The city of Babylon gave its name to two important periods in Mesopotamian history. The First Dynasty of Babylon, from around 1894 until 1595 B.C.E., was founded by Sumu-abum. Eventually it encompassed the regions of Larsa, Isin, Eshnunna, and Assyria. This dynasty is also referred to as the Amorite Dynasty, because Sumu-abum was an Amorite. Hammurabi, one of the most famous Mesopotamian rulers owing to his code of laws, was the sixth Babylonian king in this dynasty, and he expanded his initial control of Kish, Sippar, and Borsippa to Uruk, Isin, and other major cities. By the end of his life, Hammurabi ruled all Mesopotamia.

The second Babylonian period is referred to as the Neo-Babylonian period, from around 625 until 539 B.C.E. The best-known king of this period (from Biblical fame) is Nebuchadnezzar II.

The Hittites destroyed Babylon sometime around 1595 B.C.E., and Babylon did not regain its former glory until Nebuchadnezzar II came to power around 605 B.C.E. Babylon’s new buildings constructed during the so-called Neo-Babylonian period remained intact through antiquity. Babylon retained importance as a trading center during the Persian Seleucid dynasty.


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The Rare Book Department is in the Parkway Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
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