The city of Babylonhad been a city-state in Mesopotamia for many years. After the fall of theAkkadian Empire, the city was taken over and settled by the Amorites. The citybegan its rise to power in 1792 BC when King Hammurabi took the throne. Hammurabiended his rule in 1750 BC. Babylon became the symbol of the whole country thatthe Greeks called Babylonia. The 1st dynasty ofBabylon rose from insignificant beginnings. In belles lettres, Sumerian stillpredominates, although there is no lack of Akkadian masterpieces, including theoldest Akkadian version of the epic of Gilgamesh. The very high prestige stillenjoyed by Sumerian should not be underestimated, and it continued to be usedfor inscriptions on buildings and the yearly dating formulas. Aside from beingthe language of practical affairs (i.e., letters and contracts), there was ahigh incidence of Akkadian in soothsaying and divinatory literature. Around 616 BC KingNabopolassar took advantage of the fall of the Assyrian Empire to bring theseat of the empire back to Babylon. It was his son Nebuchadnezzar II who ledBabylon back to its former glory. Nebuchadnezzar II ruled for 43 years. He wasa great military leader and expanded the empire to include much of the MiddleEast all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. This included the conquering of theHebrews and taking them into slavery for 70 years as told in the Bible. UnderNebuchadnezzar’s rule, the city of Babylon and its temples were restored. Italso became the cultural center of the world, just like during Hammurabi’srule.

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