Interesting facts about Babylon

The city of Babylon was located in Ancient Mesopotamia. It was founded, according to researchers, no later than the III millennium BC, but at the beginning of our era it fell into decay and was destroyed. Babylon was located about 90 km from the modern capital of Iraq Baghdad. Babylon was a real metropolis of its time; during its heyday, the number of its inhabitants reached 200, 000 people. Even by modern standards, this is far from a small city.

The area occupied by the city also amazed the imagination of the inhabitants of the Ancient World. According to Herodotus, Babylon, stretching along the banks of the Euphrates, had the shape of a huge quadrangle, each side of which was 22 kilometers long. If so, then its total area was 440 square kilometers. The modern Russian city of Yekaterinburg occupies about the same territory.

The most famous Babylonian ruler was King Hammurabi of the First Babylonian Dynasty. The approximate years of his reign are 1793-1750. BC. The laws of Hammupapi are the oldest legislative code in the world. At least of those that are known now. His laws were carved on a stone pillar more than two meters high. It is assumed that there were several such pillars; they were installed in different regions of the Babylonian kingdom.

Hammurabi himself believed that the laws he established would bring "prosperity to the people forever", and those who do not comply with them, or even dare to abolish or change these laws, will be severely punished by the "father of the gods Anu."

Physicians in Babylon were highly respected, but their work was not easy. For example, a doctor who misdiagnosed a patient was chopped off his arm. Therefore, if the doctor understood that he could not defeat the disease, he preferred to refuse to carry out the treatment. In medicine, magic and ritual ceremonies were widely used.

The Sumerians wrote with wooden sticks on clay tablets. As long as the clay remained soft, it was easy to correct the mistake in the text. Only in the 19th century, the German philologist Grotefend was able to partially decipher the writing of the ancient Sumerians.

In the 4th century BC, Babylon was captured by Alexander the Great. The great general prepared for a serious battle, but, to his surprise, Babylon surrendered without a fight. The inhabitants of Babylon sent ambassadors to Alexander, who invited him to peacefully enter the city, the inhabitants of Babylon greeted Macedonian as a hero. Surprised by this reception, Alexander gave the order not to rob the city. Moreover, at the direction of Alexander, some of the previously destroyed temples were restored. Babylon was declared the capital of the Asian Macedonian state. It was in Babylon that Alexander the Great died in 323 BC.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the wonders of the Ancient World. Despite the fact that they are mentioned in the writings of several ancient authors, a number of historians express doubts about their existence. Moreover, there is a version that the gardens were created by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife named Amitis. She was born and raised in Media, accustomed to the lush vegetation that she so lacked in Babylon. So Nebuchadnezzar decided to make such an original gift to his wife. And Queen Semiramis, whose name the gardens bore, ruled two centuries earlier.

The Bible mentions that the inhabitants of Babylon tried to build a tower up to heaven, for which they were punished by God, who scattered them all over the world and speak in different languages ​​so as not to understand each other. In Mesopotamia, in fact, a number of tall structures were built, which were called ziggurats. They held religious rites, and astronomical observations were made from the top of the towers. The tallest ziggurat was 90 meters high. Many travelers mistake it for the ruins of the famous Tower of Babel.

The exact location of Babylon remained unknown for a long time. Large-scale excavations began only at the end of the 19th century by the German archaeologist and architectural historian Robert Koldewey. Koldevey made his first reconnaissance expedition here in the winter of 1897/1898. After that, he set a condition for the patrons of art - to finance excavations for at least five years, to pay for the work of a whole staff of archaeologists and excavators. The total budget of the work was estimated at a grandiose amount for that time - half a million marks. There was even a railway line to the excavation site.

The work of the expedition lasted not five years, as it was originally supposed, but as much as eighteen. It ended only in 1917, when British troops approached Baghdad. During all this time, Kolvedey only allowed himself to go on vacation to his homeland three times. After completing his work, the archaeologist was appointed director of external relations at the Berlin Museum.

The Babylonian number system was sexagesimal. At the same time, its echoes have survived to this day. For example, we still divide one minute by 60 seconds, and an hour by 60 minutes.