especially

that which he himself collected on the ground, or drew from an earlier

traveller, presumably Hecataeus of Miletus, give distorted and fantastic

legends where sober history might be expected.  Ctesias of Cnidos, physician

at the court of Artaxerxes Mnemon (415-398 B.C.), who seems to have had

access to some useful Assyrian material from Persian sources, introduced his

Persian History with an account of Babylonio-Assyrian affairs, in which the

same semi-mythical tales were interspersed with dry lists of kings in so

hopeless a jumble of truth and falsehood as to reconcile us to the

disappointment of having only a few fragments of it.


     37. It is, however, a cause of keen regret that the three books of

Babylonian or Chaldean History, by Berosus, have come down from the past

only in scanty excerpts of later historians.  Berosus was a Babylonian

priest of the god Bel, and wrote his work for the Macedonian ruler of

Babylonia, Antiochus Soter, about 280 B.C.  As the cuneiform writing was

still employed, he must have been able to use the original documents, and

could have supplied just the needed data for our knowledge.  Still, the

passages preserved indicate that he had no proper conception of his task,

since he filled a large part of his book with mythical stories of creation

and incredible tales of primitive history, with its prediluvian dynasties of

hundreds of thousands of years.  A postdiluvian dynasty of thirty-four

thousand ninety-one years prepares the way for five dynasties, reaching to

Nabonassar, king of Babylon (747 B.C.), from whose time the course of events

seems to have been told in greater detail down to the writer's own days.

Imperfect and crude as this work must have been, it was by far the most

trustworthy and important compendious account of Babylonio-Assyrian history

furnished by an ancient author, and for that reason would, even to-day, be

highly valued.  A still more useful contribution to the chronological

framework of history was made by Ptolemy, a geographer and astronomer of the

time of the Roman Emperor, Antoninus Pius.  Ptolemy's "Canon of Kings,"

compiled for astronomical purposes, starts with the same Nabonassar at whose

time Berosus begins to expand his history, and continues with the names and

regnal years of the Babylonian kings to the fall of Babylon.  Since Ptolemy

proceeds with the list through the Persian, Macedonian, and Roman regnal

lines in continuous succession, and connects the era of Nabonassar with

those of Philip Arridaeus and Augustus, a synchronism with dates of the

Christian era is established, by which the reign of Nabonassar can be fixed

at 747-733 B.C.  and the reigns of his successors similarly stated in terms

of our chronology.  By this means, not only is a chronological basis of

special value laid for this later age of Babylonian history, but a starting-

point is given for working backward into the earlier periods, provided that

adequate data can be secured from other sources.


     38. Happily for historical science, the original documents of Babylonia

and Assyria are unexpectedly rich in material available for this purpose.

As already stated (sect. 29), the Assyrians were remarkably gifted with the

historic sense, and not only do their royal annals and other similar

documents contain many and exact chronological statements, but there was in

vogue in the royal court a practical system which went far toward

compensating for the lack of an era according to which the dates of events

might be definitely fixed.  From the royal officers one was appointed each

year to give his name to the year.  He or his official status during that

period was called limu, and events or documents were dated by his name.  The

king usually acted as limu for the first full year of his reign.  He was

followed in succession by the Turtan, or commander-in-chief, the Grand

Vizier, the Chief Musician, the Chief Eunuch, and the governors of the

several provinces or cities.  Lists of these limi were preserved in the

royal archives, forming a fixed standard of the greatest practical value for

the checking off of events or the dating of documents.  While this system

was in use in Assyria as early as the fourteenth century, the lists which

have been discovered are of much later date and of varying length, the

longest extending from 893 B.C.  to about 650 B.C.  Sometimes to the mere

name of the limu was added a brief remark as to some event of his year.

Such a reference to an eclipse of the sun occurring in the limu of Pur-


Sagali in the reign of Ashurdan III., has been calculated to have taken

place on the fifteenth of June, 763 B.C., a fact which at once fixes the

dates for the whole list and enables its data to be compared with those

derived from the synchronisms of the canon of Ptolemy and other sources.

The result confirms the accuracy of the Assyrian document, and affords a

trustworthy chronological basis for fully three centuries of Assyrian

history.  For the earlier period before 900 B.C.  the ground is more

uncertain, but the genealogical and chronological statements of the royal

inscriptions, coupled with references to contemporaneous Babylonian kings

whose dates are calculable from native sources, supply a foundation which,

if lacking in some parts, is yet capable of supporting the structure of

historical development.


     39. The Babylonians, while they possessed nothing like the well wrought

out limu system of Assyria, and dated events by the regnal years of their

kings, had in their kings' lists, compiled by the priests and preserved in

the temples, documents of much value for historical purposes.  The "Great

List," which has been preserved, arranges the names in dynasties, and gives

the regnal years of each king.  At the end of each dynasty, the number of

the kings and the sum of their regnal years are added.  Though badly broken

in parts, this list extends over a millennium, and contains legible names of

at least seventy kings arranged in about nine dynasties.  As the last

division contains names of rulers appearing in the Assyrian and Ptolemaic

canon, the starting-point is given for a chronological organization of the

Babylonian kings, which unfortunately can be only approximately achieved,

owing to the gaps in the list.  The two other lists now available cover the

first two dynasties only of the great list.  Not only do they differ in some

respects from one another, but they do not help in furnishing the missing

names in the great list.  These can be tentatively supplied from

inscriptions of kings not mentioned on the lists, and presumably belonging

to periods in which the gaps occur.  Using all the means at their disposal,

scholars have generally agreed in placing the beginning of the first dynasty

of Babylon somewhat later than 2500 B.C.


     40. For the chronology of Babylonian history before that time, the

sources are exceedingly meagre, and all results, depending as they do upon

calculation and inference from uncertain data, must be regarded as

precarious.  Numerous royal inscriptions exist, but connections between the

kings mentioned are not easy to establish, and paleographic evidence, which

must be invoked to determine the relative age of the documents, yields often

ambiguous responses.  A fixed point, indeed, in this chaos seems to be

offered in a statement made by Nabuna'id, a king of the New Babylonian

Empire.  In searching for the foundations of the sun temple at Sippar, he

came, to use his own words, upon "the foundation-stone of Naram Sin, which

no king before me had found for 3200 years." As the date of the discovery is

fixed at about 550 B.C., Naram Sin, king of Agade, whose name and

inscriptions are known, may be placed at about 3750 B.C., and his father,

Sargon, at about 3800 B.C.  While much questioning has naturally been raised

concerning the accuracy and trustworthiness of this date thus obtained, no

valid reasons for discarding it have been presented.  It affords a

convenient and useful point from which to reckon backward and forward in the

uncertain periods from the third to the fifth millennium B.C.  By all these

aids, to which are added some genealogical statements in the inscriptions,

a series of dynasties has been worked out for this early age, and their

chronological relations to one another tentatively determined.


     41. It is possible, therefore, with a reasonable degree of accuracy, to

determine chronologically not only the great turning points in Babylonio-

Assyrian history, but even the majority of the dynasties and the reigns of

the several kings.  Founded upon this, the historical structure may be

reared, and its various stages and their relations determined.  A bird's-eye

view of these will facilitate further progress. First in order of time comes

the Rise and Development of the City-States of Old Babylonia to their

unification in the City-State of Babylon.  In the dawn of history different

primitive centres of population in the lower Tigro-Euphrates valley

appeared, attained a vigorous and expanding life, came into contact one with

another, and successively secured a limited supremacy, only to give place to

others.  The process was already in full course by 5000 B.C.  By the middle

of the third millennium, the city of Babylon pushed forward under a new

dynasty; one of its kings succeeded in driving out the Elamites, who had

invaded and were occupying the southern and central districts; the victory

was followed by the city's supremacy, which was not only more widely

extended, but, by the wisdom of its kings, was more deeply rooted, and was

thus made permanent.  With Babylonia united under Babylon, the first epoch

closed about 2000 B.C.


     42. The second period covers the Early Conflicts of Babylonia and

Assyria.  The peaceful course of united Babylonia was interrupted by the

entrance of the Kassites from the east, who succeeded in seating a dynasty

of Kassite kings upon the throne of Babylonia, and maintaining them there

for nearly six hundred years.  But this foreign intrusion and dominance had

roused into independent life a Semitic community which had its centre at

Assur on the central Tigris, and in all probability was an offshoot from

Babylonia.  This centre of active political life developed steadily toward

the north and west, but was dominated chiefly by its hostility toward

Babylonia under Kassite rule.  Having become the kingdom of Assyria, it

warred with the southern kingdom, the advantage on the whole remaining with

the Assyrian until, toward the close of the epoch, a great ruler appeared in

the north, Tiglathpileser I., under whom Assyria advanced to the first place

in the Tigro-Euphrates valley; while Babylonia, its Kassite rulers yielding

to a native dynasty, fell into political insignificance.  The forces that

controlled the age had run their course by 1000 B.C.


     43. The third period is characterized by the Ascendancy of Assyria.

The promise of pre-eminence given in Tiglathpileser I. was not fulfilled for

two centuries, owing to the flooding of the upper Mesopotamian plain with

Aramean nomads from the Arabian steppes.  At last, as the ninth century

began, Ashurnacirpal led the way in an onward movement of Assyria which

culminated in the extension of the kingdom over the entire region of western

Asia.  Shalmaneser II,, Tiglathpileser III., and Sargon, great generals and

administrators, turned a kingdom into an empire.  The first wore out the

resistance of the Syrian states, the second added Babylonia to the Assyrian

Empire, and the third, as conqueror of the north, ruled from the Persian

gulf to the border of Egypt and the upper sea of Ararat. The rulers that

followed compelled Egypt to bow, and reduced Elam to subjection, but at the

expense of the vital powers of the state.  New peoples appeared upon the

eastern border, revolt deprived the empire of its provinces, until, in less

than two decades after the death of the brilliant monarch Ashurbanipal,

Nineveh, Assyria's capital, was destroyed, and the empire disappeared

suddenly and forever.  Four centuries were occupied with this splendid

history and its tragical catastrophe.  The age closed with the passing of

the seventh century (600 B.C.).


     44. Of the partners in the overthrow of Assyria, the rebellious

governor of the province of Babylonia received as his share of the spoil the

Tigro-Euphrates valley and the Mediterranean provinces.  He founded here the

New Babylonian Empire.  Its brief career of less than a century concluded

the history of these peoples.  Under his son, the famous Nebuchadrezzar II.,

the empire was consolidated, its resources enlarged, its power displayed.

His feeble successors, however, were beset with manifold difficulties, chief

of which was the rising energy of the Medes and Persians who had shared in

the booty of Assyria.  United under the genius of Cyrus, they pushed

westward and northward, until the hour came for advancing on Babylon.  The

hollow shell of the empire was speedily crushed, and the Semitic peoples,

whose rulers had dominated this world of western Asia for more than four

millenniums, yielded the sceptre in 538 B.C.  to Cyrus the Persian.



Dawn Of History


     45. The earliest indications of human settlement in the Tigro-Euphrates

valley come from the lower alluvial plain (sect. 3) known as Babylonia.  It

is not difficult to see how the physical features of this region were

adapted to make it a primitive seat of civilization.  A burning sun, falling

upon fertile soil enriched and watered by mighty, inundating streams, -

these are conditions in which man finds ready to his hand everything needed

to sustain and stimulate his elemental wants.  Superabounding fruitfulness

of nature, plant, animal, and man, contributes to his comfort and progress.

Coming with flocks and herds from the surrounding deserts, he finds ample

pasturage and inexhaustible water everywhere, an oasis inviting him to a

permanent abiding-place.  He cannot but abandon his nomadic life for

settlement.  The land, however, does not encourage inglorious ease.  Wild

nature must be subdued and waste tracts occupied as populations increase.

The inundations are found to occur at regular intervals and to be of

definite duration.  They may be regulated and their fruitful waters directed

upon barren soils, making them fertile.  All suggests order and requires

organization on the part of those settled along the river banks.  From the

same generous source are supplied mud and bitumen for the erection of

permanent dwellings.  The energies of the inhabitants of such a country

would naturally be absorbed in developing its abundant resources.  They

would be a peaceful folk, given to agriculture.  Trade, also, is facilitated

by the rivers, natural highways through the land, and with trade comes

industry, both stimulated by the generous gifts of nature, among which the

palm-tree is easily supreme.  Thus, at a time when regions less suggestive

and responsive to human activity lay unoccupied and barren, this favored

spot was inevitably the scene of organized progressive human activity

already engaged upon the practical problems of social and political life.

It furnishes for the history of mankind the most ancient authentic records

at present known.


     46. The position of the Babylonian plain is likewise prophetic of its

history.  It is an accessible land (sect. 11).  Races and civilizations were

to meet and mingle there.  It was to behold innumerable political changes

due to invasion and conquest.  In turn, the union of peoples was to produce

a strong and abiding social amalgam, capable of absorbing aliens and

preserving their best.  This civilization, because it lay thus open to all,

was to contribute widely to the world's progress.  It made commercial

highways out of its rivers.  The passes of the eastern and northern

mountains were doorways, not merely for invading tribes, but also for

peaceful armies of merchants marching to and from the ends of the world, and

finding their common centre in its cities.


     47. At the period when history begins, all these processes of

development were already well advanced.  Not only are the beginnings of

civilization in Babylonia quite hidden from our eyes, but the various stages

in the course of that first civilization, extending over thousands of years,

are equally unknown, except as they may be precariously inferred from that

which the beginnings of historical knowledge reveal.  The earliest

inscriptions which have been unearthed disclose social and political life

already in full operation.  Not only has mankind passed beyond the period of

savage and even pastoral existence, but agriculture is the chief occupation;

the irrigating canals have begun to distribute the river water to the

interior of the land; the population is gathered into settled communities;

cities are built; states are established, ruled over by kings; the arts of

life are developed; language has already been reduced to written form, and

is employed for literary purposes; religion is an essential element of life,

and has its priests and temples.


     48. The seat of the most advanced and presumably the most ancient

historical life appears to have been the southernmost part of the Euphrates

valley.  As the river reached the gulf, which then stretched more than a

hundred miles northwest of its present shore line, it spread out over the

surrounding country in a shallow sea.  Upon the higher ground to the east

and west of the lowlands made marvellously fertile by this natural

irrigation, the earliest cities were planted.  Farthest to the south,

presumably close to the gulf and west of the river mouth, was the ancient

Eridu (now Abu Shahrein or Nowawis), the seat of a temple for the worship of

Ea, the god of the waters.  Here, no doubt, was told the story of Oannes,

the being that came up daily from the sea to converse with men, to teach

them letters, arts, and sciences, everything which could tend to soften

manners and humanize mankind, and at night returned to the deep, - a myth of

the sun, perhaps, associated with the recollection of the beginnings of

culture in this coast city which, without tradition of political importance,

was hallowed as a primitive centre of civilization and religion.  Some ten

miles to the west lay Ur, "the city" (at present called Mugheir), now a few

miles west of the river in the desert, but once, like Eridu, a commercial

city on the gulf.  Here was the temple of Sin, the moon god, the ruins of

which rise seventy feet above the plain.  Across the river, thirty miles to

the northeast, stood Larsam (now Senkereh), the biblical Ellasar, where the

sun god Shamash had his temple.  Twelve miles away to the northwest was

Uruk, the biblical Erech (now Warka), the seat of the worship of the goddess

Ishtar.  Mar (now perhaps Tel Ede), a little known site, lay about the same

distance north.  Thirty-five miles east of Mar, on the ancient canal now

known as Shatt-el-Hai, connecting the Tigris with the Euphrates, was

Shirpurla, or Lagash (now Tello), looking out across the eastern plain, the

frontier city of the early period, although fifty miles from the Tigris.

These six cities, lying at the four corners of an irregular square, form the

southernmost body of primitive communities already flourishing at the dawn

of history.


     49. Situated almost exactly in the centre of the ancient plain between

the rivers, about fifty miles north of Uruk, was the already famous city of

Nippur (now Niffer).  Here the patron deity was En-lil, "chief spirit,"

called also Bel, the "lord," god of the terrestrial world.  A long period of

prehistoric political prominence must be assumed to explain the religious

prestige of this city and of its god.  Religion is its sole distinction at

the time when records begin.  But how great must have been that prominence

to have secured for the city a claim to stand with Eridu as one of the two

earliest centres of religion!  En-lil was a father of gods, and his fame

made Nippur the shrine where many kings were proud to offer their gifts.


     50. North Babylonia had also its group of primitive cities, chief among

which was Kutha (now Tel Ibrahim), the biblical Cuthah, more than fifty

miles northwest of Nippur in the centre of the upper plain.  Its god,

Nergal, was lord of the world of the dead.  Still further north, not far

from the eastern bank of the Euphrates, was Sippar (now Abu Habba), where

the sun god, Shamash, had his temple, and in its vicinity, probably, was

Agade, once the famous capital of the land of Akkad.  More uncertain are the

sites of those northern cities which played an important part in the

political activity of the earlier days, but soon disappeared, Kulunu (the

biblical Calneh), Gishban (?), and Kish.  It is a question whether Babylon

and its sister city Borsippa should be included in this enumeration.  If

they were in existence, they were insignificant communities at this time,

and their gods, Marduk and Nabu, do not stand high in the ranks of the

earliest deities.  The greatness of the two cities was to come, and to

compensate by its splendor for the lateness of their beginnings.


     51. Who were the people by whose energy this region was transformed

into so fair and flourishing a land, at a time when elsewhere, with hardly

an exception, the upward course of humanity did not yet reveal any trace of

orderly and civilized conditions?  What are their antecedents, and whence

did they come to occupy the alluvial plain?  These questions cannot be

satisfactorily answered, because our knowledge of the facts involved is

insufficient and the conclusions drawn from them are contradictory.

Reference has already been made (sect. 26) to the linguistic phenomena of

the early Babylonian inscriptions, and the opposite inferences drawn from

them.  The historical facts bearing on the question render a clearer answer,

if also a more limited one.  Whatever may be the conjectures based upon them

as to prehistoric conditions and movements, these facts at the beginning of

history testify that the civilization was that of a Semitic people.

Inscriptions of an undoubtedly Semitic character are there, and the social,

political, and religious phenomena presented by them have nothing that

clearly demonstrates a non-Semitic character.  Nor do any inscriptions,

myths, or traditions testify, indubitably, either to a pre-Semitic

population, or to the superimposing upon it of the Semitic stock.  To the

historian, therefore, the problem resolves itself into this: how and when

did the Semitic people begin to occupy this Babylonian plain?  As the

consensus of judgment to-day seems to favor Central Arabia as the primitive

home of the Semites, their advent into Babylonia must have been made from

the west, by moving either upward, from the western side of the Persian

gulf, or downward, along the Euphrates, - a drift from the desert as steady

and continuous as the sand that creeps over the Babylonian border from the

same source.  When this movement began can only be conjectured from the

length of time presumably required to develop the civilization which existed

as early as 5000 B.C., back to which date the earliest materials must

certainly be carried.  The processes already indicated as having preceded

this time (sects. 45, 47), suggest to what distant ages the incoming of the

first settlers must be assigned.


     52. The Babylonian primitive civilization did not stand alone or

isolated in this dawn of history.  It lay in the midst of a larger world,

with some regions of which it had already entered into relations.  To the

northwest, along the Euphrates, nomadic tribes still wandered, although

there are indications that, on the upper river, in the vicinity of the old

city of Haran, a Semitic culture was already appearing.  The Bedouin of the

western desert hung on the frontier as a constant menace, or wandered into

the cultivated land to swell the Semitic population.  To the north, along

the eastern banks of the upper Tigris, and on the flanks of the mountains

were centres of primitive organization, as among the Guti and the Lulubi,

whose kings, some centuries later, left Semitic inscriptions.  But

particularly active and aggressive were the people of the highlands east of

Babylonia known by the collective name of Elam.  The country sloped gently

down to the Tigris, and was watered by streams descending from the hills.

The people were hardy and warlike.  They had already developed or acquired

from their neighbors across the river the elements of organization and

civilization.  Through their borders ran the trade-routes from the east.

Among the earliest memorials of history are evidences of their active

interference in Babylonian affairs, in which they were to play so important

a part in the future.  Commerce was to bring more distant places into the

circle of Babylonian life.  On the borders, to the south, were the ports of


southern Arabia; far to the west, the peoples of the Mediterranean coast-

lands were preparing to receive the visits of traders from the Euphrates;

while at the end of the then known world was the rich and progressive nation

in the valley of the Nile, already, perhaps, indebted to the dwellers in

Babylonia for impulses toward civilization, which they were themselves to

carry to so high a point in the ages to come.


Movements Toward Expansion And Unification


     53. The cities whose existence at the dawn of history has already been

noted, were, from the first, full of vigorous activity.  The impulses which

led to the organization of social life sought further development.  Cities

enlarged, came into touch with their neighbors, and sought to dominate them.

The varying success of these movements, the rise, splendor, and decay of the

several communities, their struggles with one another, and the ever-renewed

activity which carried them beyond the confines of Babylonia itself, make up

the first chapter in the story.  It is impossible to give a connected and

detailed account of the period, owing to the scantiness of the materials and

the difficulty of them chronologically.  The excavations of the last quarter

of a century have only begun to suggest the wealth of inscriptions and

archaeological matter which will be at the disposal of the future student.

Much new light has been gained which makes it possible to take general

views, to trace tendencies, and to prepare tentative outlines which

discoveries and investigations still to come will fill up and modify.


     54. Some general titles borne by rulers of the period afford a striking

evidence of the character of this early development.  Three of these are

worthy of special mention, namely, "King of Shumer and Akkad," "King of the

Totality (world)," "King of the Four (world-) Regions." It is evident that

two of these titles, and possibly all, refer to districts and not to cities,

although great uncertainty exists as to their exact geographical position.

The second and third would suggest universal empire, though they might be

localized upon particular regions.  The "Kingdom of the Totality" is thought

by Winckler and other scholars to have its centre in northern Mesopotamia

about the city of Haran.  "Shumer and Akkad" are regarded as including the

northern and southern parts of Babylonia.  The "Four Regions," synonymous

with the four points of the compass, would include the known world from the

eastern mountains and the Persian gulf to the Mediterranean.  Whatever may

be learned in the future respecting the exact content of these titles, they

illustrate the impulses and tendencies which were already potent in these

primitive communities.


     55. This period of expansion and unification occupies more than two

millenniums (about 4500-2250 B.C.).  Three stages may be distinguished in

what may truly be called this wilderness of years.  (1) The first is marked

by the struggles of cities within Babylonia for local supremacy.  The chief

rivalry lay between those of the north and those of the south.  (2) With the

career of Sargon I. (3800 B.C.), a new era opened, characterized by the

extension of authority beyond the borders of Babylonia as far as the

Mediterranean and the northern mountains, while yet local supremacy shifted

from city to city.  (3) The third epoch, which is, at the same time, the

termination of the period and the opening of a new age, saw the final

consolidation of Babylonian authority at home and abroad in the city-king of

Babylon, which henceforth gave its name to land and government and


civilization.  In each of these ages, some names of rulers stand out as

fixed points in the vast void, gaps of unknown extent appear, and historic

relations between individual actors upon the wide stage are painfully

uncertain.  Some account in the barest outline may be given of these kings,

in some cases hardly more than shadows, whom the progress of investigation

will in time clothe with flesh and blood, and assign the place and

significance due to their achievements.


     56. The struggle has already begun when the first known king,

Enshagsagana (about 4500 B.C.) of Kengi, probably southwestern Babylonia,

speaks of offering to the god of Nippur the spoil of Kish, "wicked of

heart." Somewhat later the representative of the south in the wars with the

northern cities, Kish and Gishban, was Shirpurla (sect. 48).  Mesilim of

Kish (about 4400 B.C.) made Shirpurla a vassal kingdom.  It recovered under

the dynasty of Ur Nina (about 4200 B.C.), who called himself king, while his

successors were satisfied with the title of patesi, or viceroy.  Two of

these successors of Ur Nina, Eannatum (Edingiranagin) and Entemena, have

left inscriptions of some length, describing their victories over cities of

the north and south.  Gishban, rivalling Kish in its hostility to the south,

found a vigorous antagonist in Eannatum, whose famous "Vulture Stele"

contains the terms imposed by him upon the patesi of that city.


     Not long after, a king of Gishban, Lugalzaggisi (about 4000 B.C.),

proclaimed himself "king of Uruk, king of the Totality," brought also Ur and

Larsam under his sway, and offered his spoil at the sacred shrine of Nippur.

He was practically lord of Babylonia.  His inscription, moreover, goes on to

declare that "from the lower sea of the Tigris and Euphrates to the upper

sea (his god) made straight his path; from the rising of the sun to the

setting of the same he gave him tribute." His authority extended from the

Persian gulf to the Mediterranean.  A later king of Kish, Alusharshid (about

3850 B.C.), wrote upon marble vases which he offered at Nippur, his boast of

having subjugated Elam and Bara'se, the elevated plains to the east and

northeast of Babylonia.


     57. It is tempting to generalize upon these six centuries and more of

history.  The most obvious fact has already been mentioned, namely, that the

movement toward expansion, incorporation, and unification is in full course.

But more definite conclusions may be reached.  There are those who see, in

the arraying of north against south, the inevitable reaction of a ruder

civilization against an older and higher one.  The earlier culture of the

south, and its more fully developed organization had pressed upon the

northern communities and attempted to absorb them in the process of giving

them civilization.  But gradual decay sapped the strength of the southern

states, and the hardier peoples of the north, having learned the arts of

their conquerors, thirsted for their riches, and at last succeeded in

overthrowing them.  A more definite view is that which beholds in the

aggressions of north upon south the steady advance of the Semitic people

upon the Sumerians (sect. 26), and the process of fastening the yoke of

Semitic political supremacy upon Babylonia, with the accompanying absorption

of Sumerian culture by the conquerors.  Another conclusion (that of Radau,

Early Babylonian History) finds the Semites coming in from the south at the

very beginning of the period and pushing northward beyond the confines of

Babylonia.  Then the Semites of the south, having become corrupted by the

higher civilization of the Sumerians, were objects of attack on the part of

the more virile Semites of the north who, turning back upon their former

track, came down and occupied the seats of their brethren and renewed the

purer Semitic element.  There may be some truth in all these

generalizations, but the positions are so opposed, and their foundations are

as yet so precarious, that assent to their definite details must, for the

present, be withheld from all of them.


     58. Shargani-shar-ali, or, as he is more commonly called, Sargon I.,

king of the city of Agade (sect. 50), introduces the second stage in early

Babylonian history.  His son, Naram Sin, is said by Nabuna'id, the last king

of the New Babylonian Empire, to have reigned three thousand two hundred

years before his own time, that is, about 3750 B.C.  Sargon lived,

therefore, about 3800 B.C., the first date fixed, with reasonable certainty,

in Babylonian history, and a point of departure for earlier and later

chronology (sect. 40).  The inscriptions coming directly from Sargon himself

and his son are few and historically unimportant.  Some, found at Nippur,

indicate that both were patrons of the temple and worshippers of its god.

A tablet of omens, written many centuries after their time, ascribes to them

a wide range of activity and splendid achievement.  While such a document

may contain a legendary element, the truth of its testimony in general is

substantiated by similar statements recorded in contract tablets of the

Sargonic age.  The very existence of such legends testifies to the

impression made by these kings on succeeding generations.  An interesting

example of this type of document is the autobiographical fragment which



     Sargon, the powerful king, King of Agade, am I.

     My mother was of low degree, my father I did not know.

     The brother of my father dwelt in the mountain.

     My city was Azupirani, situate on the bank of the Euphrates.

     (My) humble mother conceived me; in secret she brought me forth.

     She placed me in a basket-boat of rushes; with pitch she closed my


     She gave me over to the river, which did not (rise) over me.

     The river bore me along; to Akki, the irrigator, it carried me.

     Akki, the irrigator, in the . . . brought me to land.

     Akki, the irrigator, reared me as his own son.

     Akki, the irrigator, appointed me his gardener.

     While I was gardener, Ishtar looked on me with love [and]

     . . . four years I ruled the kingdom.


     (Assyrian and Babylonian Literature, p. 1.)


     59. Sargon was a great conqueror.  Within Babylonia, he was lord of

Nippur, Shirpurla, Kish, Babylon, and Uruk.  Beyond its borders, he and his

son carried their arms westward to the Mediterranean, northward into

Armenia, eastward into Elam and among the northeastern peoples, and

southward into Arabia and the islands of the Persian gulf.  To illustrate

the character of these wars, reference may be made to the omen tablet,

which, under the seventh omen, records a three years' campaign on the

Mediterranean coast, during which Sargon organized his conquests, erected

his images, and carried back the spoil to his own land.  Possessed of so

wide authority, Naram Sin assumed the proud title, for the first time

employed by a Babylonian ruler, "King of the Four (world-) Regions."


     60. The achievements of these kings were both a culmination of the

activities of the earlier city-kings, and a model for those who followed.

The former had from time to time gathered parts of the larger world under

their own sway, as Lugalzaggisi the west, and Alusharshid the east.  But the

incorporation of the whole into a single empire was the work of the

Sargonids, and no dynasty followed which did not strive after this ideal.

The immediate descendants of Naram Sin, however, have left no monuments to

indicate that they maintained their fathers' glory, and the dynasty of Agade

disappeared in a darkness which stretches over nearly half a millennium.

The scene shifts once more to Shirpurla.  Here the patesi Ur Bau (about 3500

B.C.) ruled peacefully, and was followed by other princes, whose chief

distinction in their own eyes was the building of temples and the service of

the gods.  Foremost among these in the number of inscriptions and works of

art which commemorate his career, was Gudea (about 3100 B.C.).  The only

warlike deed recorded by him was his conquest of Anshan in Elam, but the

wide range of countries laid under contribution for materials to build his

temples and palaces has led to the conviction that he must have been an

independent and vigorous ruler.  The absence of any royal titles in his

inscriptions, however, coupled with the slight reference to military

expeditions, suggests, rather, that his building operations were made

possible because his state formed part of the domains of a broad empire,

like that which Sargon founded and his successors ruled.


     61. Peace, however, in an oriental state is the sign of weakness, and

the extensive works of Gudea may have exhausted the resources of Shirpurla

so that, after a few generations, its patesis acknowledged the sway of the

kings of Ur, who came forward to make a new contribution to the unification

of Babylonia.  Ur Gur of Ur and his son Dungi (about 3000 B.C.) were, like

their predecessors of Shirpurla, chiefly proud of their temples, if the

testimony of the great mass of the inscriptions from them may be accepted.

But they are distinguished from Gudea in that they built their temples in

all parts of the land of Babylonia, from Kutha in the north to Shirpurla,

Nippur, Uruk, and Ur in the south.  The title which they assumed, that of

"King of Shumer and Akkad," now first employed by Babylonian kings,

indicates that the end which they had attained was the union of all

Babylonia, north and south, under one sceptre.  The building of the various

temples in the cities was the evidence both of their interest in the welfare

of the whole land and of their authority over it.  They realized the ideal

which ruled all succeeding dynasties, namely, a united Babylonia, although

it is probable that their authority over the different districts was often

very slight.  Patesis still maintained themselves in Shirpurla and,

doubtless, elsewhere, although they acknowledged the supremacy of the king

of Ur.  It is not without reason, therefore, that two dynasties ruling in

other cities are assigned to the period immediately following that of the

dynasty of Ur.  These are a dynasty of Uruk, consisting of kings Singashid

and Singamil the former of whom calls himself also king of Amnanu, and a

dynasty of Isin, a city of southern Babylonia, whose site is as yet unknown.

The latter group of kings claimed authority also over Nippur, Ur, Eridu, and

Uruk, and called themselves "Kings of Shumer and Akkad." As such, they would

be successors of the kings of Ur, in control of united Babylonia.


     62. Ur came forward again after some generations and dominated the land

under a dynasty whose founder was Gungunu; its members were Ine Sin, Bur Sin

II., Gimil Sin, some others less known, and, probably, a second Dungi (about

2800-2500 B.C.).  The various forms of titles attached to some of the kings

of Ur have led some scholars to group them in several dynasties, but the

evidence is not at present sufficient.  The kings above mentioned,

considered together, are no longer called kings of Shumer and Akkad, but

bear the prouder title of "King of the Four Regions." Our knowledge of their

activities fully justifies them in assuming it.  Numerous contract tablets,

dated from events in their reigns, testify to campaigns in Syria, Arabia,

and Elam.  The most vigorous of these rulers was Dungi II., who reigned more

than fifty years.  He built temples in various cities, made at least nine

expeditions into the west, and seems to have placed members of his own

family as governors in the conquered cities, if one may trust the

interpretation of inscriptions to the effect that his daughters were

appointed rulers in Syria and Anshan.  He was worshipped as a god after his

death, and his successors named the eighth month of the year in his honor.

This dynasty may, not unreasonably, be regarded as one of the most notable

thus far ruling in Babylonia, uniting, as it did, authority over the

homeland with vigorous movement into the surrounding regions, and control

over the east and the west.


     63. A period of some confusion followed the passing of this sovereignty

of Ur (about 2400-2200 B.C.).  A dynasty of the city of Babylon, the first

recorded by the priests in the dynastic tablets, was founded by Sumu-abu

(about 2400 B.C.) and contested the worldwide supremacy of Ur.  Larsam was

the seat of another kingdom, the first king of which was Nur Adad, who was

succeeded by his son Siniddinam.  The latter called himself "king of Shumer

and Akkad," as though he would again bring about that unity which had

disappeared with the downfall of Ur.  But other movements were preparing

which, apparently threatening the overthrow of Babylonian civilization and

governments as a whole, were to bring about an ultimate and permanent

establishment of Babylonian unity.  The Elamites upon the eastern highlands,

between whom and the communities of eastern Babylonia war had been frequent,

and who had been more than once partially conquered, reacted under the

pressure and entered the land, bent upon conquest.  The souther cities

suffered the most severely from this inroad, as they lay nearest the line of

advance of the invading peoples.  At first the Elamites raided the cities

and carried off their booty to their own land, but later were able to

establish themselves in Babylonian territory.  How early these incursions

began is quite uncertain.  In the fragments of Berosus, a "Median" dynasty

of eight kings is mentioned the approximate date of which is from 2450 B.C.

to 2250 B.C.  This statement may vaguely suggest the presence of Elamites in

Babylonia during two centuries, and the culmination of their inroads in the

possession of supreme authority over at least part of the land.  That new

dynasties appeared in Babylon and Larsam, succeeding to that of Ur about

2400 B.C., may have some connection with these inroads, and inscriptional

evidence makes it certain that Elamite supremacy was felt in Babylonia by

2300 B.C.  Native dynasties disappeared before the onslaught.  One of these

invading bodies was led by King Kudurnankhundi, whose exploits are referred

to by the Assyrian king of the seventh century, Ashurbanipal.  The Elamite

had carried away a statue of the goddess Nana from Uruk 1635 years before,

that is, about 2290 B.C.  Ashurbanipal restored it to its temple.  The

region in which Uruk and Larsam were situated seems to have borne the brunt

of the assault.  The former city was devastated and its temples sacked.  The

latter became a centre of Elamite power.  A prince whose Semitic name is

read Rim Sin, the son of a certain Kudurmabuk, ruler of Iamutbal, a district

of west Elam, set up his kingdom at Larsam, apparently on the overthrow of

Siniddinam, and for at least a quarter of a century (about 2275 B.C.) made

himself a power in southern Babylonia.  He claimed authority over Ur, Eridu,

Nippur, Shirpurla, and Uruk, conquered Isin, and called himself "king of

Shumer and Akkad." Evidently the Elamite element was well on the way toward

absorption into Babylonian life.


     64. What the Elamites really brought to pass in Babylonia was a general

levelling of the various southern city-states which had contested the

supremacy with one another.  Their rulers overthrown, their people enslaved,

their possessions carried away, rude foreigners dominating them, they were

no longer in a position to maintain the ancient rivalry with one another, or

to contest the supremacy with the cities of the north.  When the foreigners

had weakened themselves by amalgamation with the conquered and by accepting

their religion and culture, the way was opened for a purely Babylonian

power, hitherto but slightly affected by these invasions, to drive out the

enemy, and bring the whole land under one authority which might hope for

permanence.  This power was the city-state of Babylon.


     65. It is tempting to seek further light on this Elamite period from

two other sources.  The first of these is the native religious literature.

In the so-called omen tablets and the hymns, are not infrequent references

to troubles from the Elamites.  A hymn, associated with Uruk (RP, 2 ser. I.

pp. 84 ff.), lamenting a misfortune which has fallen upon the city, is, by

some scholars, connected with the expedition of Kudurnankhundi (sect. 63).

In one of the episodes of the Gilgamesh epic (sect. 28), the deliverance of


Uruk from a foreign enemy, Khumbaba, forms the background of the scene.  It

may embody a tradition of this period, and preserve the name of another

Elamite invader.  But the allusions are all too indefinite to serve any

historical purpose other than as illustrations of the reality and severity

of invasions from Elam.  The Hebrew religious literature has also furnished

material which is thought to bear on this epoch.  In Genesis xiv. it is

said, "It came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king

of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim; that they

made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab

king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela. . . .

Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they

rebelled.  And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that

were with him." In the situation here depicted, and the names of the kings

and localities mentioned, have been found grounds for assigning the episode

to the Elamite period of Babylonian history.  Arioch of Ellasar would be Rim

Sin (in another reading of his name, Eri-Aku) of Larsam; Amraphel of Shinar

is identified with Khammurabi of Babylon; Tidal of Goiim, with Thargal of

Gutium; while Chedorlaomer is a good Elamite name in the form Kudurlagamar.

On this hypothesis, the latter would be the overlord of the Babylonian kings

and the heir to the Babylonian authority over Syria and Palestine which had

been maintained by Sargon and others of the earlier time.  All this is not

improbable, and adds interest to our study of this dark period, but it is

not sufficiently substantiated, either by the connection in which it stands,

or by the evidence of contemporaneous Babylonian material, to warrant the

acceptance of it as actual historical fact.  It is true that names similar

to these have also been found in Babylonian tablets of various periods, but

the reading of the texts is not so certain, or their relation to this epoch


so clear, as to offer any substantial support to the narrative.


Civilization Of Old Babylonia: Political And Social Life


     66. While the materials for sketching the historical development of the

early Babylonian communities are often quite inadequate, fragmentary, and

difficult to organize, those which illustrate the life of the people are not

only more numerous, but they also afford a more complete picture.  To

present a history of the civilization in its progress is, indeed, equally

impossible, but, as a compensation, it may be remembered that oriental life

in antiquity passed through few changes.  Kings and empires might flourish

and disappear, but manners, customs, and occupations continued from century

to century much as they had been in the beginning.  Therefore it is possible

to gather up in a single view the various aspects of the civilization of

this people which, in its political career of more than two thousand years,

was subject to the vicissitudes which the preceding chapters have described.


     67. The earliest occupations of the inhabitants were agricultural.

Great flocks of sheep and herds of cattle and goats, enumerated in the lists

of temple property, indicate that pastoral activities were not neglected.

Herdsmen and shepherds formed a numerous class, recruited from the Bedouin

constantly floating in from the desert.  The chief grazing-grounds were to

the west of the Euphrates.  Here were gathered together herds belonging to

different owners under the care of independent herdsmen who were paid to

watch and protect their charges.  But the raising of grain and fruits was by

far more common, as might be expected from the nature of the country.  The

yield from the fertile soil was often two hundred-fold, sometimes more.  All

Babylonian life was affected by this predominating activity.  The need of

irrigation of the fields fostered an immense development of the canal

system.  At first, the lands nearest the rivers were watered by the

primitive devices even now employed on their banks.  It was a genial thought

of King Urukagina to construct a canal, and wisely did he name it after the

goddess Nina (Records of the Past, 2 ser. I. p. 72), for the work was worthy

of divine approval.  Soon the canal became the characteristic feature of the

Babylonian landscape and the chief condition of agricultural prosperity.

Land was named according to that which it produced, and some scholars hold

that it was measured according to the amount of seed which could be sown

upon it.  At least three of the months had names connected with agriculture.

The fruits of the fields were the chief gifts to the temples, and the king

exacted his taxes in grain which was stored in royal granaries.  It seems

that the agricultural year began in September (the month tashritu,

"beginning").  Then the farmer, usually a tenant of a rich noble, made his

contract.  The rent was ordinarily one-third of the farm's production,

although sometimes tenant and landlord divided equally.  Great care was

taken that the tenant should keep everything in good order.  Oxen were used

for farm-work, and numerous agricultural implements were employed.  Sowing

and reaping, ploughing and threshing, irrigating and cultivating, - these

constituted the chief events in the lives of the great mass of the

Babylonian people, and made their land one of the richest and most

prosperous regions in all the world.


     68. The pursuits of industry appear from the beginning to have engaged

the activities of the Babylonians.  Differentiation of labor has already

taken place, and the names of the workers illustrate the variety of the

occupations.  The inscriptions mention the carpenter, the smith, the metal-

worker, the weaver, the leather-worker, the dyer, the potter, the brick-

maker, the vintner, and the surveyor.  The abundance of wool led very early

to the manufacture of woollen cloths and rugs, in which the Babylonians

surpassed all others.  The city of Mar (sect. 48) was famous for a kind of

cloth, called after it Mairatu.  Gold, silver, copper, and bronze were

worked up into articles of ornament and utility.  The making of bricks was

a most important industry in a country where stone was practically

unobtainable.  The month simanu (May-June) was the "month of bricks," during

which the conditions for their manufacture were most favorable; inundations

had brought down the sifted alluvium which lay conveniently at hand; the sun

shone mildly enough to bake the clay slowly and evenly; the reeds, used as

a platform on which to lay the bricks for drying, or chopped finely and

mixed with the clay, were fresh and abundant.  Innumerable quantities were

used yearly.  Sun-dried bricks were poor building material, and houses

needed constant repairing or rebuilding after the heavy rains of the winter.

The bricks baked in the kiln, of much more durable character, were used for

the outer lining of temples and palaces.


     69. The position of Babylonia gave it commercial importance, the

evidences of which go back to the earliest times.  Its central and

accessible position, its wealth in natural products of an indispensable

kind, its early industrial activity, all contributed to this end.  Its lack

of some materials of an equally indispensable character was an additional

motive for exchange.  Over the Persian gulf teak-wood found at Eridu was

brought from India.  Cotton also made its way from the same source to the

southern cities.  Over Arabia, by way of Ur, which stood at the foot of a

natural opening from the desert, and owed its early fame and power, it may

be, in no small degree, to its consequent commercial importance, were led

the caravans laden with stone, spices, copper, and gold from Sinai, Yemen,

and Egypt.  Door-sockets of Sinaitic stone found at Nippur attest this

traffic.  To the north led the natural highways afforded by the rivers, and

from thence, at the dawn of history, the city-kings brought cedar-wood from

the Syrian mountains for the adornment of palaces and temples.  From the

East, down the pass of Holwan, came the marble and precious metal of the

mountains.  Much of this raw material was worked over by Babylonian

artisans, and shipped back to the less favored lands, along with the grain,

dates, and fish, the rugs and cloths, of native production.  All this

traffic was in the hands of Babylonian traders who fearlessly ventured into

the borders of distant countries, and must have carried with them thither

the knowledge of the civilization and wealth of their own home, for only

thus can the wide-spread influence of Babylonian culture in the earliest

periods be explained.


     70. Babylonian society was well differentiated.  At the basis of it lay

the slave population, the necessary condition of all economic activity in

antiquity.  Slaves were employed upon the farms, by the manufacturers and in

the temples.  The sources of the supply were various.  War furnished many;

others had fallen from the position of free laborers; still others were

purchased from abroad, or were children of native bondsmen.  Rich private

owners or temple corporations made a business of hiring them out as

laborers.  They were humanely treated; the law protected them from injury;

they could earn money, hold property, and thus purchase their freedom.  Laws

exist which suggest that young children could not be separated from their

slave-parents in case of the sale of the latter.  Next in the scale stood

the free laborer who hired himself out for work like that of the slave, and

was his natural competitor.  How he could continue to secure higher wages -

as seems to be the case - is a problem which Peiser thinks explicable from

the fact that his employer was not liable for damages in case of an injury,

nor forced to care for him if he were sick.  In both of these situations the

law secured the reimbursement and protection of the slave (Mitteilungen der

Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft, 1896, 3), who could therefore safely work

for less money.  There are some references to wages in the contracts of the

time which indicate that the free laborer received from four to six shekels

($3.00 to $4.50) a year, and food.  He made a written contract with his

employer, in which were specified the rate and the length of time of

employment.  It is evident, however, that such laborers must have been few

in comparison with slaves, and have steadily declined toward the lower

position.  The tenant-farmer must have been an important constituent of the

social body, although he does not play a very prominent part.  He rented the

farm, hired the laborers, and superintended the agricultural operations.

Great proprietors seem to have preferred the method of cultivating their

estates by tenant-farmers, as many contracts of this kind attest.  Of the

rent paid in kind mention has been made.  The free peasant proprietor had by

this time well-nigh disappeared before the rich and aristocratic landowner,

and the tenant-farmer had taken his place.  In the cities tradesmen and

artisans were found in great numbers, and held in high esteem.  Whether at

this time they had been formed into guilds according to their several

trades, as was the case later, is uncertain.  Merchants had their business

organized; firms carried on their mercantile operations from generation to

generation, records of which have been preserved; and this class of citizens

must have been increasingly influential.  At the summit of the social system

was the aristocracy, headed by the king.  The nobles lived on their estates

and at the court of the king, alternately.  The scanty evidence suggests

that they held their estates from the king by a kind of feudal tenure.  They

owed military service and tribute.  They had numerous dependants and slaves

who labored for them and in turn enjoyed their protection.


     71. The right of holding private property in land was already in force

in Babylonia.  It may be that pasture-land was still held in common, and the

custom of deeding property to a son or adopted slave, on condition of the

parent receiving his support during his lifetime from the property, is a

relic of the transition from family to individual ownership.  The king,

theoretic owner by divine right of all the land, had long ago distributed it

among his vassals, either in fee or perpetual possession.  Careful surveys

were made, and inscribed stones, set up on the limits of a property,

indicated the possessor and invoked the curse of the gods on any who should

interfere with property rights.  Ground could be leased or handed down by

will.  In a community where trade was so important, wealth other than in

land was common.  Grain and manufactured goods, stored in warehouses in the

cities, and precious metals formed no small part of the resources of the

citizens.  There still survived, in some transactions, payment in kind,

grain or cattle; but in general the use of metals for exchange was in vogue.

Naturally they became standards of value.  They were weighed out and

fashioned in bars.  The shekel, weighing somewhat more than half an ounce

avoirdupois, the mina of sixty shekels, and the talent of sixty minas were

the standard weights, though there were other systems in use.  Money was

loaned, at first on condition of the borrower performing a certain amount of

labor for it, later on an agreement to pay interest, usually at a very high



     72. On the whole, Babylonia life from the material point of view must

have been active and agreeable.  Cities were protected by high and thick

walls to guard against enemies.  Some sort of local organization existed for

town government.  Houses were simple and low, built with thick mud walls and

flat roofs of reeds and mud.  The streets were narrow and dirty, the

receptacles of all the sweepings of the houses.  When the street filled up

to the level of the house doors, these were closed, the house built up

another story, the floor raised to correspond, and a new door provided.

Many houses were manufactories and shops at the same time, the merchant

having his slaves or laborers do their work on the premises.  On higher

points stood the palaces of nobles and king, or the stately temples of the

patron gods.  In the country, the houses of the proprietors were surrounded

by palm-trees and gardens.  The furniture was very simple, - chair and stool

to sit on by day, and a mat on which to sleep at night, flint and metal

knives and a few terra-cotta bowls and jars for cooking and eating purposes,

the oven for baking, and the fire-stick for kindling the fire.  For food,

the Babylonian had his inevitable grain and dried fish; the grain he ground

and ate in round cakes seasoned with dates or other fruit; his drink was

wine and beer.  To wear much clothing in such a land was a super-fluity.

Rulers are depicted with quilted skirts reaching to the ankles, with no

upper garment or headgear.  Others wear thick flat quilted caps.  Naram Sin

of Agade appears in a pointed hat with tunic thrown over his left shoulder

and breast.  Less important personages have hardly more than the loincloth.

As for hair and beard, men of the earliest period seem to have been smoothly

shaven, unless one is to suppose that the artist felt himself unequal to

representing hair.  Later, by the time of Sargon, the beard and hair are

worn long, and the custom continued to be followed.


     73. An important element of early Babylonian society was the family.

It had its laws and its religion.  While private property was recognized,

yet often the consent of the family was required for the sale of land

belonging to one of its circle.  The father was already the recognized head.

Some traces of a primitive right of the mother exist, but they are survivals

of what is quite antiquated.  Ancient laws, preserved in late copies,

illustrate family relations which long prevailed:


     If a son say to his father, "Thou art not my father," he can cut off

(his locks), make him a slave, and sell him for money.  If a son say to his

mother, "Thou art not my mother," she can cut off his locks, turn him out of

town, or (at least) drive him away from home (i. e., she can have him

deprived of citizenship and of inheritance, but his liberty he loses not).

If a father say to his son, "Thou art not my son," the latter has to leave

house and field (i. e., he loses everything).  If a mother say to her son,

"Thou art not my son," he shall leave house and furniture (ABL, p. 445).


     Giving in marriage was an affair of the father, and was entirely on a

mercantile basis.  The prospective bridegroom paid a stipulated sum for his

bride, varying according to his wealth, sometimes a shekel, sometimes a

mina.  Some religious ceremonies accompanied the marriage celebration.  The

wife usually brought a dowry to her husband.  Polygamy and concubinage were

not uncommon.  The wife was completely under her husband's control.  In

certain circumstances she could be sold as a slave, or put to death.

Divorce was very easy, since the husband had merely to bid the wife depart,

giving her a writ of divorcement.  The only restraint, and that probably a

strong one, in the case of a Babylonian, was that he was generally required

to restore to the wife the value of her dowry.  Sometimes by contract the

wife had the control of her property, and was thereby in a much better

position.  To have children was the supreme end of marriage, and sterility

was a serious misfortune.  In that case adoption was a not uncommon

recourse, accomplished by carefully drawn up legal forms.  Children thus

adopted had full rights.  Adoption also was evidently an easy way of

obtaining additional hands for service at home and in the fields, being

really another form of hiring servants; hence often an adult was thus taken

into a family.


     74. The position occupied by the family in the social sphere was taken

by the state in the domain of political life.  It is held that the state was

formed out of the union of families, indeed was a greater family with the

king as father at its head (Peiser, MVAG, 1896, 3).  In its first

recognizable form, however, the state was a city gathered about a temple,

the centre of worship.  As has already been noted (sect. 48), each of the

city-states of Babylonia had its god with whom its interests were

identified.  Religion, therefore, was fundamental in Babylonian politics,

the bond of civic unity, the ground of political rights, authority, and

progress.  With it, no doubt, was also closely associated the economic

element.  The dependence of prosperity, and even of life itself, upon the

proper regulation of the water supply encouraged settlement in the most

favorable localities, and required organization of the activities centred

there.  Only by co-operation under a central authority could the canals be

kept open, due regard be paid to the claims of all upon the common supply,

and dangers from flood or famine be grappled with energetically and in time

to safeguard the common interests.  Self-protection from enemies contributed

to the same end.  The nomads from the desert and the mountain tribes of the

east were equally eager to enjoy the fruits of the fertile Babylonian

fields; their inhabitants must needs combine to ward off inroads from all

sides.  All these elements entered into and modified the character and

course of Babylonian politics, and they gave a particular firmness and

prominence to the idea of the state into which, from the earliest period,

all family, clan, and tribal interests had been completely merged.


     75. These Babylonian city-states have kings at their head.  The

earliest name given to the ruler is patesi, a term which is most

satisfactorily explained as having a religious significance, and as

testifying to the fundamental position and prerogative of the ruler as a

priest of the city god.  It suggests that, in the primitive Babylonian

community, the place of supreme importance and influence was occupied by the

priest as the representative of deity, as the mediator between the clans and

the gods on whom they depended.  The attitude and activity of the early

kings confirm this suggestion.  They are, first of all, pious worshippers of

the gods.  They build temples and adorn them with the wealth of their

kingdoms.  They bestow upon the gods the richest gifts.  The favor of deity

is their supremest desire.  Piety is their highest virtue.  The duties of

religion are an indispensable and interminable element of their life.

Before the gods they come, as dependants and slaves, to make their

offerings.  They are girded about with burdensome ritual restrictions, the

violation of which would entail disaster upon themselves and their people,

and to which, therefore, they conform with constant alacrity and even with

zeal.  On the other hand, they claim before their subjects regard and

reverence due to these intimate divine relations.  Their inscriptions

declare that they are nourished on the milk of the gods, or are their

offspring, sons begotten of them; that power and sovereignty are by right of

divine descent or appointment.  It is not wonderful that, while these rulers

placed their statues in the temples to be constantly before the eye of

deity, their subjects should offer them divine homage.  Indeed, from the

time of Sargon of Agade, kings claim to be gods and do not hesitate to

prefix the sign of divinity to their names (Radau, Early Babylonian History,

pp. 307 ff.).  All these prerogatives, however, do not free them from

responsibility to their subjects, but rather intensify the expectations

centred in them.  They must obtain divine blessing for the state; they must

themselves battle in defence of their people.  Thus the Babylonian king is

a warrior, going out to protect his dominions against wild beasts or hostile

men.  To kill the lion or the wild ox is an indispensable part of his

duties, and he goes forth in the strength of the gods for these heroic

struggles.  He is as proud of the trophies of the chase as of those of the

battlefield, and both alike he dedicates to the divine powers by whose aid

he has conquered.  He represents, also, the more peaceful interests of the

state as the patron of industry; he appears like king Ur Nina, with the

basket of the mason on his head, or rehearses his services in opening new

canals, building granaries, and importing foreign trees to beautify and

enrich the land, thus establishing his claim to be the father and shepherd

of his people.


     76. The constitution of a state ruled by a king with such prerogatives

and position is naturally summed up in the ruler.  The citizen, while he

expects protection and justice, is a subject; the officials are the king's

dependants; his will is law; and the strength of the state depends upon the

personality of its head.  Yet it is also true that, where industry and

commerce were so early and so highly developed as in Babylonia, the

arbitrariness of the ruler was modified by the necessity of a well-ordered

and strictly administered body of constitutional principles.  Trade was

dependent on the admission and protection of foreigners while in the

country, and they seem to have had no difficulty in securing citizenship,

and even in obtaining official positions.  The revenues were secured by

various systems of taxation.  Surveys of state property were made, on the

basis of which land taxes were levied.  The temples took their tithe.

Customs duties were paid at the city gate.  In time of war, the king rode in

his chariot at the head of his troops, as illustrated in the stele of the

Vultures, where Edingiranagin (sects. 56, 85) holds in his hand the curved

weapon for throwing, and his warriors are armed with spears.  At the close

of the battle he beats out the brains of captives with his club in honor of

the gods.  The city of the same king seems to have possessed a coat of arms,

"the lion-headed eagle with outspread wings," its claws in the backs of two

lions, significant of the corporate consciousness of the state even at this

early day.


     77. But what shows most clearly the idea of political organization as

established in Babylonia is the legal system.  Fragments of law codes are

still in existence governing the relations of the family (sect. 73), and,

from the abundance of legal documents containing decisions, agreements,

penalties, etc., might be drawn up a body of law which bore on such various

topics as adoption, exchange, marriage, divorce, stealing, adultery, and

other crimes, renting and sale of property, inheritance, loans, partnership,

slavery, and interest.  No business arrangement seems to have been complete

without a written contract, signed by the parties concerned in the presence

of witnesses, who also affixed their signatures to the document.  Should a

difficulty or question in dispute arise, the contestants had several methods

of procedure.  They could choose an arbitrator by whose decision they agreed

to abide; or, sometimes, the complainant appealed to the king, who with his

elders heard the complaint and rendered judgment.  Sometimes a court of

judges was established, before which cases were brought.  Whatever was the

process, the decision, when rendered, was written down in all the fulness

and formality of legal phraseology, duly signed and sealed with the finger-

nail or the private or official seal of all the parties.  That the king

himself was not above the law, at least in the ideal conception of political

philosophers of the time, may be concluded from an ancient bit of political

wisdom preserved in a copy in the library of Ashurbanipal of Assyria which

begins: "If the king gives not judgment according to the law, the people

perish . . . if he gives not judgment according to the law of the land, (the

god) Ea . . . gives his place to another, - if he gives not judgment

according to the statutes, his country suffers invasion." Very suggestive is

another line of the same document.  "If he gives not judgment according to

(the desire of) his nobles, his days are long" (IV. Rawlinson, 55).  Thus

gods and the king alike are regarded as pledged to the maintenance of

justice.  The parties to a contract swear by the god, the king, and the city

that they will keep their agreements.  The abundance of this legal material

has led some scholars to the conclusion voiced by Professor Maspero, who

declares that these records "reveal to us a people greedy of gain, exacting,

litigious, and almost exclusively absorbed by material concerns" (Dawn of

Civilization, p. 760).  While there may be truth in this verdict, no one can

deny that the spectacle of a people, in these early times, carrying on their

affairs through agreements sanctioned by the state, and settling their

quarrels by process of legal procedure is one which arouses surprise, if not

admiration, and indicates a conception of civic order full of the promise of


Civilization Of Old Babylonia: Literature, Science, Art, And Religion


     78. A People as far advanced in social and political organization as

were the ancient Babylonians could not have failed to make similar progress

in the higher elements of civilization.  They were, indeed, pre-eminently a

practical folk, and were guided in all their activities by the material ends

to be gained.  Their literary remains will serve as an illustration in

point.  Writing, in use among them from the earliest times, was primarily

employed for business purposes, in contracts and other legal documents.

Likewise the very practical conjuration formulae were the most numerous of

the religious texts.  The art of writing was confined in great measure to

priestly circles, to scribes taught in the priestly schools and associated

with the temples.  Documents of all kinds were written to order by these

scribes, and the signature affixed by pressing the thumb-nail or a seal into

the clay.  The difficulty of acquiring the complicated cuneiform script cut

off the majority of the people from ever using it.  For teaching it, a

number of text-books were employed which were copied by the students.  Some

of the most valuable inscriptional material, like the kings' lists, have

come down to us in these students' copies.  In Sippar, an inscription on a

small round tablet has been found, the contents of which suggest that it may

have been an ancient diploma or medal of that famous priestly school.  It

reads, "Whosoever has distinguished himself at the place of tablet-writing

shall shine as the light" (Hilprecht, Recent Research, etc., p. 86).  The

scribes were, indeed, not only an honorable, but even an indispensable

element of Babylonian society; upon them depended social and political

progress.  The large number of letters now in our museums from officials and

private persons, both men and women, shows that communication by means of

writing was widespread, but all letters were probably put into writing by

scribes, and it is to be presumed that scribes were employed to read them to

their recipients.  One cannot safely argue from these letters or from the

business documents that ability to read and write belonged to the people at



     79. Old Babylonia was, from the earliest historical period, not merely

in possession of a highly conventionalized form of writing, but already had

also begun to produce a literature which embraced no narrow range of

subjects.  The chief element in it was religious, consisting of hymns,

psalms, myths, ritual prescripts, and votive inscriptions.  Even where

religion is not directly the subject, the documents show its influence.

Thus the astronomical and astrological texts are from priestly circles, and

the epic and descriptive poetry deals with the gods and heroes of mythology.

Reference has already been made to the legal codes and to fragments of

political wisdom, while our knowledge of the history of the age comes from

the various royal inscriptions written on palace walls, cylinders, steles,

and statues.  The origin of this literary activity lies back of the

beginning of history.  Before the age of Sargon, once thought primitive,

extends a long period from which important royal texts have been preserved.

Sargon, indeed, is thought to have focussed the literary activity of his

time in a series of religious works prepared for his royal library in Agade,

and no doubt every ruler who obtained wider dominion than that over a single

city-state took occasion to foster science and literature.  Even Gudea of

Shirpurla, whose political position is uncertain, had long narratives of his

pious acts carved on his statues for the enlightenment and praise of

posterity.  Chief among these patrons of learning was the founder of

Babylonian unity, Khammurabi, under whom the previous achievements of

scholars, theologians, and poets were gathered together and edited into

literary works of prime importance.  In his time or shortly after, the

cosmogonic narratives, the rituals, the epics, the laws, and the

astronomical works were put into the form in which they are now preserved.


     80. The characteristics of all Babylonio-Assyrian literature, as

already enumerated (sect. 34), were stamped upon it in this early period.

The material in stone and clay, upon which alone from the first men wrote,

compelled simplicity of utterance.  Religion, the first subject for literary

effort, determined the style and dominated the content of subsequent

literature.  Religion is responsible for the stereotyped phraseology and the

repetitiousness approaching monotony, the expressions having become fixed at

an early period and employed in sacred ceremonials at a time when literature

was looked upon as a gift of the gods and set apart for their service.  Thus

what at the beginning was a desirable repetition of holy words became at

last the accepted form for all literary utterance.  Poetry evidently was the

earliest and most favored medium of literature, for it reached a

comparatively high stage of development.  The lyric appears in hymns,

prayers, and psalms for use in the liturgical worship.  Narrative poetry is

represented in a variety of fragments which describe the adventures of early

heroes who have dealings with gods and monsters of the primeval world.  Even

the culminating achievement of an epic has been reached in the story of

Gilgamesh, preserved in twelve books, a Babylonian Odyssey.  This poetry is

not naive in character; already epithets have become conventional; rhythm

pervades it, rising into parallelism, the balancing of expressions in

corresponding lines, phrases, or sentences, which express now antithetic

ideas, now the same idea in different forms.  Even metre and strophical

arrangement are regarded by some scholars as discoverable in the hymns and

epic fragments.  How far back in the unknown past must be placed the

beginnings of this literary activity which has attained such development in

this early age of Babylonia!


     81. The authors of these writings are unknown.  A few names have come

down in connection with certain poems, but it is not unlikely that they are

names of scribes who copied, or of priests who recited the epics or the

hymns.  The fact is significant, for it indicates that the literature is the

work of a class, not of individuals; that it grew into form under the

shaping of many hands; that what has survived is, in its well-organized

whole, the flower of uncounted generations of priestly activity.  The books

were made up of pages, numbered according to the number of tablets required;

each tablet was marked for identification with the opening words of the

book; the tablets were deposited in the temples in chambers prepared with

shelves for the purpose.  Editors and commentators were already busy,

arranging and revising the literature of the past.  Scholars have concluded

that the narrative of the deluge in the Gilgamesh epic is composed of two

earlier versions joined together by such a reviser.  Whether these temple

libraries were open to the public is questionable, and indeed one is not to

conclude from this splendid outburst of early literature that the

Babylonians were therefore a literary people, even as one cannot argue from

the abundance of written business documents that there was a general ability

to read and write.  That the production of literary works and interest in

them were confined primarily to the priests, and secondarily to the upper

classes, is, in our present scarcity of information, the safest conclusion.

     82. What has already been said will prepare the reader for a judgment

upon the general character of this literature.  The material on which it

must needs be written, the early age in which it appears, and the priestly

influence which dominates it are to be taken into account in such an

estimate.  It is not just to bring into comparison the literary work of

later peoples, such as the Hebrews or the Greeks; the Egyptian literature of

the same period may more properly be regarded as a competitor.  Thus tested,

the Babylonian undoubtedly comes off superior.  Its imagery, while sometimes

fantastic, is often bold and strong, sometimes weird, even fresh and

delicate.  Its form, particularly in the poetry, is highly developed,

rhythmical, and flowing.  Its thought is not seldom profound with the

mysteries of life and death and vigorous in grappling with these problems.

Especially remarkable is the fine talent for narration, as Tiele has

observed in his estimate of the literature (BAG, pp. 572 f).  Over against

Maspero's strange dictum that "the bulk of Chaldean literature seems nothing

more than a heap of pretentious trash" (Dawn of Civ., p. 771), may be placed

Sayce's general remark that "even if we judge it from a merely literary

point of view, we shall find much to admire" (Babylonian Literature, p. 70),

and the more detailed conclusion of Baumgartner, particularly as to the

Gilgamesh Epic, that, "regarded purely as poetry, it has a kind of primitive

force, haunting voices that respond to the great problems of human life,

suffering, death, and the future, dramatic vividness of representation and

utterance, a painting of character and a depicting of nature which produce

strong effects with few strokes" (Geschichte der Weltlitteratur, I. p. 84).

The influence which this literature exerted upon other peoples is a proof of

its power.  Its mythological conceptions reappear in Hebrew imagery; its

epic figures in Greek religious lore.  The dependence of the Hebrew

narratives of the creation and deluge upon the similar Babylonian stories

may be uncertain, but the form of the hymns, their lyrical and rhythmical

structure, has, in all probability, formed the model for Hebrew psalmody,

while many of the expressions of religious feeling and aspiration, first

wrought out in the temples of Babylonia, have entered into the sacred

language of universal religion.


     83. The ancient Babylonians had made some important advances in the

direction of scientific knowledge and its application to life.  Both the

knowledge and its application, however, were inspired and dominated by

religion, a fact which has its good and evil aspects.  No doubt, religion

acted as a powerful stimulus to the entering of the various fields of

knowledge on the part of those best fitted to make discoveries, the priests;

to this fact is due the remarkably early acquisitions of the Babylonians in

these spheres.  On the other hand, knowledge sought not for its own sake,

but in the interests of religion, was conceived of under religious forms,

employed primarily for religious purposes, and subordinated to religious

points of view.  The notion of the universe, for example, was primarily that

of a region where men and gods dwelt; its compartments were arranged to

provide the proper accommodations for them.  The earth was figured as an

inverted basket, or bowl (the mountain of the world), its edges resting on

the great watery deep.  On its outer surface dwelt mankind.  Within its

crust was the dark abode of the dead.  Above, and encompassing it, resting

on the waters, was another hemisphere, the heaven, on the under side of

which moved the sun, moon, and stars; on the outer side was supported

another vast deep, behind which in eternal light dwelt the gods.  On the

east and west of heaven were gates through which the sun passed at morning

and night in his movement under the heavenly dome.  In a chamber just

outside the eastern gate, the gods met to determine the destinies of the

universe.  The movements of the world, the relations of nature to man, were

likewise regarded as the activities of the divine powers in making

revelations to humanity or in bringing their wills to bear on mankind.

Since to know their will and way was indispensable for happiness, the priest

studied the stars and the plants, the winds and the rocks, and interpreted

what he learned in terms of practical religion.  Medicine consisted largely

in the repetition of formulae to drive out the demons of disease, a ritual

of exorcism where the manipulations and the doses had little if any hygienic

basis.  Yet an ancient book of medical praxis and a list of medicinal herbs

show that some real progress was made in the knowledge of the body and of

actual curative agencies.


     84. The high development of mathematical science began in the same

sacred source.  The forms and relations of geometry were employed for

purposes of augury.  The heavens were mapped out, and the courses of the

heavenly bodies traced to determine the bearing of their movements upon

human destinies.  Astrology was born in Babylonia and became the mother of

Astronomy.  The world of nature in its various physical manifestations was

studied for revelations of the divine will, and the resulting skill of the

priests in the science of omens was unsurpassed in the ancient world.  Yet,

withal, they had worked out a numerical system, compounded of the decimal

and the sexagesimal series.  The basis was the "soss," 60; the "ner" was

600; the "sar," 3600.  The metrology was accurate and elaborate, and formed

the starting-point of all other systems of antiquity.  All measures of

length, area, capacity, and weight were derived from a single standard, the

hand-breadth.  The division of the circle into degrees, minutes, and seconds

on the sexagesimal basis (360 Degrees, 60 Minutes, 60 Seconds) hails from

this period and people.  The ecliptic was marked off into the twelve

regions, and the signs of the zodiac, as we know them, already designated.

The year of three hundred sixty-five and one-fourth days was known, though

the common year was reckoned according to twelve months of thirty days each,

and equated with the solar year by intercalating a month at the proper

times.  Tables of stars and their movements, of eclipses of moon and sun,

were carefully prepared.  The year began with the month Nisan (March-April);

the day with the rising of the sun; the month was divided into weeks of

seven days; the day from sunrise to sunrise into twelve double hours of

sixty minutes.  The clepsydra and the sun-dial were babylonian inventions

for measuring time.


     85. The materials from which are obtained a knowledge of the history of

early Babylonia offer, at the same time, testimony as to the artistic

development, which may be traced, therefore, through the three historic

epochs.  In the pre-Sargonic period almost all the available material is

that in stone and metal found at Shirpurla.  On a bas-relief of King Ur Nina

he stands with a basket upon his head, his shoulders and bust bare, a skirt

about his waist descending to his feet.  Before him his children,

represented as of much smaller stature, express their obeisance by the hands

clasped across the breast.  The heads and feet are in profile, while the

bodies are presented full to the spectator, thus producing a contorted

effect.  The whole, while full of simplicity and vigor, is crude and rough.

The long sharp noses, retreating foreheads, and large deep-set eyes give a

strange bird-like appearance to the faces. The so-called "vulture stele" of

Edingiranagin (sect. 76) is much more complex in its design.  It is a large

piece of white stone carved on both faces.  On the one side four scenes in

the war are represented - the battle, the victory, the funeral rites and

thank-offering, the execution of the captives.  On the other side, the booty

is heaped up before the gods, and the coat of arms of Shirpurla is held

aloft in the king's hand.  The scenes are spiritedly sketched, and artistic

unity is sought in the complicated representation.  The silver vase of

Entemena (sect. 56) is the finest piece of metal work of the time.  It rises

gracefully from a bronze pedestal, rounds out to one-half its height, and

ends in a wide vertical collar.  Its sides are adorned with eagles, goats,

lions, and other animals.  The age of Sargon is introduced by the splendid

bas-relief of Naram Sin, found on the upper Tigris.  What remains of it is

a fragment only, but it represents a royal figure, bearded, with conical

cap, a tunic thrown over the breast and left shoulder, leaving bare the

right arm, which grasps a weapon.  The work is singularly fine and strong

(Hilprecht, OBT, I. ii, pl. xxii).  The height of the plastic art of the

time is reached in the statues of Gudea of Shirpurla (sect. 60).  They are

of very hard stone, but the artist has neglected no detail.  The king is

represented in the attitude of submission before the gods, his hands clasped

upon his breast.  The head is gone from every statue, but heads of other

statues have been found which illustrate the method of treatment.  A thick

cap or turban is worn on the head, and the tunic, as in the Naram Sin

basrelief, leaves the right arm bare and descends to the feet.  Special

study is given to this drapery; the very folds are somewhat timidly

reproduced.  In mastery of his material the artist has made much progress

since the early days.  The impression given is one of severe simplicity,

directness, attention to detail, and concentrated power (Maspero, DC, pp.

611 ff.).


     86. The works just mentioned are the highest achievements of the

sculptor's and goldsmith's art.  But, in a variety of smaller objects,

similar artistic skill appears.  The alabaster vases, dedicated by the

earliest kings at Nippur, the terra-cotta vases, ornamented with rope

patterns, found in the same place, the copper and bronze statuettes and

vessels of various kinds, (the pottery is, in general, strange to say, rude

and inartistic,) and numerous other implements and objects are testimonies

to the same artistic ability.  Particularly are the seal cylinders worthy of

mention.  Reference has already been made to the use of the seal by the

Babylonians.  Hard pebbles of carnelian, jasper, chalcedony, and porphyry

were rounded into cylinders from two to three fifths of an inch in diameter

and from three-quarters of an inch to an inch and a half in length; then

upon the surface were incised scenes from mythology or figures of holy

beings, such as Gilgamesh in his contest with the lion, or the sun or moon

god receiving homage from his servant. Stamped upon the soft clay of a

document, the seal imparted, as it were, the sanction of the gods to the

agreement as well as certified to the good faith of the signer.  The work of

the engraver of these seals is remarkable.  The best of them, such as that

of the scribe of Sargon of Agade (Maspero, DC, p. 601; compare B. M. Guide,

pl. xxiii) show extraordinary fineness of workmanship, breadth of treatment,

and realistic fidelity to fact.  Indeed, of all the art of early Babylonia

it may be said that it is eminently realistic; the artist has little sense

of the ideal or the general.  To present the fact as it is, with simplicity

verging on bareness, and with a directness that is almost too abrupt, - this

was at the same time the weakness and the strength of the Babylonian

sculptor or engraver.  This trait is specially evident in his conception of

the gods.  He was the first to present them as human beings.  But his

anthropomorphism is rude and crude.  The divine beings are not greater or

grander than the men who worship them.  The conception, indeed, was original

and epoch-making.  But it was reserved for the Greeks to improve upon it by

glorifying and idealizing the human forms under which they represented their

Apollo and their Zeus.  Another peculiarity which worked to the disadvantage

of Babylonian art was the convention which demanded drapery in the

representation of the human form.  Here too is realism, for the changeable

climate doubtless required men to wear thicker clothing, and that more

constantly, than, for example, in Egypt.  Hence the study of the nude body

and the sense of beauty and grace which it develops were absent.  The long

robes give a stiffness and sameness to the figures for which the greater

skill attained in the representation of drapery hardly compensated.


     87. Although the early Babylonians had little stone or wood with which

to build, they used clay bricks with architectural originality and

effectiveness.  The palace or temple was not built upon the level of the

ground, but upon a rectangular brick platform.  At Shirpurla this was forty

feet high; at Nippur forty-five feet above the plain.  Upon it stood the

palace structure of brick, one story high, with its corners usually facing

the cardinal points.  The walls were very thick, the chambers small and

dark, the passages narrow and often vaulted.  Vertical walls and flat roofs

were the rule.  The rooms, courts, galleries, and passages stretched away

interminably, yet with a definite plan, within the rectangle.  Huge

buttresses of brick sustained the platform, and pilasters supported the

walls of the structure built upon it.  Access to the building was obtained

by a staircase rising from the plain.  To protect all from the tremendous

rains which would tend to undermine the walls, the solid mass of the

platform was threaded by terra-cotta drains which carried the water down to

the plain.  Ventilating shafts, likewise, were used to let in the air and

drain off the moisture.  The temple was sometimes, like the palace, a series

of one-story buildings, but usually culminated in what was a type of temple

construction peculiar to Babylonia, the ziggurat, a series of solid masses

of brick, placed one above the other, each successive story smaller than the

one beneath it.  A staircase or an inclined plane led from the shelf of one

story to the next; shrines were placed on the shelves or hollowed out of the

brick; the shrine of the chief deity was at the top.  At Nippur the earliest

ziggurat upon the massive temple platform, built by Ur-Gur, was a

rectangular oblong, about one hundred and seventy-five feet by one hundred,

and composed of three stages resting one upon the other (Peters, Nippur, II.

p. 124).  The massiveness and monotony of these structures were relieved by

the use of stucco to cover and protect the bricks both without and within.

Conical nails of colored terra-cotta were embedded in this stucco, or

decorative designs were painted upon it.  Enamelled bricks likewise were

employed for exterior coatings of walls.  For supports of the roofs tree

trunks were used, which were covered with metal sheathing.  Thus Babylonia

became the birthplace of the decorated wall and the slender column (Sayce,

Babylonia and Assyria, p. 9).  The earliest known keyed arch has been

unearthed at Nippur.  The doors of the palaces were hung in huge blocks of

stone hollowed out in the centre to receive the door-posts, almost the only

use of stone found in these buildings.  Remembering the material at the

disposal of these architects, one cannot but admire the originality and

utility of the designs wrought out by them.  They made up for lack of stone

by the heaping together of great masses of brick.  The elevation of the

buildings and the thickness of the walls served, at the same time, to make

the effect more imposing, to supply a surer defence against enemies, and to

afford protection from heat and storms.


     88. It has frequently been noted hitherto how the life of the ancient

Babylonian was deeply interfused with his religion.  The priests are judges,

scribes, and authors.  Writing is first employed in the service of the gods.

Both the themes and the forms of literature are inspired by religion.  Art

receives its stimulus from the same source, the royal statues standing as

votive offerings in the temples and the seal cylinders being engraved with

figures of divine beings.  Science, whether it be medicine or mathematics,

has, as its ground, the activity of the heavenly powers, or, as its end, the

enlarging of religious knowledge.  Therefore it is fitting to close this

review of early Babylonian civilization with a sketch of the religion.

Already the fact has been observed that, from the beginning, the city-states

possessed temples, each the centre of the worship of a particular god (sect.

48).  Thus at Eridu was Ea; at Ur, Sin, the moon god; at Larsam, Shamash,

the sun god; at Uruk, the goddess Ishtar; at Shirpurla, Ningirsu; at Nippur,

Enlil or Bel; at Kutha, Nergal; at Sippar, Shamash; at Agade, the goddess

Anunit; at Babylon, Marduk; and at Borsippa, Nabu.  From this list of gods

it is evident at first glance that religion was local and that the gods were

in some cases powers of nature.  Clearly a more than primitive stage of

development had been reached, since the same god was worshipped in two

different cities.  Investigation has made these facts more certain by

showing that Ningirsu, Nergal, and Marduk are, probably, forms of the sun

god; that Anunit is but another name for Ishtar; that Enlil was a storm god;

that at each of these cities a multitude of minor deities was worshipped;

and that similar local worship was carried on at less known centres of

population.  The religious inscriptions of Gudea of Shirpurla (sect. 60)

show a well-organized pantheon consisting of a variety of male and female

deities with Ningirsu in the lead.  Here appears the god Anu, "the heaven,"

who, though not prominent in local worship, stands theoretically at the head

of all the gods.  The religion of early Babylonian history, then, was a

local nature worship which was passing into a more or less formal

organization and unification of deities as a result of political development

or theological formulation.


     89. Behind this advanced stage was another and very different phase of

Babylonian religion testified to by a body of conjuration formulae and hymns

of similar tenor.  In the great mass of this literature the names of the

gods just enumerated are hardly mentioned.  The world is peopled with

spirits, Zi, good and evil beings, whose relations to man determine his

condition and destiny.  If he suffers from sickness, it is an attack of a

demon who must be driven out by a formula, or by an appeal to a stronger

spirit of good.  These powers are summed up under various names indicative

of the beginnings of organization, as, for example, "spirit of heaven" (zi

ana), "spirit of earth" (zi kia); "lord of demons" (en lil); "lord of earth"

(en ki).  As the sense of good, of beneficent, powers got the better of the

fear of harm and ruin in the minds of men, the spirit-powers passed into

gods.  Thus the "spirit of heaven" became Anu; the "lord of earth" or the

"spirit of earth" was identified with Ea of Eridu; the "lord of demons" was

found again in Bel of Nippur.  A first triad of Babylonian gods was thus

constituted in Anu, Bel, and Ea.  As religion grew in firmness of outline

and organization, the hosts of spirits retreated before the great gods, and,

while not disappearing, took a subordinate place, in private or individual

worship, and continued to exercise an important influence upon the faith and

practice of the people.  The divine beings, whether rising out of local

spirits or spirits of nature or the combination of both, took the field and

marked the transition to the new phase of religion in which the beneficent

powers were recognized as the superior beings, and received the worship and

gifts of the community.


     90. The general notion of divine beings entertained by the old

Babylonian is illustrated by the term for god, ilu, which conveys the root

idea of power, might.  It was as "strong" ones that the spirits came into

contact with man from the beginning.  It was the heavenly powers of sun and

moon and stars and storm that of all nature-forces had most impressed him.

He indicated his attitude toward them also by the favorite descriptive term

"lord" (en, bel).  They were above him, supreme powers whom he served and

obeyed in humility and dependence.  Yet mighty as were the gods, and exalted

as they were above humanity, the Babylonian was profoundly conscious of the

influences brought to bear by the divine world upon mankind.  From the

period when he felt himself surrounded by manifold spirits of the natural

world, to the time when he sought to do the will of the great heavenly

powers, he was ever the centre of the play of the forces of the other world.

They were never far from him in purpose and action.  The stars moving over

the sky spoke to him of their will and emitted divine influences; the wind,

the storm, the earthquake, the eclipse, the actions of animals, the flight

of birds, - all conveyed the divine messages to him who could interpret

them.  Hence arose the immense mass of magical texts, the pseudo-science of

astrology, and the doctrine of omens.  The religious temper produced by such

an idea of god was twofold.  On the one hand the divine influence was felt

as pure power, arbitrary, undefined, and not to be counted on; hence to be

averted at all hazards, restrained by magical means, or rendered favorable

by an elaborate ritual.  Or, the worshipper felt in the divine presence a

sense of ill-desert, and, in his desire for harmony with the divine ruler,

flung himself in confession and appeal upon the mercy of his god in those

remarkable Penitential Psalms in which fear, suffering, and a sense of guilt

are so joined together as almost to defy analysis and to forbid a final

judgment as to the essence of the ethical quality.  Those who first felt the

emotions which these psalms reveal were certainly on the road leading to the

heights of moral aspiration and renewal.  The difficulty was that the

element of physical power in the gods was ineradicable and, corresponding to

it, the use of magic to constrain the divine beings crept into all religious

activity and endeavor, thus thwarting all moral progress.  Though men

recognized that their world had been won from chaos to cosmos by the gods

under whose authority they lived, - for this was the meaning of the victory

of Marduk over Tiamat, - they conceived of the victory in terms of the

natural physical universe, not as a conquest of sin by the power of holiness

and truth.


     91. The conduct of worship was no doubt originally the task of the

priest.  He afterward became king, and carried with him into his royal

position many of the prerogatives and the restrictions attending the

priestly office.  He was the representative of the community before the

gods, and therefore girt about with sanctity which often involved strict

tabu.  But he soon divided his powers with others, priests strictly so

called, who performed the various duties connected with the priestly service

and whose names and offices have in part come down to us.  Rituals have been

preserved for various parts of the service; many hymns have survived which

were sung or recited.  Sacrifices of animals were made, libations poured

out, and incense burned.  Priests wore special dresses, ablutions were

strongly insisted upon, clean and unclean animals were carefully

distinguished, special festivals were kept in harmony with the changes of

the seasons and the movements of the heavenly bodies.  Religious

processions, in which the gods were carried about in arks, ships, or chests,

were common.  A calendar of lucky and unlucky days was made.  A Sabbath was

observed for the purpose of assuaging the wrath of the gods, that their

hearts might rest (Jastrow, in Am. Jour. of Theol., II. p. 315 f.).  Every

indication points to the existence of a powerful priesthood whose influence

was felt in all spheres of social and national life.


     92. The outlook of the Babylonians upon the life beyond was sombre.

Burial customs indicate that they believed in future existence, since drink

and food were placed with the dead in their graves.  But, in harmony with

the severer conception of God, the Babylonian thought of the future had an

uncertain and forbidding aspect.  The poem which describes the descent of

the goddess Ishtar to the abode of the dead, called Arallu, conceives of

this region as dark and dusty, where the shades flit about like birds in

spaces shut in by bars, whence there is no egress.  There is the realm of

Nergal, and of queen Allat who resents the presence of Ishtar, goddess of

life and love, and inflicts dire punishments upon her.  Yet in this prison-

house there is a fountain of life, though sealed with seven seals; and in

the Epic of Gilgamesh are heroes who have reached the home of the blessed, -

 indications that the higher religious aspiration was seeking after a

conception of the future more in harmony with the belief in great and

beneficent deities dwelling in the light and peace of the upper heaven.  It

was the darker view, however, that passed from Babylonia to the west and

reappeared in the dusky Sheol of the Hebrews, into which all, whether good

or bad, descended, there to prolong a sad and shadowy existence.


     93. In concluding this presentation of early Babylonian life it is

possible to sum up the dominant forces of history and progress under three

heads: (1) Religion is the inspiring and regulative element of the

community.  In its representatives government finds its first officials. In

the centre of each city is the temple with its ruling and protecting deity.

Political growth is indicated by the wider worship of the local god.  The

citizens and their lords are servants of the god.  He is the fount of

justice, and his priests are guardians of culture.  Industry and commerce

have their sanctions in the oaths of the gods, and the temples themselves

are centres of mercantile activity; they are the banks, the granaries, and

the seats of exchange.  All life is founded on religion and permeated by its

influence.  (2) The energizing element of these communities is the ruler.

Already the power of personality has made itself felt.  Political

organization has crystallized about the individual.  He exercises supreme

and unlimited power, as servant of the deity and representative of divine

authority.  He is the builder, the general, the judge, the high priest.  All

the affairs of his people are an object of solicitude to him.  His name is

perpetuated upon the building-stones of the temple and the palace.  His

figure is preserved in the image which stands before the god in his temple.

He is sometimes, in literal truth, the life of his people.  (3) From these

two forces united, religion and the ruler, springs the third element, the

impulse to expansion.  Neither god nor king is satisfied with local

sovereignty.  The ambition of the one is sanctified and stimulated by the

divine commendation, encouragement, and effectual aid of the other.  The god

claims universal sway.  The king, his representative, goes forth to conquer

under his command.  The people follow their human and their divine lords

whithersoever they lead.  In that period circumstances were also

particularly favorable to such forward movements.  Communication between the

different cities was made easy by the innumerable watercourses threading the

plain.  The mighty rivers offered themselves as avenues for wider expansion.

Such was Old Babylonia in its essential characteristics.  Such was the

philosophy of its early history, illustrated by the details of the struggles

which have already been described (Part I. chap. II.).  The end was a united

Babylonia, achieved by the great king Khammurabi, in whom all these forces



Times Of Khammurabi Of Babylon.  2300-2100 B.C.


     94. It is clear that the city of Babylon did not play a prominent part

in early Babylonian history (sect. 50).  It was not, like Agade, Shirpurla,

Uruk, or Ur, the centre of a flourishing and aggressive state, nor had it

any religious pre-eminence such as was enjoyed by Nippur or Eridu.  Such an

assertion is not based merely on a lack of inscriptional information which

future excavation may be trusted to supply.  Existing inscriptions of the

early time take no account of the city.  This would not be the case if its

importance had been recognized.  The religious hymns do not mention it.  Its

god Marduk takes a secondary place in the later pantheon, below Bel of

Nippur, Ea of Eridu, Sin of Ur, and Shamash of Sippar.  In the time of the

kings of Agade, Babylon is said to be a part of their dominions and Sargon

built a temple there.  The fact is significant, and suggests that the city

was overshadowed by the greater power and fame of Sargon's capital.  Only

when the political and commercial pre-eminence of the more northern state

passed away, was an opportunity given to Babylon.  By that time, however,

the southern cities had seized the leadership and had held it for a thousand

years.  Accordingly, not till the middle of the third millennium B.C. (sect.

63), did the first historical Babylonian king appear and the city push

forward into political importance.  Its progress, thereafter, was rapid and



     95. The first five kings of the first dynasty were as follows:


[See Table 1.: Five Kings]


     From none of these kings have inscriptions been recovered, but what has

been called a "Chronicle" of their doings year by year, and business

documents dated in their reigns, together with references to some of them by

later kings, give an insight into their affairs.  The Babylonian kings' list

indicates that, beginning with Zabum, son succeeded father.  Immerum appears

in the business documents, but without indication of his place in the

dynasty.  The kings' list does not name him, and he is therefore regarded as

a usurper.  No light has been shed on the events connected with the

accession of the first king to the Babylonian throne.  From the names of the

kings it has been inferred that the dynasty was of Arabian origin, and that

the new outburst of Babylonian might which now ensues is due to the infusion

of new blood in consequence of an Arabian invasion which placed its leaders

on the throne.  The hypothesis is certainly plausible.  The events of

Sumuabu's reign are largely peaceful, temple building and the offering of

crowns to the deities being the chief matters of moment.  Toward the close,

however, the city of Kacallu, presumably in the vicinity of Babylon, was

laid waste, - a suggestion that Babylon was already beginning to let its

power be felt in the north.  A later king of this dynasty, Samsu-iluna,

states that he rebuilt six great walls or castles which had been built in

the reign of Sumulailu, the second king, who also fortified Babylon and

Sippar, overthrew Kacallu again, and destroyed the city of Kish.  He, too,

was a devout worshipper of the gods.  A king of New Babylonia (Nabuna'id)

refers to a sun-temple in Sippar which dated back to Zabum, and the

"Chronicle" speaks of other temples and shrines.  The inference from these

relations with cities outside Babylon suggests that by Zabum's time Babylon

had extended its sway in north Babylonia and was ready to enter the south.

It was, accordingly, with Sinmuballit that complications arose with southern

Babylonia, then under the hegemony of Rim Sin of Larsam, an Elamite

conqueror.  The chronicle states that Isin was taken in the seventeenth year

of the Babylonian king.  If business documents which are dated by the

capture of this city are properly interpreted, it appears to have been the

centre of a conflict between the two powers, since it was apparently

captured alternately by both.  The issue of the war is unknown.


     96. While so scanty an array of facts avails for the history of these

early kings, with the sixth king, Khammurabi (about 2297-2254 B.C.) a much

clearer and wider prospect is opened.  The fact that an unusually large

amount of inscriptional material comes from his reign is an indication that

a change has taken place in the position and fortunes of his city.  The

first and most striking confirmation of the change, furnished by this

material, is its testimony to the overthrow of the Elamite power (sect. 64).

Knowledge of the causes which brought Khammurabi into collision with Rim Sin

of Larsam, as well as of the events of the struggle, is not, indeed,

furnished in the inscriptions.  Sinmuballit and Rim Sin had already met

before Isin, and the new conflict may have been merely a renewal of the war.

From the narrative contained in Genesis xiv. 1, 2, it has been inferred that

Khammurabi (Amraphel) had been a vassal of the Elamite king and rebelled

against him (sect. 65).  However that may be, the Babylonian represented the

native element in a reaction against invaders and foreign overlords which

resulted in their expulsion.  There is probably a reference to the decisive

moment of this struggle in the dating of a business document of the time "in

the year in which king Khammurabi by the might of Anu and Bel established

his possessions [or "good fortune"] and his hand overthrew the lord [or

"land," ma-da], of Iamutbal and king Rim Sin." The Elamites seem to have

retired to the east, whither the king's lieutenants, Siniddinam and

Inuhsamar, pursued them, crossing the river Tigris and annexing a portion of

the Elamite lowland (King, Letters and Inscriptions of Hammurabi, I. xxxvi.

ff.) which was thereafter made more secure by fortifications.  In the south

of Babylonia the king reduced to subjection cities which opposed his

progress, and destroyed their walls.  His dominion extended over the whole

of Babylonia and eastward across the Tigris to the mountains of Elam.  He

could proclaim himself in his inscriptions "the mighty king, king of

Babylon, king of the Four (world-) Regions, king of Shumer and Akkad, into

whose power the god Bel has given over land and people, in whose hand he has

placed the reins of government (to direct them)," thus uniting in his own

person the various titles of earlier kings.


     97. Though Khammurabi "was pre-eminently a conquering king" (Jastrow,

Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 119), he was not behind in his

arrangements for the economic welfare of his kingdom.  One of his favorite

titles is bani matim, "builder of the land," descriptive of his measures for

the recovery of the country from the devastations of the years of war and

confusion.  Of his canals, at least two are described in his inscriptions.

One he dug at Sippar, apparently connecting the Tigris and Euphrates.  In

connection with it he fortified the city and surrounded it with a moat.

Another and more important canal was commemorated in the following

inscription which illustrates his interest in the agricultural prosperity of



     "When Anu and Bel gave (me) the land of Shumer and Akkad to rule and

entrusted their sceptre to my hands, I dug out the Khammurabi-canal (named)

Nukhush-nishi, which bringeth abundance of water unto the land of Shumer and

Akkad.  Both the banks thereof I changed to fields for cultivation, and I

garnered piles of grain, and I procured unfailing water for the land of

Shumer and Akkad."


     This canal was probably a great channel, passing from Babylon in a

southeasterly direction parallel with the Euphrates, whose waters it

received and distributed by smaller canals over the neighboring districts,

while also draining the adjoining marshes.  The waste lands were replanted

by distribution of seedcorn to the husbandmen; depopulated districts were

refilled by the return of their inhabitants or the settlement of new

communities; the prosperity and permanence of the irrigating works were

secured by the building of a castle, which was doubtless at the same time a

regulating station for the supply of water, at the mouth of the canal.

Among other building operations we hear of a palace in the vicinity of

Bagdad, a great wall or fortification along the Tigris, serving as well for

protection from the floods as from the Elamite invaders.  Other

fortifications in various parts of the land are mentioned.  Yet more is

known about the temple building.  As the Babylonian temples were as useful

to business as to religion, their restoration was a contribution to material

as well as religious well-being.  The king built at Larsam a temple for

Shamash; at Kish one for Zamama (Ninib) and Ishtar, others at Zarilab and at

Khallabi, at Borsippa and Babylon.  It is not improbable that in the two

latter cities he was the founder of the famous and enduring structures in

honor of the gods, called respectively through all periods of Babylonian

history Ezida nd and Esagila.


     98. Five kings succeeded Khammurabi before this dynasty gave way to

another.  Each king seems to have been the son of his predecessor, and the

long reigns which all enjoyed illustrate the condition of the times.  Of

inscriptions directly from them only a few are known.  One from Samsuiluna

(about 2254-2216), Khammurabi's son, mentions his rebuilding the walls or

fortresses of his ancestor (sect. 95) and enlarging his capital city.  In

its proud and swelling words it reflects the consciousness of greatness and

power which Khammurabi's achievements had begotten in his successor.  "Fear

of my dreaded lordship covered the face of heaven and earth.  Wherefore the

gods inclined their beaming countenances unto me, . . . to rule in peace

forever over the four quarters of the world, to attain the desire of my

heart like a god, daily to walk with uplifted head in exultation and joy of

heart, have they granted unto me as their gift" (Keilinschriftliche

Bibliothek, III. i. 130-132).  The "Chronicle" tells of conflicts with the

Kassites, and of rebellions in the cities of Isin and Kish which were put

down by him, but by far the more numerous events there referred to relate to

the digging of canals and the service of religion.  From Abeshu, his

successor, a few letters, and inscriptional fragments only remain.  A late

copy of an inscription from Ammiditana (about 2188-2151), besides stating

that he was the eldest son of Abeshu, the son of Samsuiluna, proclaims him

"King . . . of Martu," that is, presumably, "the westland," Syria.  The last

two kings were Ammizaduga, who reigned ten years according to the

"Chronicle," but twenty-two years according to the kings' list, and

Samsuditana who reigned thirty-two years.  During the one hundred and fifty

years and more of the rule of these kings, everything speaks in testimony of

the permanence and development of the strong political structure whose

foundations had been laid by Khammurabi, and of the peace and prosperity of

the several communities united into the empire.


     99. Of the significance of this imperial organization and development

for the social and industrial life of the land there are many illustrations.

A centralized administration bound all the districts hitherto separated and

antagonistic into a solid unity.  Khammurabi "was not content merely to

capture a city and exact tribute from its inhabitants, but he straightway

organized its government, and appointed his own officers for its control"

(King, Let. and Ins. of Ham., III. xx.).  Communication was regularly kept

up between the court and the provincial cities, which were thus brought

administratively into close touch with the capital.  An immensely increased

commercial activity followed this new centralization, as is shown by the

enormous mass of business documents from this age.  Increased prosperity was

followed by rising values.  The price of land under Khammurabi was higher

than ever before.  The administration of justice was advanced through the

careful oversight of the courts by the king himself, and by the creation of

a royal court of appeal at Babylon, access to which was open to the humblest

citizen.  A calendar was established for the state and regulated by the

royal officials, whose arrangements for it were approved by the king, and

published throughout the country.  A royal post-system, the device of an

earlier age, was elaborated to make easy all this intercommunication of the

various districts.  Consequent upon it came greater security of life and

property as well as regular and better means of transit, - blessings which

were shared by all the inhabitants.  It is also true, on the other hand,

that this centralization involved the economic and political depression of

the other cities before the capital.  They gradually lost their independent

significance, as the currents of trade set steadily toward Babylon, and

became provincial towns, contributory to the wealth and power of the royal

city.  It was the statesmanship of Khammurabi that, for good or ill, laid

the foundations of this mercantile and monetary supremacy of Babylon, before

which the other communities passed quite out of sight.  Ur, Larsam, Uruk,

and Sippar are heard of no more, except as seats of local worship or of

provincial administration.


     100. The sphere of religion, likewise, was significantly influenced by

the new imperial organization.  As might be expected, Marduk, the city-god

of Babylon, now became the head of the Babylonian pantheon.  The change is

thought to have been something more than the natural result of the new

situation; it seems to have been deliberately and officially undertaken as

the potent means of unifying the state.  That this god's supremacy was not

left to chance or to time is seen by the systematic abasement of that other

god who might reasonably contest the headship with the new claimant, namely,

Bel of Nippur (sect. 88).  The religious pre-eminence of his temple, E-kur,

in that ancient city, passed away, and it is even claimed that the shrine

was sacked, the images and votive offerings destroyed, and the cult

intermitted by the authority of the kings of Babylon (Peters, Nippur, II.

pp. 257 f.).  The proud title of Bel ("lord") passed to Marduk, and with it

the power and prerogative of the older deity.  It may not, however, be

necessary to assume so violent an assumption of power by Marduk.  The

political supremacy of Babylon, the larger power and greater wealth of the

priesthood of its god, the more splendid cult, and the influence of the

superior literary activity of the priestly scholars of the capital may be

sufficient to account for the change.  However, the unifying might of a

common religious centre, symbolized in the worship of the one great god of


the court, was not to be despised, and Khammurabi was not the man to

overlook its importance.  As the provinces looked to Babylon for law and

government, so they found in Marduk the supreme embodiment of the empire.


     101. A striking corollary of this change in the divine world is found

in the transformation of the literature.  Reference has already been made to

the revival of literary activity coincident with the age of Khammurabi

(sect. 79).  Under the fostering care of the priesthood of Babylon, the

older writings were collected, edited, and arranged in the temple libraries

of the capital city.  A common literary culture was spread abroad,

corresponding to the unity in other spheres of life.  But the priests who

gathered these older writings subjected them to a series of systematic

literary modifications, whereby the role of the ancient gods, particularly

that of Bel of Nippur, was transferred to Marduk of Babylon.  The Creation

Epic is a case in point.  In the culmination of that poem - the overthrow of

Tiamat, the representative of chaos - the task of representing the

Babylonian gods in the struggle is assigned to Marduk, and the honors of

victory are awarded to him.  But it is probable that in the earlier form of

the Epic both contest and victory were the part of another deity of the

earlier pantheon.  A careful analysis of this and other religious documents

of the period has been made by Professor Jastrow, who has brilliantly

demonstrated that "the legends and traditions of the past," were "reshaped

and the cult in part remodelled so as to emphasize the supremacy of Marduk"

(Rel. of Bab. and Assyr., chaps. vii., xxi.).  In addition to this special

activity on behalf of their favorite god, the priests of the time now began

to build up those systems of cosmology and theology which successive

generations of schoolmen elaborated into the stately structures of

speculation that so mightily influenced the philosophy and religion of the

ancient world.


Kassite Conquest Of Babylonia And The Appearance Of Assyria.  2000-1500 BC


     102. With the last king of the dynasty of Khammurabi (about 2098 B.C.)

a period of darkness falls upon the history of the land between the rivers.

A new dynasty of the Babylonian kings' list begins with a certain Anmanu,

and continues with ten other kings whose names are anything but suggestive

of Babylonian origin.  The regnal years of the eleven reach the respectable

number of three hundred and sixty-eight.  The problem of their origin is

complicated with that of deciphering the word (Uru-azagga?) descriptive of

them in the kings' list.  Some think that it points to a quarter of the city

of Babylon.  Others, reading it Uru-ku, see in it the name of the ancient

city of Uruk.  The length of the reigns of the several kings is above the

average, and suggests peace and prosperity under their rule.  It is

certainly strange in that case that no memorials of them have as yet been

discovered, - a fact that lends some plausibility to the theory maintained

by Hommel that this dynasty was contemporaneous with that of Khammurabi and

never attained significance.


     103. The third dynasty, as recorded on the kings' list, consists of

thirty-six kings, who reigned five hundred seventy-six years and nine months

(about 1717-1140 B.C.).  About these kings information, while quite

extensive, is yet so fragmentary as to render exact and organized

presentation of their history exceedingly difficult.  The kings' list is

badly broken in the middle of the dynasty, so that only the first six and

the last eleven or twelve of the names are intact, leaving thirteen or

fourteen to be otherwise supplied and the order of succession to be

determined from imperfect and inconclusive data.  Only one royal inscription

of some length exists, that of a certain Agum-kakrime who does not appear on

the dynastic list.  The tablets found at Nippur by the University of

Pennsylvania's expedition have added several names to the list and thrown

new light upon the history of the dynasty.  The fragments of the so-called

"Synchronistic History" (sect. 30) cover, in part, the relations of the

Babylonian and Assyrian kings of this age, and the recently discovered royal

Egyptian archives known as the Tel-el-Amarna tablets contain letters from

and to several of them.  From these materials it is possible to obtain the

names of all but three or four of the missing thirteen or fourteen kings,

and to reach something like a general knowledge of the whole period and some

details of single reigns and epochs.  Yet it is evident that the absence of

some royal names not only makes the order of succession in the dark period

uncertain, but throws its chronology into disorder.  Nor is the material

sufficient to remove the whole age from the region of indefiniteness as to

the aims and achievements of the dynasty, or to make possible a grouping

into epochs of development which may be above criticism.  With these

considerations in mind it is possible roughly to divide the period into four

epochs: first, the beginnings of Kassite rule; second, the appearance of

Assyria as a possible rival of Kassite Babylonia; third, the culmination of

the dynasty and the struggle with Assyria; fourth, the decline and

disappearance of the Kassites.


     104. Merely a glance at the names in the dynastic list is evidence that

a majority of them are of a non-Babylonian character.  The royal

inscriptions prove beyond doubt that the dynasty as a whole was foreign, and

its domination the result of invasion by a people called Kashhus, or, to use

a more conventional name, the Kassites.  They belonged to the eastern

mountains, occupying the high valleys from the borders of Elam northward,

living partly from the scanty products of the soil and partly by plundering

travellers and making descents upon the western plain.  The few fragments of

their language which survive are not sufficient to indicate its affinity

either to the Elamite or the Median, and at present all that can be said is

that they formed a greater or lesser division of that congeries of mountain

peoples which, without unity or common name and language, surged back and

forth over the mountain wall stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Persian

gulf.  Their home seems to have been in the vicinity of those few mountain

passes which lead from the valley up to the table-land.  Hence they were

brought into closer relations with the trade and commerce which from time

immemorial had used these passes, and thereby they were early made aware of

the civilization and wealth of Babylonia.


     105. Whether driven by the impulse to conquest, begotten of a growing

knowledge of Babylonian weakness, or by the pressure of peoples behind and

about them, the Kassites appear at an early day to have figured in the

annals of the Babylonian kingdom.  In the ninth year of Samsuiluna, of the

first dynasty, they were invading the land.  This doubtless isolated

invasion was repeated in the following years until by the beginning of the

seventeenth century B.C., they seem to have gained the upper hand in

Babylonia.  Their earlier field of operations seems to have been in the

south, near the mouth of the rivers.  Here was Karduniash, the home of the

Kassites in Babylonia, a name subsequently extended over all the land.  It

is not improbable that a Kassite tribe settled here in the last days of the

second dynasty, and, assimilated to the civilization of the land, was later

reinforced by larger bands of the same people displaced from the original

home of the Kassites by pressure from behind, and that the combined forces

found it easy to overspread and gain possession of the whole country.  Such

a supposition is in harmony with the evident predilection of the Kassites

for southern Babylonia, as well as with their maintenance of authority over

the regions in which they originally had their home.  It also explains how,

very soon after they came to power, they were hardly to be distinguished

from the Semitic Babylonians over whom they ruled.  They employed the royal

titles, worshipped at the ancient shrines, served the native gods, and wrote

their inscriptions in the Babylonian language.


     106. Of the six kings whose names appear first on the dynastic list

nothing of historical importance is known.  The gap that ensues in that

list, covering thirteen or fourteen names, is filled up from sources to

which reference has already been made.  Agumkakrime (sect. 103), whose

inscription of three hundred and thirty-eight lines is the most important

Kassite document as yet discovered, probably stands near the early kings, is

perhaps the seventh in order (about 1600 B.C.).  This inscription, preserved

in an Assyrian copy, was originally deposited in the temple at Babylon, and

describes the royal achievements on behalf of the god Marduk and his divine

spouse Zarpanit.  The king first proclaims his own glory by reciting his

genealogy, his relation to the gods and his royal titles:


     I am Agumkakrime, the son of Tashshigurumash; the illustrious

descendant of god Shuqamuna; called by Anu and Bel, Ea and Marduk, Sin and

Shamash; the powerful hero of Ishtar, the warrior among the goddesses.


     I am a king of wisdom and prudence; a king who grants hearing and

pardon; the son of Tashshigurumash; the descendant of Abirumash, the crafty

warrior; the first son among the numerous family of the great Agum; an

illustrious, royal scion who holds the reins of the nation (and is) a mighty

shepherd. . . .


     I am king of the country of Kashshu and of the Akkadians; king of the

wide country of Babylon, who settles the numerous people in Ashnunak; the

King of Padan and Alman; the King of Gutium, a foolish nation; (a king) who

makes obedient to him the four regions, and has always been a favorite of

the great gods (I. 1-42).


     107. Agumkakrime found, on taking the throne, that the images of Marduk

and Zarpanit, chief deities of the city, had been removed from the temple to

the land of Khani, a region not yet definitely located, but presumably in

northern Mesopotamia, and possibly on the head-waters of the Euphrates.

This removal took place probably in connection with an invasion of peoples

from that distant region, who were subsequently driven out; and it sheds

light on the weakened and disordered condition of the land at the time of

the appearance of the Kassites.  These images were recovered by the king,

either through an embassy or by force of arms.  The inscription is

indefinite on the point, but the wealth of the king as intimated in the

latter part of the inscription would suggest that he was at least able to

compel the surrender of them.  On being recovered they were replaced in

their temple, which was renovated and splendidly furnished for their

reception.  Gold and precious stones and woods were employed in lavish

profusion for the adornment of the persons of the divine pair and the

decoration of their abode.  Their priesthoods were revived, the service re-

established, and endowments provided for the temple.


     108. In the countries enumerated by Agumkakrime as under his sway no

mention is made of a people who were soon to exercise a commanding influence

upon the history of the Kassite dynasty.  The people of Assyria, however,

although, even before that time, having a local habitation and rulers, the

names of some of whom have come down in tradition, could harldy have been

independent of a king who claimed authority over the land of the Kassites

and the Guti, Padan, and Alman, - districts which lie in the region of the

middle and upper Tigris, or on the slopes of the eastern mountains

(Delitzsch, Paradies, p. 205).  According to the report of the Synchronistic

History, about a century and a half later Assyria was capable of treating

with Babylonia on equal terms, but, even if the opening passages of that

document (some eleven lines) had been preserved, they would hardly have

indicated such relations at a much earlier date.  The sudden rise of

Assyria, therefore, is reasonably explained as connected with the greater

movement which made the Kassites supreme in Babylonia.


     109. The people who established the kingdom of Assyria exhibit, in

language and customs and even in physical characteristics, a close likeness

to the Babylonians.  They were, therefore, not only a Semitic people, but,

apparently, also of Semitic-Babylonian stock.  The most natural explanation

of this fact is that they were originally a Babylonian colony.  They seem,

however, to be of even purer Semitic blood than their Babylonian ancestors,

and some scholars have preferred to see in them an independent offshoot from

the original Semitic migration into the Mesopotamian valley (sect. 51).  If

that be so, they must have come very early under Babylonian influence which

dominated the essential elements of their civilization and its growth down

to their latest days.  The earliest centre of their organization was the

city of Assur on the west bank of the middle Tigris (lat. n. 35 degrees 30

minutes), where a line of low hills begins to run southward along the river.

Perched on the outlying northern spur of these hills, and by them sheltered

from the nomads of the steppe and protected by the broad river in front from

the raids of mountaineers of the east, the city was an outpost of Babylonian

civilization and a station on the natural road of trade with the lands of

the upper Tigris.  A fertile stretch of alluvial soil in the vicinity

supplied the necessary agricultural basis of life, while, a few miles to the

north, bitumen springs furnished, as on the Euphrates, an article of

commerce and the indispensable element of building (Layard, Nineveh and its

Remains, II. chap. xii.).  The god of the city was Ashur, "the good one,"

and from him the city received its name (Jastrow, Rel. of Bab. and Assyria,

p. 196).


     110. The early rulers of the city of Assur were patesis (sect. 75),

viceroys of Babylonian rulers.  Some of their names have come down in

tradition, as, for example, those of Ishme Dagan and his son, Shamshi Adad,

who lived according to Tiglathpileser I. about seven hundred years before

himself (that is, about 1840-1800 B.C.).  Later kings of Assyria also refer

to other rulers of the early age to whom they give the royal title, but of

whom nothing further is known.  The first mention of Assur is in a letter of

king Khammurabi of the first dynasty of Babylon, who seems to intimate that

the city was a part of the Babylonian Empire (King, Let. and Inscr. of H.,

III. p. 3).  In the darkness that covers these beginnings, the viceroys

became independent of Babylonia and extended their authority up the Tigris

to Kalkhi, Arbela, and Nineveh, cities to be in the future centres of the

Assyrian Empire.  The kingdom of Assyria took form and gathered power.


     111. The physical characteristics of this region could not but shape

the activities of those who lived within its borders.  It is the

northeastern corner of Mesopotamia.  The mountains rise in the rear; the

Tigris and Mesopotamia are in front.  The chief cities of Assyria, with the

sole exception of Assur, lie to the east of the great river and on the

narrow shelf between it and the northeastern mountain ranges.  They who live

there must needs find nature less friendly to them than to their brethren of

the south.  Agriculture does not richly reward their labors.  They learn, by

struggling with the wild beasts of the hills and the fierce men of the

mountains, the thirst for battle and the joy of victory.  And as they grow

too numerous for their borders, the prospect, barred to the east and north,

opens invitingly towards the west and southwest.  Thus the Assyrian found in

his surroundings the encouragement to devote himself to war and to the chase

rather than to the peaceful pursuits of agriculture; the preparation for

military achievement on a scale hitherto unrealized.


     112. It is not difficult to conceive how the Kassite conquest of

Babylonia profoundly influenced the development of Assyria.  The city of

Assur, protected from the inroads of the eastern invaders by its position on

the west bank of the Tigris, became, at the same time, the refuge of those

Babylonians who fled before the conquerors as they overspread the land.  The

Assyrian community was thus enabled to throw off the yoke of allegiance to

the mother country, now in possession of foreigners, and to establish itself

as an independent kingdom.  Its patesis became kings, and began to cherish

ambitions of recovering the home-land from the grasp of the enemy, and of

extending their sway over the upper Tigris and beyond.  It is not unlikely

that this latter endeavor was at least partially successful during the early

period of the Kassite rule.  It is certainly significant that Agumkakrime

does not mention Assyria among the districts under his sway and if, as has

been remarked (sect. 108), his sphere of influence seems to include it, his

successors were soon to learn that a new power must be reckoned with, in

settling the question of supremacy on the middle Tigris.


Early Conflicts Of Babylonia And Assyria.  1500-1150 B.C.


     113. The half millennium (2000-1500 B.C.), that saw the decline of Old

Babylonia, its conquest by the Kassites and the beginnings of the kingdom of

Assyria, had been also a period of transition in the rest of the ancient

oriental world.  In Egypt the quiet, isolated development of native life and

forces which had gone on unhindered for two thousand years and had produced

so remarkable a civilization, was broken into by the invasion of the Hyksos,

Semitic nomads from Arabia, who held the primacy of power for three hundred

years and introduced new elements and influences into the historical

process.  In the region lying between the Euphrates and the Nile, which in

the absence of a common name may be called Syria, where Babylonian

civilization, sustained from time to time by Babylonian armies, had taken

deep root, similar changes, though less clearly attested by definite

historical memorials, seem to have taken place.  The Hyksos movement into

Egypt could not but have been attended with disturbances in southern Syria,

reflected perhaps in the patriarchal traditions of the Hebrews.  In the

north, peoples from the mountains that rim the upper plateau began to

descend and occupy the regions to the east and west of the head-waters of

the Euphrates, thus threatening the security of the highways of trade, and,

consequently, Babylonian authority on the Mediterranean.


     114. Had the Babylonian kingdom been unhampered, it might have met and

overcome these adverse influences in its western provinces and continued its

hegemony over the peoples of Syria.  But to the inner confusion caused by

the presence of foreign rulers was added the antagonism of a young and

vigorous rival, the Assyrian kingdom on the upper Tigris.  Through the

absorption of both powers in the complications that ensued, any vigorous

movement toward the west was impossible.  It was from another and quite

unexpected quarter that the political situation was to be transformed.  In

Egypt by the beginning of the sixteenth century a desperate struggle of the

native element against the ruling Hyksos began, resulting, as the century

drew to a close, in the expulsion of the foreigners.  Under the fresh

impulses aroused by this victorious struggle the nation entered an entirely

new path of conquest.  The Pharaohs of the New Empire went forth to win



     115. The fifteenth century B.C., therefore, marks a turning-point in

the history of Western Asia.  The nations that had hitherto wrought out

largely by themselves their contributions to civilization and progress came

into direct political relation one with another in that middle zone between

the Euphrates and the Nile, which was henceforth to be the battle-ground of

their armies and the reward of their victories.  From that time forth the

politics of the kings was to be a world-politics; the balance of power was

to be a burning question; international diplomacy came into being.  The

three great powers were Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia.  Lesser kingdoms

appeared as Egypt advanced into the East, - Mitanni in northwestern

Mesopotamia, whose people used the cuneiform script to express a language

which cannot yet be understood, Alasia in north-western Syria, and the

Hittites just rounding into form in the highlands of northeastern Syria and

destined to play so brilliant a part, if at present a puzzling one, in the

history of the coming centuries.  At first, Egypt carried all before her.

Under the successive Pharaohs of the eighteenth dynasty, her armies passed

victoriously up and down along the eastern Mediterranean and even crossed

the Euphrates.  All Syria became an Egyptian province, paying tribute to the

empire of the Nile.  Egyptian civilization was dominant throughout the whole



     116. The effect of this Egyptian predominance in Syria upon the

kingdoms of the Tigro-Euphrates valley was significant.  The Egyptians

obtained the monopoly of the trade of its new provinces, and the eastern

kingdoms were cut off.  They were crowded back as Egypt pressed forward.  It

is not improbable that Assyria's northern movement (sect. 112) was by this

pressure forced to the east, and therefore the centre of Assyrian power

shifted to the other side of the Tigris over against the eastern mountains.

The image of Ishtar, goddess of Nineveh, had fallen during this time into

the hands of the king of Mitanni, who sent it to Egypt (Winckler, Tel-el-

Amarna Letters, 20).  The pent up forces of the two peoples declined and

exhausted themselves in reviving and pursuing with greater intensity and

persistence the struggle for local supremacy.  Assyria was numbered by

Thutmose III. of Egypt (1480-1427 B.C.) among his tributaries for two years,

although this may have been little more than a vainglorious boast, arising

out of the endeavor of the Assyrian king to obtain the Egyptian alliance by

means of gifts.  That Egypt was courted by both Babylonian and Assyrian

rulers is testified to by the archives of Amenhotep IV., as preserved in the

Tel-el-Amarna letters, which contain communications from kings of both

nations to the Pharaohs, intimating that these negotiations had been going

on for half a century.  The Pharaohs, having won their provinces in Syria by

force of arms, were willing to maintain possession by alliances with

bordering peoples whom they regarded as inferior, even while treating with

them on the conventional terms imposed by the diplomacy of the time.  Thus

they exchanged princesses with Mitanni, Babylon, and Assyria, and made

presents of gold, the receipt of which the kings of these lands acknowledged

by asking for more.  Their deferential attitude toward Egypt, however, goes

somewhat beyond what must have been the diplomatic courtesy of the time, and

shows how Egypt stood as arbiter and head among them.  A perfect

illustration of the situation is given in the following paragraph from a

letter of the king of Babylon to Amenhotep IV. of Egypt:


     In the the time of Kurigalzu, my father, the Canaanites as a body sent

to him as follows: "Against the frontier of the land, let us march, and

invade it.  Let us make an alliance with thee." Then my father sent them

this (reply), as follows: "Cease (trying) to form an alliance with me.  If

you cherish hostility against the king of Egypt, my brother, and bind

yourselves together (with an oath), as for me, shall I not come and plunder

you? - for he is in alliance with me." My father, for the sake of thy

father, did not heed them.  Now, (as to) the Assyrians, my own subjects, did

I not send thee (word) concerning their matters?  Why has (an embassy)

entered thy country?  If thou lovest me, let them have no good fortune.  Let

them secure no (advantage) whatever (ABL, p. 221).


While Egypt must needs be on friendly terms with the Mesopotamian states in

order to keep them from interfering in Syria, it was with each one of them

a vital matter to gain her exclusive alliance, or prevent any other of them

from securing it.


     117. In these conditions of world-politics, the complications between

the rival states in Mesopotamia, as already remarked, were increased and

intensified.  The problem of a boundary line, a frequent source of trouble

between nations, occasioned recurring difficulties.  Kara-indash for Babylon

and Ashur-bel-ni-sheshu for Assyria settled it (about 1450) by a treaty

(Synchr. Hist., col. I. 1-4).  The same procedure was followed about half a

century later by the Babylonian Burnaburyas I. (?) and the Assyrian Puzur-

ashur (Ibid., col. I. 5-7).  Of Kadashman Bel (Kallima Sin), who reigned at

Babylon in the interval, four letters to Amenhotep III. of Egypt are

preserved in the Tel-el-Amarna tablets, together with one from the Pharaoh

to him, but beyond the mention of exchanging daughters as wives they contain

no historical facts of importance.  Kurigalzu I. (about 1380 B.C.), the son

and successor of Burnaburyas (I.?), is mentioned in the same collecton of

documents as on good terms with Egypt, but no record remains of his

relations with Assyria, where Ashur-nadin-akhi ruled.  The same is true of

the latter's son, Ashur-uballit and the Babylonian Burnaburyas II.  (about

1350 B.C.), son of Kurigalzu I., who refers to his rival in the boastful

terms already quoted (sect. 116), which, however, must be interpreted as the

language of diplomacy.  His six letters to the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV. are,

otherwise, historically barren.  Ashuruballit, "the vassal," succeeded in

marrying his daughter Muballitat-sirua to the Babylonian king's son,

Karakhardash, who followed his father upon the throne (about 1325 B.C.).

The two kings also renewed the boundary treaty of their fathers (RP, 2 ser.

V. p. 107, and Winckler, Alt. Or. Forsch. I., ii. pp. 115 f.).  Here the

first stage of the rivalry may be said to close.  From a position of

insignificance the Assyrian kingdom had been raised, by a series of able

rulers, to an equality with Babylonia, and the achievement was consummated

by the union of the royal houses.


     118. The son of this union, Kadashman-kharbe, succeeded his father on

the Babylonian throne while his grandfather, Ashuruballit, still ruled in

Assyria.  To him, apparently, a Babylonian chronicle fragment ascribes the

clearing of the Euphrates road from the raids of the Bedouin Suti, and the

building of fortresses and planting of colonies in Syria (RP, 2 ser. V., and

Winckler, AOF, l. c.).  But it is not improbable that, if done by him, it

was in connection with his grandfather, who, in his letter to the Pharaoh

Amenhotep IV., expressly mentions the Suti as infesting the roads to the

west, evidently the trade routes of the upper Mesopotamian valley (Winckler,

Tel-el-Amarna Letters, pp. 30 f.).  This close relation to Assyria was not

pleasing to the Kassite nobles, who rebelled against their king, killed him,

and set a certain Suzigas, or Nazibugas, upon the throne.  But the aged

Ashuruballit hastened to avenge his grandson, marched into Babylonia, and

put the usurper to death.  In his stead he placed on the throne the son of

Kadashman-kharbe as Kurigalzu II., who, called the "young" one, was

evidently still a child.  With this agrees the probable reading of the years

of his reign as fifty-five upon the kings' list.  He must at first have

reigned under the tutelage of Ashuruballit, who, however, could not have

lived long after his great-grandson's accession.  The Assyrian throne was

taken by his son Bel-nirari, who was followed by his son Pudi-ilu.

Kurigalzu outlived both these kings, and saw Pudi-ilu's son, Adad-nirari I.,

succeed his father.  The Babylonian king seems not to have altered his

friendly attitude toward Assyria during the reigns of the first two kings.

He waged a brilliantly successful war with the Elamites, captured their king

Khurba-tila with his own hands, sacked Susa, his capital, and brought back

great spoil.  At Nippur he offered to the goddess of the shrine an agate

tablet which, after having been given to Ishtar of Uruk in honor of Dungi of

Ur more than a thousand years before, had been carried away to Elam in the

Elamite invasion of the third millennium and was now returned to its

Babylonian home.  In his last years the king came into conflict with

Adadnirari I. of Assyria.  Was it owing to the ambition of a young and

vigorous ruler who hoped to get the better of his aged rival?  Or was it the

Babylonian's growing distrust of the power of Assyria, which, under one of

the kings of his time, Belnirari, had attacked and overthrown the Kassites

in their ancestral home to the east of the Tigris?  Whatever was the

occasion, the two armies met, and the Assyrian was completely defeated (RP,

2 ser. V. pp. 109 ff., cf. IV. p. 28; Winckler, AOF, p. 122).  A

readjustment of boundaries followed.  Kurigalzu II. was an industrious

builder.  Whether the citadel of Dur Kurigalzu, which lay as a bulwark on

the northern border of the Babylonian plain, was built by him or his

predecessor, the first of the name, is uncertain.  The same confusion

attaches to most of the Kurigalzu inscriptions, though the probabilities are

in favor of ascribing the majority of them to Kurigalzu II.  The temples at

Ur and Nippur were rebuilt by him as well as that of Agade.  A statement of

the Babylonian chronicle suggests that he was the first Kassite king who

favored Babylon and its god Marduk.  He gives himself in his inscriptions,

among other titles, that of "Viceroy of the god Bel" and may well be that

Kurigalzu whom a later ruler, in claiming descent from him, proudly calls

the "incomparable king" (sharru la sanaan).


     119. The period of peace with the Kassite rulers of Babylonia had been

improved by the Assyrian kings in extending their boundaries toward the

north and east.  An inscription of Adadnirari I. (KB, I. 4 ff.) ascribes the

beginning of this forward movement to his great-grandfather, Ashuruballit,

who conquered the Subari on the upper Tigris.  Belnirari and Pudi-ilu

campaigned in the east and southeast in the well-watered region between the

river and the mountains, where dwelt the Kuti, the Suti, the Kassi, and

other peoples of the mountain moutain and the steppe, down to the borders of

Elam.  Adadnirari I. continued the advance by subduing the Lulumi in the

east, but his defeat by Kurigalzu II. cost him the southern conquests of his

predecessors, as the boundary-line established after the battle (Syn. Hist.,

col. I. 21-23) and the silence of his own inscription indicate.  However, he

strengthened Assyria's hold on the other peoples by planting cities among

them.  When Kurigalzu II. was succeeded in Babylonia by his son nazi-

maruttash, the Assyrian king tried the fortune of battle with him, and this

time apparently with greater success, although the new boundaries agreed

upon seem very little different from those in the time of Kurigalzu II.

(Syn. Hist., col. I. 24-31).


     120. Under Adadnirari's son, Shalmaneser I. (about 1300?), Assyria

began to push westward.  The decades that had passed since the

correspondence between the Amenhoteps of Egypt and the kings of Assyria and

Babylonia had witnessed a great change in the political relations of Egypt

and Syria.  A people which in the fifteenth century was just appearing in

northern Syria, the Khatti (Hittites), had pushed down and overspread the

land to the borders of Palestine.  The eighteenth Egyptian dynasty had

disappeared, and the nineteenth, which had succeeded, found the Khatti

invincible.  Ramses II., the fourth Pharaoh of that dynasty, made a treaty

of peace with them, wherein he renounced all Egyptian provinces north of

Palestine.  With the pressure thus removed from northern Mesopotamia,

Assyria was free to move in this the natural direction of her expansion.  It

was a turning-point in the world's history when this nation set its face

toward the west.  Shalmaneser followed up the Tigris, crossed its upper

waters, planted Assyrian outposts among the tribes, and marched along the

southern spurs of the mountains to the head-waters of the Euphrates.  The

chief peoples conquered by him were the Arami, by whom are to be understood

the Arameans of western Mesopotamia, and the Mucri, concerning whose

position little is known unless they are the people of that name living in

northern Syria.  In this case Shalmaneser was the first Assyrian king to

carry the Assyrian arms across the Euphrates.  The large additions to

Assyria's territory on all sides thus made probably lay at the bottom of

Shalmaneser's transfer of the seat of his administration from the ancient

city of Assur to Kalkhi (Calah), forty miles to the north, and on the

eastern side of the Tigris just above the point where the upper Zab empties

into the great river.  The strategic advantages of the site are obvious, -

the protection offered by the Zab and the Tigris, the more central location

and the greater accessibility from all parts of the now much enlarged state.

Here the king built his city, which testified to the sagacity of its founder

by remaining one of the great centres of Assyrian life down to the end of

the empire.  The title of Shar Kishshate, "king of the world," which he and

his father Adadnirari were the first Assyrian kings to claim, is a testimony

both of their greatness and of the consciousness of national enlargement

which their work produced.


     121. Of the Kassite kings who held Babylonia during these years little

is known beyond their names and regnal years (sect. 103).  An uncertain

passage on the broken Ashur-nacir-pal (?) obelisk seems to refer to a

hostile meeting between Kadashman-burias and Shalmaneser I. of Assyria

(Hommel, GBA, p. 437).  A much more important contest was that between

Shalmaneser's son, Tukulti Ninib (about 1250) and the Kassite rulers.  From

fragments of a Babylonian chronicle (RP, 2 ser. V. p. 111), it is clear that

the Assyrian king entered Babylonia, and for seven years held the throne

against all comers, defeating and overthrowing, it is probable, four

Babylonian kings who successively sought to maintain their rights against

him.  At last, owing perhaps to the dissatisfaction felt in Assyria at the

king's evident preference for governing his kingdom from Babylonia, Tukulti

Ninib was himself murdered by a conspiracy headed by his own son

Ashurnacirpal.  Here the second stage of the struggle may be said to

terminate.  It had been accompanied by a remarkable development of Assyria

which brought the state, though hardly yet of age, to a position of power

that culminated in the humiliation and temporary subjection of her rival

under Assyrian rule.  During the reign of Tukulti Ninib Assyria was the

mistress of the entire Tigro-Euphrates valley from the mountains to the

Persian gulf.


     122. During these evil years Babylonia had suffered from Elamite

inroads (RP, 2 ser. V. pp. 111 f.) as well as borne the yoke of the

Assyrian.  But the murder of Tukulti Ninib gave the opportunity for a new

and successful rebellion which placed Adad-shumucur (Adad-nadin-akhi) upon

the throne.  He ruled, according to the kings' list, for thirty years.

Under him and his successors, Mili-shikhu and Marduk-baliddin I. (about 1150

B.C.), a sudden and splendid uplift was given to Babylonia's fortunes.  If

the hints contained in the fragmentary sources are correctly understood, it

appears that, toward the close of the reign of Adadshumucur, he was attacked

by the Assyrian king Bel-kudur-ucur.  The battle resulted in a victory for

the Babylonians, but both kings were killed.  The Assyrian general, Ninib-

apal-ekur, possibly a son of the king, withdrew his forces, and, pressed

hard by Milishikhu, the son and successor of the Babylonian king, shut

himself up in the city of Assur, apparently his capital rather than Kalkhi,

where he was able to beat off the enemy.  He succeeded to the Assyrian

throne, but with the loss of Assyrian prestige and authority in the

Mesopotamian valley.  For twenty-eight years, during the reigns of

Milishikhu and his son Mardukbaliddin, Babylonia was supreme.  The latter

king assumed the title borne by Shalmaneser I. of Assyria, "King of the

World," which implied, if Winckler's understanding of the title is to be

accepted (sect. 54), authority over northern Mesopotamia between the Tigris

and Euphrates.  Be that as it may, this brilliant outburst of Kassite

Babylonia was transient.  Zamama-shum-iddin, the successor of

Mardukbaliddin, was attacked and worsted by Ashurdan of Assyria, son of

Ninib-apal-ekur.  Within three years his successor, Bel-shum-iddin, was

dethroned, and the Kassite dynasty of Babylonia came to an end after nearly

six centuries of power (about 1140 B.C.).

Back to Main menu

A project by History World International

World History Center