• Category Archives Babylonian Culture
  • Babylonian King Hammurabi’s code of laws.

    Hammurabi Babilonian ruler 1792-1750
    Relief representing Babylonian king Hammurabi

     

    Babylonian King Hammurabi’s code of laws.

     

    In 1902 French explorers discovered a stone of black diorite in the city of Susa in which were record the laws promulgated by King Hammurabi, King of Babylon, 2285-2242 BC. These so-called “laws” were somewhat personal determinations that the King promulgated as regards as justice and how should be provided in his Kingdom. He made sure however that what was stipulated therein were fulfilled and even terrible curses by his orders were also written for all those who would dare to change them or do not comply with them.

    Despite these superstitious curses the laws were not preserved in their original entirety length; since in a remote past were erased approximately 34 sections of the stone. Not because they have been objected but as result of the column of black diorite fallen into the hands of a monarch who lived many years after the Hammurabi’s reign was over. He took the stone cylinder as a trophy of conquest and deliberately deleted those 34 sections from the base in the front to record therein his name when he move the column from Babylon to Susa where was later found.

     

    KING HAMMURABI

     

    The code of Hammurabi has an amazing property and that is the ability to be understood, its wisdom and understanding of human behavior; which is show clearly troughs the sections of the code destined to address the most important domestic aspects in the daily live of Babylon’s city people. It is not a surprise that many of its provisions are in force in the current legal system because they were foreseeing many of the possible situations that in general can occur in the individual’s social or private life.

     Hammurabi says that he received this laws from Samash; the Sun God. That milestone moment is represented in a relief at the top of the black cylinder stone. Those laws are written in a way that attracts the attention of who reads them, rather unusual in comparison to the way in which were traditionally written in Mesopotamia cuneiform clay tablets; since these are commonly read in linear horizontally from left to right.

     

    Samash giving to Hammurabi the code of laws.

     

    The code of Hammurabi is however written in the style of writing that was only used in sculptures and inscriptions with formal or solemn character. These laws made in a simplified style called ancient Babylon italics are written in short columns that are read from the top down; as you read the Chinese writing and they were written in the back and part of the front of the stone pillar in cuneiform writing hieroglyphs. These laws were divided into sections, each of which explains a trial that corresponds with a general law.

    Although it was not the intrinsic purpose which they were written; however reveal important information for us today in relation to agriculture, society and its habits, trade, sex, politics, military life, inheritance, adoptions, the law over the private property rights as well as other aspects of the private life of citizens. This Babylonian code was predecessor in time to the short code of the exodus.

    It is noteworthy that the criminal law section is rather brief since most of them correspond to aspects of civil law. The separation between civil and criminal law does not have a scientifically planned division demonstrating the spontaneity with which they were written. They contain principles in general about what is today considered jurisprudence, particularly; criminalization as a result to inflict harm or damage to others and the right for the affected part to be paid in retribution for the damages the other part cause.

    While in many ways according to our modern vision of law, seeking justice they will reach extreme measurements as the famous law that stipulates eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand and foot for a foot this laws accomplished to control and prevent the improper behaviors using an organize written form that establish the consequences of defiant them.

     

    black diorite colum

     

    In those consequences can be mention; death by impalement, drowning and mutilations as retribution for the offense. Many of these laws that are so harsh and extreme as we would say today; come from accounts of exemplary punishments that correspond to former times previous to the time that the laws of Hammurabi were written and which correspond to stages more primitive or uncivilized, but perfectly in accordance with the hardness that it was traditionally dealt in the Mesopotamian region. Not that they were not applied in Hammurabi’s time though in all the rigor when was needed.

     

    Although it does not appear to us that those laws contained in this Babylonian code are precisely mild, in some aspects; compared to the laws of other civilizations and cultures in different periods of mankind history and how they determined the punishment or justice applied to offenders, this Hammurabi’s laws are pretty mild indeed.

    Curiously are absent from these Babylonian laws references about the theological or ceremonial aspects. This omission seems to indicate that there was a separation of the canonical laws from the State, we can infer that unlike laws in cultures and periods with monotheist religion; who successively develop in history and penalized with death to its citizens with religious differences, at less many Babylonians preserved their life thanks to the religious aspect not be contemplated in Babylon laws.

    Hammurabi achieve in his quest from so remote time though give form to a code of law that gaze crucial aspects that are today contained as well in the modern laws of many countries. This advanced thinking that systematizes and governed by a written code to imposed justice and behavior of the citizens, reveals a high level in the development of this civilization and Hammurabi as a precursor for the establishment of these laws which he organized by intuition, personal experiences, the ones of his predecessors and his own conception about the right and wrong.

     

    Bibliography

    – Hammurabi Code and the Sinaitic Legislation W… (Paperback) by Chilperic Edwards. Watts & co. printers. London.

    – Jenkins Owen B. The Code of Hammurabi compare with American law. Library of the University of Michigan. Law school. Gaylord Bros. Makers. Syracuse. N.Y.1908. Digitized copy by Google.

     


  • Babylon Ancient Myths and Legends

    Heroe Gilgamesh with two demigods.

     

    Babylonian’s Myths and Legends

     

    About how the malicious prejudice against Babylon arise.

    Myths and legends of Babylon have been always a subject of curiosity and study, but  only recently important historical information about this Mythical civilization is been better discerned. Thanks to the discovery of a digging in which more than 3,000 clay tablets coming from this region are emerging from the sands; some hope is shedding for better understanding the real history and evolution of the Babylonian city. Further in this article is a list and brevely description of some of the more important myths and legends that Babylonian themself created or mantein in some case from assyrian legends, that help them deal with the every day live events.

    Is a mater of justice though; that some facts must been clarify firts about how this awesome civilization was unfairly proclamed by centuries as a city of sin and tiranny. They were incriminated through centuries by outsiders cultures with false perjuries, accused of have practiced heresy, supported oppression, lust and where swarmed the evil. This City drags a bad reputation that diminish the positive achievements that this civilization reached. Many of the awful legends that were created about Babylon culture are still  mudding today the memory of this people as if their were facts. Their enemies from one side and the self proclaimed  know it all chroniclers judged their conduct, myths and customs from a partialy points of view and moral patterns, their own of course.

    Resent studies are providing a more accurately portrait about the importance that myth and legends really meaned to those ancient Babylonian. The information that existed until now was mainly obtained based on references from the Bible, Greek or Persian chroniclers. There are also further Chronicles in time by Germans, and writers from other nationalities. Throughout history this information was interpreted without having a solid knowledge of the subject by many and even worse; sifted with malicious prejudice about those who had not chance to defend them self.

     

    Mesopotamian clay tablet containing list.

     

    In summary, different religious believe, territorial invasions and political struggles created those enemies to Babylon. As an example spoken in the Bible are many of them: from the curse of Babylon to others very venomous as well. In this passage is cited among others:

    • “Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the pride of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.” She never will be inhabited or lived by following generations; “no Arab will pitch their tent there, no Shepherd will rest his flocks there”. Isaiah 13:19-20 (NIV)

    Apparently the Christian thinker San Agustin De Hipona who lived approximately in the period (354-430) was one of the first instigators of this bad reputation and presents Jerusalem as the heavenly city as opposed to the demonic Babylon in his work “The city of God”. The fact of Babylon conquered the biblical city of Jerusalem; same as how also conquered other peoples; created them a resentful enemy which not overlooked the opportunity to provide bitter revenge against Babylon forever and so they did in the Bible and other works.

    A Millennium after the Protestant Martin Luther (1483-1546) was added to the list of those who contributed to shaping the infamous memory of Babylon and wrote in his work programmer “De Captivitate Babylonian”, comparing the city of Rome; as a center of the hated Catholicism with whom he call “the Babylonian whore”.

    The diabolic concept does not exist for Babylonian or any Mesopotamian culture. The Devil as demonic figure do not existed in Babylonians mythology. Their were considered though cruel, barbaric and diabolic by Christians and others religions that arise centuries latter. , that was and invention of monotheist religions who consider that everybody else who are not devote of one god (their god) are diabolic.   but we have to wonder, what make those other religions think they were better; is they kill hundreds of thousands of men and woman only because of the suspicious of been practicing witchcraft or just for not sharing the same religious belief?. Medicine, astrology, astronomy mathematics and many other sciences well know by the Babylonians at that time suffer century’s of darkness that send human knowledge back without mercy because of those ignorant religious extremes who buried all that wisdom wrapped in malevolent, sectary  and absurd religious justification calumnies.

     

    Reasons for which the Babylonian were so found of Myth, cults and legends.

     

    The Babylonians had the same needs of subsistence as other ancient peoples, they were conquered by others as the same they conquered other peoples, their protection needs ranging from defense against the enemy, the injustice against the weak people, favors from deities asking for appropriate weather conditions to develop their farms and all the other reasons why humans worship a deity or heroic figure; were present in Babylon and contributed to create and encourage those cults spreading them around the world. The Babylonian worldview, idolatry and mysterious symbols, which were incorporated in other religions in the rest of the world, gave much importance to the worship of demons and that is probably why Babylonia is considered the origin of the pagan religions.

    But the answer about the reason for which the Babylonians were so fond of this cults and dedicate great importance to the myths and legends; that other countries also adopted from them, can be found in the fact that religious rites established a link between the human and the divine, exacerbating the collective imagination that needs them for using those beliefs to get protection and justice, and to explain the occurrence of natural phenomenon and general life itself. Their gods have multiples characteristics they have good character and violent ones, for instance the violent outbreaks need to be appease with offers or even sacrifices, for them wasn’t a choice is was more an imperative and surviving need that have to be fulfill with responsibility and devotion.

     

    Mysthic figures from Sumeria and Babylon.

     

    Deities acquire meaning in the interior of each culture and the human being is in charge of create, build, play and keep the signs, symbols, myths, legends, rituals, as well as the speeches and meanings that support them. All this is done in order to rely on this communication channel which is what gives meaning to their life and justifies some of their actions; as the tyranny to maintain power, slavery; the servility to the Kings and veneration to the gods.

    Babylonians as many other ancient cultures around the word belief that the everyday word co-exist and overlaps with a spirit dimension and the anxiety created for dealing with this belief produce a constant source of fear, speculation and concern in such societies even though the primary intention in many cases is to resolve common problems such as illness, death, war, misfortune or as procurator of prosperity. Sorcery for evil purpose or to fight against these dark forces was also part of the rituals because they are not separate from the human nature or the divine spirituality they create.

    Most of the Mesopotamian legends have a Sumerian origin, so those propitiatory and idolatry needs are as old as the man itself, they just further naturally develop better shapes and characters when civilizations were conformed. But were the Babylonians poet’s however; who described this myth and legends in their own style, captured their essences and infuse them with novel meaning in their imaginative works to the climax they were adopted by others cultures to whom the Babylonian were in contact.

     

    Babylonian an Sumerian mythology

     

    Archaeologists are still finding the history of this city and much of the tablet and seals wrote in cuneiform writing form are very enigmatic and incompressible or have not been found or translate yet the complete information that can clarify all this legends. Is a long process to deal with those ancient tablets in peril of destruction once they are removed from their original site. The ignorance about the facts have now the real possibility of been explained and hopefully someday justice will be done to this incredible talented civilization.

    The Tower of BABEL it is perhaps the best example of the contradiction between the reality and the myth since in almost all its historical and artistic representations it has circular and conical form, when archaeological excavations have revealed that it was square or rectangular.

    The famous Hanging gardens of Babylon“; called like that by mistake of translation from the Greek language were involved in a legend as well and recently archeological discovers pointed that probably they were not even in Babylon.

     

    Stone relief representing the King Sennacherib palace and garden.

     

    The new studies reveals that this gardens where probably part of the complex engineering watering system that provide this precious resource to the ancient city of Nineveh (currently name Mosel); that is not close to Babylon. The gardens are located next to the palace of the Assyrian king Sennacherib.  He was a powerful king responsible for the construction of many fabulous architecture structure many year before the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar  was born. Dr. Stephanie Dalley of Oxford University’s Oriental Institute and author of “The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon” traveled to one of the most dangerous places on earth to prove not only that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon did exist, but also to identify where they most likely were located, describe what they looked like and explain how they were constructed in this episode of the PBS series Secrets of the dead. The lost Gardens of  Babylon.

    I recommend to every one to follow the link to see this episode which is going to provide interesting actual facts about this studies.

     

    artistic representation over Babylon mythical buildings
    Artistic  representation of the Babylon Gardens and the Tower of Babel.

     

    Probably one of the more known passages from Babylonian mythology is the one that narrate the history of the creation, which appears as well in many other religious accounts including the Bible itself. Even when Babylonian myths and legends were so hate by most of the other religious for centuries, were precisely their stories that provide most of the source for many of those other religions; pagans or not.

     

    Some of the myths that Babylonian created to deal with their reality that are known so far:

     

    TIAMAT – Is a folklore figure  (ASIRIO-BABILONICO) is a dragon that symbolized the ocean water in Babylonian mythology, the origin of life together with Apsu, which symbolized the fresh water. By artistic representations and narratives of the period is known to have aspect of serpent or dragon, with two or four limbs, wings, and a head with horns.
    This myth is collected in a poem called “Enuma Elish”, (2,000 BC) that tells how from her, representing the primordial chaos, were created the heaven and the Earth, and later, together with Apsu, the first gods. But legend tells us that these gods altering the order and worried his mother, Tiamat. Then Apsu decided to kill their offspring, but when they learned of his plans, began a bloody fight. Tiamat created an army of eleven sharp-toothed monsters to annihilate them.

    Mushussu: Another dragon, contained three-headed demon created by Tiamat fought against these gods, who were led by Marduk.

    Marduk: the God of storms is directly associated with the creation myth. He is usually linked with the origin of agriculture, the growth of vegetation and water fertilizer action. He sent a thunderbolt to Tiamat, and when she opened the mouth, helped by a hurricane he created that forced her to keep the mouth open and inflated her stomach stabbed her with an arrow in the heart. Marduk then created the sky with one half of Tiamat body and the Earth with the other and of her tears was created the Tigris and also the Euphrates.

    Ishtar: She was originally a goddess mother, eventually eclipsed all the other female deities of Babylon. She was also referred as the daughter of Anu, the sky or the goddess of the Moon, and the sin.

    The goddess Ishtar visited Hades to find the lover of her youth. According to the passage; she crossed through the seven gates of Hades and was stripped of  her clothes gradually until was naked completely before the Queen eye’s who decides to punish Ishtar for her arrogance; populating it with illness throughout her body. She was rescued by the man – lion Nadushu-namir.

    Nimrud: Was a skilled hero in killing wild beasts. After having obtained prestige among the people, devised a system that allowed greater protection and safety instead constantly fight with wild beasts, organized people in cities surrounded by walls for shelter. Once the cities were built, they would form a united kingdom and therefore required  a King, he took position as king with the approval of their peers.

    Sammur-amat or “gift from the sea”; with the later Hellenized name of Semiramis, was the beautiful wife of Nimrud. Later in Semiramis life, as well as throughout history her present overwhelmingly opaque her husband figure influence.

    The legend tells how she was possessed and the evil being within her made she commits sin. The Queen gave birth to an illegitimate son, and the King threatened to her dethronement and the exposure of its true origin. Semiramis elaborate a plot to overthrow Nimrud. At the ceremony of “New year” when she stated a RAM who was slaughtered and eaten raw traditionally while still alive, with the exception that when it came that time, instead of the RAM was the King who was made pieces. The son of Semiramis “Damu” in Babylonian “Dammuzi” was installed as King.

    King Hammurabi:   Powerful figure in Babylonia’s history. He created the first written laws and to warrant they remain immutable by his successors; so they could not introduced any modification to his code or abolish this legislation, he write and cast curses upon their heads if any change was intended. For those who do not obey him, also stipulate that disobedience to its laws will brings serious consequences as the devastation of the country, reducing to rubble of cities, the sinking of the villages, disturbances and uprisings, physical suffering, incurable diseases and premature death.

    – The story of King Nebuchadnezzar: About the year 560 BC was told in the biblical text of the Hebrews, which says that God punished this King making it like a beast, eating grass and living as a beef animal.

    Nergal: known as the God of plague and Babylonian mythology was originally the God of death or war. It was a frightening monster, who took advantage of every opportunity to destroy their victims. The Babylonians to defend against their attacks carried out sacrifices and incantations. This mythological explanation suggests the use of sorcery, although this practice was punished it with the death penalty.

    Tammuz: Son of the Solar God, symbolized with the golden calf, and as it was considered that Nimrud was the Solar God or Baal, the fire was considered as his representative on Earth. For this reason, ritualistic were lit chandeliers and fires in his honor.

    Gilgamesh Through this famous epic an adventurer with supernatural strength seek to free the land from the evil inflicted on by the monster Huwawa. The popular story of this hero make the imagination of people mistakes him for a God. This is the first narrative to record the combat between good and evil. This story originated in Sumerian myth had much popularity in Babylon and Assyria and has been frequently represented in the art of Mesopotamia.

    Etana mounted on the back of the Babylonian Eagle. In a fragmentary Tablet preserved in the library of Ashur Banipal; the Assyrian monarch is narrated the legend of Etana who gained the help of the Eagle to go in search of the plant of birth assistance. His wife was about to become a mother and was therefore in need of magical aid.

    Babylonian calendar: Mythology also framework guidelines of the Babylonian calendar. Every day and every month it had the protection of some divinity, reaffirming the relationship with the seasons and with certain aspects of everyday life. The Babylonian week was made up of seven days and its origin lies in the fact of associating a day with each of the deities identified with the seven moving heavenly bodies. The seventh day of the week (Shabbat) was established as a day of rest, in very remote times. The principle of this kind of seven-day weekly calendar was welcomed by other peoples and religions also, arriving to our days.

    The epic of Ammisaduqa: He was the hero of the Babylonian flood story; tells how the gods, after several attempts to destroy humanity, which had been making too much noise for their discomfort, finally arranged for with a huge flood drown the world; the God of wisdom, Enki, secretly warned his devotee Atrahasis what was going to happen, allowing him to prepare a boat, in which he, his family and their animals were saved. This story is similar to the story of Noel epic flood in the bible.

     

    clay tablet  with cuneiform writing conteining the legend of Atrahasia. British Museum colletions.
    Clay tablet with cuneiform writing conteining the legend of Atrahasia. British Museum colletions

     

     

    Bibliography:

    –           Montero Fenollos Juan Luis. Brief  History of Babylon.

    –           Ligia Carvajal. Babylon: myth and reality. Society culture and political organization. Not.23/annual/2010/ISSN 1659-3316.

    –           Lurker, Manfred (1998). The message of symbols, myths, cultures and religions. Barcelona, Spain. Editorial Herder.

    –           Donald A. Mackenzie. Myths of Babylonia and Assyria. September 5, 2005 [EBook #16653.] Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1.

    –            Dr. Stephanie Dalley of Oxford University’s Oriental Institute and author of “The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon”in the PBS episode of Secret of the dead.

    The lost Gardens of Babylon.

     

    –           Susan Greenwood. The Encyclopedia of Magic and Witchcraft. USA. 2001. BY Lorenz Books Editorial.

     


  • Babylonian Culture

     

    Snake Dragon symbol of Babylonian god .

     

     

    Babylonia 

    The Babylonian Empire was one of the great empires that dominated the region of Mesopotamia. Many aspects that were unknown about this people were finally recent exposed, thanks to the work of archaeologists and specialists who managed to decipher the information contained in baked clay tablets and other inscriptions. In the tablets they had not only written about their own history and art, they refer as well about important aspect in the life of the entire region of Mesopotamia and the cultures with whom they had a broad contact. Babylonians write about almost anything; which is very fortunate for us today, otherwise the memories and important knowledges of that ancient civilization would have been forgotten.

     

     

    Rise and location of Babylon city the one who become a prosper Empire. 

     

    Babylon was located in what is now the Iraqi region. To this land under the control of Sumerian arrived Semitic tribes like the Acadians and the Amorites, from groups of a country called Martu. This event indicates the decline and fall of the III dynasty of the Empire of Ur and the birth of the Babylonian Empire, which would develop, intermittently until 539 BC. The Amorites were able to impose their dynasties in Mesopotamian cities and the most important of then became Babylon, (Bávilou, means “gate of God”).

    The city, occupied by the Amorites King Sumuabum (1894-1881 BC), founder of the new dynasty, became a great political, religious, economic and cultural center. His four successors, created the most important Amorite Kingdom in the region that would reach its maximum splendor with the figure of Hammurabi, most important King of the first dynasty of Babylon, which spanned the years 1792-1750 BC. He cemented and forged the bases of the Babylonian Empire.

    During his reign he established as official the Acadian language, and as religion worship the cult to the God Marduk. Hammurabi turned the city into a major religious center. With its mandate, the city of “Babirum”, Babylon, (the Babel cited in the Bible) acquired great power, becoming the capital of a new empire whose domain and influence would cover the entire region of Mesopotamia.

     

     

    Hammurabi Babilonian ruler 1792-1750

     

    The King Hammurabi order the construction of several temples, some of then of larger proportions destined to honor the principal gods and others of lesser size and importance for the minor gods. He promulgated a code of 282 laws, which he claimed received from the God of the Sun, Samash (God governing justice), along with the scepter and ring, symbols of Samash. These so-called laws were rather provisions of the will of Hammurabi, and among these is the famous law of retaliation “eye for an eye”. He order to write in seals and baked tablets horrendous curses for those who dare not to accomplish his ordenances or laws.

    These laws known as (the code of Hammurabi) were wrote in a column of stone and influenced the civilizations of the Near East even after the death of Hammurabi and even until after the Hittites end this first civilization of Babylon in 1595 BC. These laws were later adapted over time to the biblical texts.

     

    Importance of the Babylonian mud tablets and seals to understand this ancient civilization.

    During the first Empire increased the production of cylinders to seal the documents using cooked mud clay tablets were the records and accountability was kept. Numerous texts produced in this method of cuneiform writing have been rescued from Babylonian culture which have provided invaluable information that could document aspects of its history, traditions and culture. Many of these texts were stoled by Assyrians hands during the conquest of Babylon; they even brag about the quantity of cuneiform texts they possessed that had managed to snatch from the Babylonians.

     

     

     

    About the content in the Babylonian clay tablets

     

    In the cities of Mari and Ebla were rescued s 1700 or more clay tablets conteining trade data and customs of the region like traditions and festivities. Thanks to these tablets is has been know that the product exported mostly were tissues and that large amounts of gold and silver that came from the tributes under their rule cities were available for use both in the maintenance of the cities and of the army and military campaigns.

    Spoken in those tablets is the story of persecutions which were organized to retrieve the escaped slaves, as well as the taxes that had to be paid for transporting the goods by the Euphrates River. Important are the tablets that narrate about their kings, political issues, heroes, wars and divine beings. The economic activity of this people, the tools they used, agricultural techniques and general knowledge about ciclos and seasons more convinient for the agriculture and other activities were also expressed.

    They accomplished impressive results in medicine in the way to control the increase and spread of diseases. The treatments for them were based on the resources that nature offers.  But; although they were not available to know how to practices surgery the list of substances with pharmacology use they have was quite impressive, as well as the treatment to use them and all this information was writing in the cuneiforme scriptures they lef behin in the tablets many of wich had not been yet decipher or recovered. 

     

     

     

    The preferred theme in relief is that of the legend of Gilgamesh, a hero of an old Mesopotamian epic, depicting him in fight with buffaloes and Lions. This popular topic in Mesopotamia was addresed widely in Babylon, as was previously used in Sumer, place in which this legend originaly rised. It was also narrated in Assyrian mytology as well.

     

     

    Culmination of the first Babylonian Empire and rise of the neo-Baylonian period.

     

    With the death of King Hammurabi, his successors had to face the pressure from the Kassites tribes; that conquered the area from the South around 1600 BC, he also fought the revolt of all the South of Sumer, and finally, the attack of the Hittites that were sent by Murshil I.

    The first Babylonian Empire after all these events decays and the elimination of the amorrita dynasty occurs as a consequence giving culmination to this first Empire.  A period of warring succeeded where struggles for power and territorial control mainly continuous for many years were struggles and intrigues between Assyrians and Babylonians essentially dominate the events.  

    Babylon is occupied by the Assyrians for a relatively long period and conflict and instability continued also later when the Chaldeans came to conquer the cities of Babylon, emerging then what is known as Chaldean or neo-Babylonian dynasty, this is considered the latter splendor of the Babylon culture.

    In this neo Babylonian period are produced great variety and splendor in artistic representations which would have its continuity until the fall of the Empire. During this long period beginning in the year 2000 B C are observed some artistic progress of great importance for the history of art.

     

     Architecture

     Among of this artistic progress it can be identified the improvement of use given in architecture to the arch and the dome during the Babylonian Empire; they were already used previously but was perfected during the Neo Babylonian Empire. This is the time of the construction of the fabulous palaces of Nebuchadnezzar.

     

    Features of art in Babylonian culture are closely related to building materials available in their environment. The stone was scarce of course but the mud, abundant. Barely existed corpulent trees to build the beams needed to use them effectively in the construction of architectural structure. Following these limitations, the buildings are essentially cemented with very similar stone brick and adobe as the Sumerians did. The arch and the dome roof are used mainly in the construction of large palaces.

     

     

     

    Lion represented in glazed ceramic bricks

     

    The adobe was used for terraces and thick external walls. The walls were made of adobe or molded bricks (whose rear mounting made it possible to build huge walls. Large ceramic reliefs made in terracotta and stone pieces containing in some case inscriptions were used, receiving the name of kuduroes this were stone blocks, generally in black diorite, which were intended to delimit farms.

    The inscriptions made in this stones to describe the boundaries of the property are intend also to throw terrifying spells for those who try to change or alter their limited boundaries. The images of the gods or animals representing them are carved in the relief so that they are more imposing to the offenders who try to invade the property.

    In Babylonian architecture is observed essentially simplicity in the design of the structures due to difficult terrain and poor materials.

     

    The Hanging Garden of Babylon

     

    There is a know legend about the splendor of a high building know as the “Hanging Garden of Babylon” and it appear to have been more a building with terraces in which many plants were cultivated.  Those gardens did not really hang in the sense of being suspended from ropes or anything like that.  Appear to be a misunderstandings from translation that set the legend as have been told trough times. Since not proper reliable documentation are at hands; have not been yet clarify the facts about this mythical building with a garden and even is really existed at all.

    Recent theories by and Oxford University especialist who had studied different source of bibliographies inclusively recently ancient baked tablets found and escrutining diverse historic and geographic facts are appointing that, those mytical Babylonian Gardens were not probably even in Babylon are all, because this location have a very flat configuration, been almost imposible to irrigate enough and constantly the big trees and plants.  They are analizing other possible places more close to natural water resourses that are outside the limits of the Babylon city. 

    Follow the link for more information about this recents studies. Babylonian Gardens in Ninive.

    There is nevertheless an interesting description from the Greek geographer Strabon. He described the gardens around the first century BC and wrote:

    “It consists of vaulted terraces raised one above another, and resting upon cube-shaped pillars. These are hollow and filled with earth to allow trees of the largest size to be planted. The pillars, the vaults, and terraces are constructed of baked brick and asphalt.”

     

     

    Babylonian Sculpture

     

    Artist represented the stories of some legends in magnificent relief. They also did geometric figures with designs that paralleled a bit in some cases the ones inherited from Sumer and others novels designs that were adapted to the physical space that was decorated with exotic plants, fantastic creature, animals, battles scenes and others mundane thematic. 

    Narrative and sequential designs in buildings whose fragments are preserved have provided important data about the history, traditions and conception of life of the Babylonians, but also about the region of Mesopotamia in general. They use the Alabaster (a soft stone that abounded in the upper part of the River Tigris); with this stone they carve large plaques with decorating reliefs in some notable buildings. Those cuneiform writing sketch were part in many cases of the decoration contributing to the narrative of the scene. Especially in the large horizontal surfaces of the walls of the palaces they placed plaques telling chronicles of battles, victories and hunting scenes as well as often the theme of the tree of life which also appears on cylinder seals.

     

     

    The subject of the reliefs was almost always profane. The scenes showing the pleasant life in the Palace were in interior walls while at the external abounded most of the theme of hunting, war encounters heroic stories that praised the figure of the King and epic legends.

    Round sculptures had in some cases gigantic proportions and were mainly placed on the doors of the palaces, as guardians or protectors. Some figures are representing the human figure with animal’s part, winged Sphinxes and Lions. This sculptures were very similar to the one represented in Assyria and Sumer.

     

    Painting

    As well as in sculpture relief in painting manifestations the idea of perspective is still quite primitive and figures do not show the balance of the proportions between objects and the figures illustrated. This aspect applies both to the human and the animal figure. In general the artist enlarged characters they are interested in and so that the figure of the King is represented largest, followed in size progressive by important figures representing the power after the King and ending with the subjects of smaller status or rank..

     

    Procession to the sacrifice of a bull to the gods.

     

    Important remnants of decoration in painting found at the Palace of Mari, which they decorated the Hall of audiences, the Royal courtyard and other rooms of the residence,  show fragments that can distinguish four types of scenes.

    Five of the most frequent scenes shows in Babylonian painting are:

    1. Mythological character.

    2. Belligerents.

    3. Episodes of offerings.

    4. Sacrifices.

    5. Presentation or investitures.

    The head of the characters is showed turned to the side even though the person was from the front (frontality). The inexpressive faces were like those of other regions of Mesopotamia and Sumerian culture. These figures are also presented in many cases large sketched eyes. Beards, curly and long hair, the embroidery of the robes and dresses strips show attention to detail making a fairly accurate representation of what was represented to contributing to a more effective communication of the message that surprises for its similarity to reality. The bricks used in the construction of buildings were cover with ceramic colors (fired clay glazing) or with white stucco which were paintings al fresco with the porpoise of decoration.

     

    Babylonian Religious Belief

    They built great monuments to adore their  many gods as it is the case of the temples whose buildings in the form of terraced towers surpassed a total height of 100 meters. The temples also possessed decorations in relief telling important aspects relating to the cult and the deity to which is dedicated a tribute primally on the walls of the main halls. They need as other ancient civilization the urgency of been protected from the climact change and natural disasters, they claim to the gods for good outcome in battles and the religion serve a purpose as well as justification for the slavery and the respects and servility toward the figure of the king.

    More information is provided about the Babylonian’s religious belief and also their Myth and legends in the article posted by petition of one of the visitor who wanted to know more about this thematic.

     

     

    Most important gods represented in these Babylonian temple:

     

    • ANU: during the more ancient times was the main God. He is the God of the sky.
    • Enlil: he is the son of Anu. Carrying the tablet of the destinations that controlled the future of all beings as was Babylonian believe. He ended up replacing his father as King of the gods.
    • EA (or Enki): is the God of magical knowledge, which controlled the fresh water for agriculture in Mesopotamia. He was also responsible for teach humanity occupations.
    • Marduk: son of Ea. He was the Chief God of Babylon. He became King of the gods for the Babylonian Empire, also in other regions and cultures of Mesopotamia.
    • Ishtar: she is the goddess of love. With various names, she was known throughout Western Asia, becoming the most popular goddess of the Mesopotamian pantheon.
    • NABU: God of wisdom and patron of scribes.

     

     

    Unfortunately as a result of conquest and destruction of the cities and also the deterioration with time and erosion by environmental conditions, many of the works of art of this Babylonian culture were destroyed, but those which have been saved outlined us an important image of the general characteristics of their culture in these ancient cities.

     Please visit the two other articles about Babylonian culture to have a more complete picture of the importance of this ancient civilization whos knowledges is so important for us today to understand many aspects of the human life history.