Babylon: the world’s largest city in 700 BC
Episode #3 of the course “Greatest Cities Throughout History”
Perhaps the most famous city in ancient Mesopotamia, Babylon was home to roughly 100,000 citizens in 700 B.C. It was located near modern-day Iraq, about 60 miles from Baghdad. The ruins of Babylon can still be seen there today. From about 2000 B.C. to 538 B.C., Babylon was the world’s center of power, wealth, and prestige. It was the seat of learning and culture as well, and they even had a code of law that predated Mosaic law.
The city featured the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which was an extensive man-made garden that was even watered by machinery. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
It also had impressive walls and structures, including the infamous Tower of Babel. The Bible references this city and the Tower of Babel in several places, but the story about the scattering of languages at the Tower of Babel is perhaps the most well-known. The Bible depicts Babylon as a sinful place, particularly because of the citizens’ tendency for overindulgence in luxurious and pleasurable activities. In fact, the citizens were so full of pride that they thought they could build a tower to the heavens. The biblical story says that God was not happy with them for trying to do this, and to keep them from finishing the tower, he assigned a different languages to the citizens so they could no longer communicate with one another. This thwarted their ability to work as a team to complete the tower. The tower was supposedly named after the confusion that resulted from God’s actions.
Babylon survived several rulers, but it was ultimately deserted as warring kings fought over control of the city and nearby lands. When the Parthian Empire took over in about 141 B.C., the city was already in ruins.
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