The Babylonians: An Overview of an Ancient Civilization
Where and When Did the Babylonians Live?
The Babylonians lived in Mesopotamia, which is located in modern-day Iraq. They initially began as a nomadic population that constantly moved, but by 2000 BC, they had conquered the territory of the Sumerians and settled.
We find that in 1790 BC, King Hammurabi conquered all of Mesopotamia and formed one great empire with Babylon as its capital. The Babylonians faced attacks from the Hittites and the Assyrians but were ultimately defeated by the Persians in 540 BC.
Babylonian society formed into different roles and classes. The emperor became the political, religious, and military leader of the empire. While the rest of the population formed into three groups: free men, semi-free men, farmers and artisans, and slaves. The Babylonians were mostly farmers, artisans, and merchants.
The Code of Hammurabi
For a long time some officials read the laws of the empire orally.
King Hammurabi changed the laws of the empire and wrote them on stone pillars that he erected in every city.
This collection of laws, known as the Code of Hammurabi, consisted of around 300 laws written in cuneiform characters and established punishments that were not equal for all people.
The Babylonians were polytheistic, meaning they worshiped many deities. There was a close connection between the deities and the elements of nature and often had a human appearance. The most important deities were Marduk, Ishtar, and Shamash.
Scholars and Mathematicians
The Babylonians were mathematicians and skilled scientists passionate about the sky. They devoted themselves to the study of astronomy and invented astrology, which they believed could predict the future through the observation of the stars. In addition, the Babylonians invented the first calendar, which divided the day into six parts, a month of 30 days, and a year of 12 months.
The Babylonians were an important civilization in history, making many contributions to society, mathematics and astronomy. Their laws and religious beliefs provide a glimpse into the society they lived in and how they perceived the world around them.