Ancient Babylonia's Legacy

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Babylonia - one of the most widely renowned ancient civilisations to have ever existed. Known for its impressive walls and buildings and its reputation as a great seat of learning and culture the unique lifestyle and cultural beliefs of the Babylonians still interest historians and compel the world to this day, with their vast legacy still standing over 3000 years onwards. In the 2nd millennium BC, Mesopotamia (an ancient cultural region where Babylonia once stood) was known as the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’. Framed by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and the fertile land surrounding, Mesopotamia was a key area for change and development in the ancient Middle East. It included many historically important city states, including Assyria to the north, Elam to the south-east and Babylonia towards the centre. Today, most of Mesopotamia lies in Iraq but parts can also be located in Kuwait, Syria, Turkey and Iran, with Babylonia’s capital city Babylon (whose name translates to Gate of the Gods) lying 94 kilometres southwest of Baghdad. Babylonia, and particularly Babylon, soon rose quickly in power and status thanks to the early reign of a ruler known as Hammurabi. The sixth king of the first dynasty of Babylon forged coalitions between the separate city-states of Mesopotamia, and promoted science and scholarship. Hammurabi made Babylonia into an empire and the society was thriving - he also created the earliest written set of laws called The Code of Hammurabi. It has 280 judgments detailing Babylonia’s rather severe law system (compared to other Mesopotamian city-states of the time period, anyway) - for example, capital punishment was given for crimes such as theft. Hammurabi’s rule was in the time period now referred to as ‘Old Babylonia’. At this point in time, the Babylonian common people’s lifestyle had become rich, full and usually peaceful. They developed

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