Babylon - World History

Babylon - World History
Posted on 27-12-2022

Babylon. 1800 ) Babylon dominates Mesopotamia. Egypt falls into the hands of foreigners.

At the beginning of the 18th century , northern Mesopotamia began to suffer attacks from the Hurrians, a town that had a new weapon of war: the horse. This animal was completely unknown in the civilized world, but the Indo-Europeans had used it for food for a long time. Now the Hurrians (although they were not Indo-Europeans) had solved the technical problems that prevented it from being used as a draft animal. They designed new harnesses, as well as new two-wheeled carts, lighter and more maneuverable, consisting of just a platform for the charioteer. Even the wheels were perfected, as the new ones were annular with spokes instead of solid. With the cars, the nomadic raids multiplied their efficiency. They could move much faster than an army of infantry, which at most had heavy carts pulled by donkeys to transport the heavy load. They could choose the most unprotected places, attack and flee with the loot before the defenses arrived. However, at first these towns lacked the organization and breadth of vision necessary to be anything more than a painful scourge. For the time being, the Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad I continued to strengthen his empire and served as a screen against Hurrian attacks, but the arrival of a serious invasion was only a matter of time. At first these towns lacked the organization and breadth of vision necessary to be anything more than a painful scourge. For the time being, the Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad I continued to strengthen his empire and served as a screen against Hurrian attacks, but the arrival of a serious invasion was only a matter of time. At first these towns lacked the organization and breadth of vision necessary to be anything more than a painful scourge. For the time being, the Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad I continued to strengthen his empire and served as a screen against Hurrian attacks, but the arrival of a serious invasion was only a matter of time.

In 1794 Rim-Sin, the king of Larsa, finally defeated Isin and united southern Mesopotamia under his rule. Two years later, in 1792 , the sixth king of his I dynasty (established with the Amorean invasion) ascended to the throne of Babylon. His name was Hammurabi. His situation was delicate, since his small city was between two great powers: Assyria to the north and Larsa to the south. However, Hammurabi was young and the kings Shamshi-Adad I and Rim-Sin were older. Hammurabi submitted to Shamshi-Adad I and, under his protection, seized the cities of Ur and Isin from Larsa.

In 1790 the King of Egypt Amenemhat III died. The causes are not well known, but the Middle Kingdom fell apart and the country was thrown into turmoil. Egyptians record two dynasties that must have ruled simultaneously: the 13th Dynasty ruled Upper Egypt from Thebes, and the 14th Dynasty ruled Lower Egypt from Xois, in the center of the Nile Delta.

In 1782 Shamshi-Adad I died, and under his successor Assyrian power declined. Hammurabi took the opportunity to concentrate his forces against Larsa. In 1762 , after a year of war, he crushed Rim-Sin and seized control of what had been Sumer. He then headed north. In 1758 he sacked Mari, in 1755 he seized Eshnunna and, after a few years of resistance, around 1754 Assur became a tributary of Babylon. His king retained the throne, so the dynasty founded by Shamshi-Adad I was not interrupted.

In 1750 the Cretan culture began a period of apogee. Large palaces were built, complex constructions with rooms for religious use, ceremonies and banquets. There were warehouses with reserves of wine, oil, grain, wool, metals, etc. Around the palaces were the workshops of metallurgical craftsmen, engravers and potters. Magnificent pieces of ceramics and goldsmithing are preserved. Crete's influence over the Aegean islands and southern Greece must have strengthened at this time. It was probably this period that gave rise to the Greek legend about a powerful Cretan king named Minos,to which the Athenians had to pay a human tribute annually to feed the Minotaur, a monster, son of Minos, with the head of a bull. Certainly in Crete rituals with bulls were celebrated.

Meanwhile a group of Indo-European peoples calling themselves Aryans (nobles) began to descend on India. The invasion appears to have occurred slowly over several centuries, but it is possible that there was a particularly violent first wave, as the Indus civilization, already over half a millennium old, suddenly died out. It has been verified that one of its main centers, the city of Mohenjo-Daro, was the victim of a bloody massacre. The language of the Aryans was Sanskrit. They were herdsmen of cattle herds. They had tamed the horse and knew how to use the plow. They had many gods, but the main one was Idra,that ordered the holy war to kill the dasa (the aborigines of India), who had to move south. Cities were destroyed and replaced by small pastoral towns.

Even further east, in China, after the long period of the Xia dynasty, the first dynasty of which there is authentic historical knowledge was established: the Chang dynasty. Its capital was in the city of Erlitou and it dominated a good part of the Yellow River valley. The political organization was rudimentary and was not exempt from tensions and fights with the neighbors. During the reign of the Chang, the specific features of ancient China were established: writing, transportation by means of chariots, bronze casting, and a political organization structured around the king and the capital.

Returning to Babylon, Hammurabi died in 1750, king of a territory as vast as the one ruled by the Akkadian Naram-Sin six centuries earlier. The rise of Babylon had many consequences across the board. Since its founding, Babylon's chief god had been Marduk, wholly unknown outside his immediate entourage. When the Amorites took the city, they also adopted their god and placed him at the head of their pantheon. The second most important god was Nabu, who was the main god of a city located a little further south, called Borsippa.Hammurabi's victories were reflected in a similar rise of Marduk in the Mesopotamian sky. At the end of his reign the epic of creation was no longer the same as the Sumerians had imagined. Now the god Anu could no longer defeat the dark Tiamat, but fell back while Marduk (who, incidentally, turned out to be the son of Ea) fearlessly confronted the goddess of chaos and slew her. Thus, Mesopotamia learned that in reality Marduk was the heroic god who created the Universe and, therefore, its legitimate ruler. Nabu ended up being the son of Marduk, with the notoriety that this entailed. However, this was not the case in Assur, whose inhabitants clung to the cult of the god Assur, which gave the city its name.

Like many previous kings, Hammurabi wrote down the laws of his kingdom. The so -called Hammurabi codeit is the oldest system of laws that we know of in its entirety. It was inscribed on a diorite stela almost three meters high. At the top is an image of Hammurabi kneeling before Shamash, the god of the Sun, who apparently dictated the code to him. In a fine cuneiform script, the stele contains the nearly three hundred laws that made up the code, undoubtedly based on previous legislation. The stele was located in the temple of Shamash in the city of Sippar, north of Babylon. It could be consulted by anyone (who knew how to read), which in a way guaranteed the objectivity of justice.

The law divided men into three categories: nobles, peasants, and slaves. Class differences are carefully stipulated: the penalty for harming a nobleman was greater than that of a peasant, and this in turn was greater than the penalty for harming a slave. On the other hand, a nobleman should suffer a greater punishment than a peasant for the same crime. Slaves were branded on the forehead, and it was forbidden to hide the brand. There were methods by which slaves could buy their freedom, as well as laws that protected them from abusive treatment. Hammurabi's code has a pronounced commercial character: it considers contracts as sacred commitments, gives laws on the possession, sale and transfer of goods, regulates trade, profits and rents, prohibits weight cheating, shoddy items and fraud in general. It also regulates marriage, divorce and adoption. The husband could divorce at will, but he had to return the dowry to the wife. Women and children enjoyed legal protection. Even crimes of passion were legislated. Men were responsible for the dikes and canals. If a flood occurred due to negligence, the culprit had to pay heavy fines. As for the penalties, the most frequent was mutilation: if a man hit his father, his hand would be cut off, if a carpenter built a house, it collapsed and the tenant died, the carpenter had to die, but there were mitigating factors. accidentally. The medical profession, its ethics and its fees were regulated. An inexperienced surgeon could lose his hand.

In view of this code, we can affirm that the morality of the Babylonians (and probably that of the Mesopotamians in general) was very similar to modern morality, with the obvious differences (slavery, strict punishment, etc.) During There has long been a false image of perversion in pagan cultures motivated by defamations of the Bible. Actually, the only noticeable difference between Babylonian and Jewish morality seems to be the exacerbated puritanism of the latter in sexual matters.

Hammurabi established a complex and efficient administrative network that he himself supervised. Under his reign, Akkadian became a literary language, although Sumerian continued to be a learned language. In 1749, after the death of Hammurabi, his son Samsuiluna took the throne , who preserved his inheritance quite well. The Hurrian harassment was by then much more intense. in 1720Samsuiluna managed to repel a Hurrian wave that swept through Canaan, well supplied with chariots, bows and arrows. The horde did not stop, but continued south, swelled with Canaanites, and reached Egypt. At that time, Egypt was dismembered and weak, so it could not put up any resistance. The Egyptians called the invaders Hyksos (which apparently means "foreigners") and numbered their kings in the 15th and 16th dynasties. We don't know much about the Hyksos, for the Egyptians hated them deeply and wrote nothing about them except a few slanderous passages. The Hyksos formed an empire that included Lower Egypt and Canaan. His capital was at Tanis,on the easternmost branch of the Nile in the delta. Apparently the Hyksos' crime in the eyes of the Egyptians (apart from the fact that they were foreigners and their invasion had hurt national pride) was that they did not adopt the native gods and worship. Egypt was a people firmly rooted in its tradition and could not conceive of another decent way of life that was not their own. They accused their conquerors of atheism and cruelty and never stopped being hostile to them. The Hyksos empire had its capital in Egypt, but its strength was in Canaan, where they were well accepted. The Hyksos did not extend their rule over Upper Egypt, but left it in a state of chaos from which it would take time to recover.

Meanwhile, the Hittites, who had long ago occupied Anatolia, were beginning to show signs of organization. The first king we have news of is called Anitta, king of Kussara, who undertook a process of conquest and unification of the territory. Around 1700 he controlled half of the peninsula. The Hittites adopted cuneiform writing and adapted it to their Indo-European language. Meanwhile, the nomads of the Zagros Mountains, now called Kassites, learned the technique of the horse and cart and began a process of raids on the Babylonian Empire.


Around this time, an earthquake wreaked destruction on the island of Crete, which temporarily lost its hegemony in the Mediterranean. It is possible that the Greeks took advantage of the situation to inflict a defeat on the Cretans. Perhaps this gave rise to the legend about Theseus, the Athenian prince who killed the Minotaur and freed his city from the tribute that he had to pay to King Minos of Crete.

By 1645 the city of Thebes had recovered from the ravages of the Hyksos. The main god of the city was Amun, and his priests managed to restore order and chose a king from among themselves, the first of the 17th dynasty, who coexisted with the 16th Hyksan dynasty. The Theban kings considered themselves the legitimate kings of all Egypt, although in practice they only controlled the city and its surroundings.

Around 1640 King Hattusil I of Kussara managed to dominate the Hittites in western Anatolia and the Hurrians in northern Syria, thus forming a powerful kingdom with its capital at Hattusa. Over time, the capital would become an important cultural center. In 1610 Hattusil I was succeeded by his grandson De he Mursil I, who reasserted his power in the region and set his sights on Babylon. Thus, Babylon was simultaneously faced with the Hittites to the northwest, the Hurrians to the north, and the Cassites to the east. The end was near.

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