The Chaldean Empire - World History

The Chaldean Empire - World History
Posted on 28-12-2022

The Chaldean Empire   ( 600 ) Nebuchadnezzar II becomes king of Babylon.

At the beginning of the sixth century, the city of Babylon must have been the largest in the world. Archaeologists have found the Ishtar Gate, one of the entrances to the city, decorated with blue bricks glazed with red and white reliefs of bulls and dragons. On an eminence of the land stood the royal palace, with an area of ​​52,000 square meters. The largest room was the throne room, which was 70 meters long and almost as wide. Its walls were also decorated with enameled brick lions. Apparently, the king ordered certain constructions to be covered with earth, after which shrubs and flowers were planted. they were the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Apparently, he built them to please his Median wife, but Greek tradition later attributed them to the legendary queen Semiramis. He also beautified and enlarged the temples, of which there were over a hundred. Marduk recovered his status as the main god.

Merchants from all nations met in Babylon. In its schools, the science accumulated since the times of the Sumerians, three thousand years ago, was taught. Many Greeks came to study it, and this is how the Greek culture assimilated Babylonian science. It was the Greeks who brought the Babylonian sexagesimal system to the West, by virtue of which the circumference has 360 degrees, an hour has 60 minutes, etc. But the science par excellence in Babylonia was astronomy, and thus the word "Chaldee" became synonymous with "astronomer" and, later, with "soothsayer." Chaldean astronomers developed a lunar calendar, made up of 28-day lunar months.

Meanwhile, Egypt was still enjoying prosperity threatened by Babylon. According to Herodotus, Neco I wanted to find out if he could cross from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea bordering Africa, for which he organized an expedition made up of Phoenician sailors to check it out. Herodotus tells that the expedition achieved its purpose in a three-year journey. He doesn't believe the story, but the reason he doesn't believe it is actually a good reason to accept that it's true. Apparently, the sailors affirmed on their return something that for Herodotus was undoubtedly a crude lie: during a good part of the voyage, the midday sun was in the north,

Among the Greeks who studied in Babylonia was Thales of Miletus. Under the tyranny of Trasíbulo, Mileto had reached a high standard of living based mainly on trade and the textile industry. The city had founded some eighty colonies, including the city of Naucratis in Egypt, and many others on the Black Sea coast, then dotted all over with Greek colonies. This prosperity also made it a great artistic and cultural center. Thales was born about 625, the son of a wealthy merchant. He had a reputation for brooding and clueless. They said that when he was young he had fallen into a well while walking distractedly, becoming the object of ridicule for his fellow citizens. He studied in Babylon and in Egypt, where he learned geometry and calculated the height of the pyramids, which no one knew for sure. For this he based himself, naturally, on the so-called theorem, measuring the shadow and comparing it with that of a stick. It is said that on his return to Miletus he managed to predict a good harvest of olives so that the previous winter he managed to buy all the mills in the city at a low price. When his prediction was confirmed he made great profits by monopolizing oil production. Thales was a great observer. He was the first to study how amber attracts small objects after being rubbed, as well as a black stone he obtained in the nearby city of Magnesia, which had the property of attracting iron. These are the first studies on electricity (amber in Greek is saidelektron ) and magnetism. He affirmed that the Universe is governed by immutable laws that have nothing to do with gods or demons, but can be known through reason. His line of thought was the first precedent for modern scientific reasoning and method.

For several decades the Greeks had established commercial relations with the Scythians who lived on the northern coast of the Black Sea. It is possible that the Crimean peninsula owes its name to the Cimmerians, who then occupied it along with other Scythian tribes. The Greeks called it Tauric Chersonesus because the Taurus also lived there, perhaps they were there before the arrival of the Scythians. The first Greeks to settle in that area had been the Milesians, in Panticapea, on the shore of the Cimmerian Bosphorus, the strait that communicates with Lake Meotis. (present-day Azov Sea), and around this time they founded Feodosia, which was a wheat-exporting center for centuries to come. Shortly after, some exiles from Heracleia Pontica (a colony recently founded by the Messenians) created a new colony which they called simply Chersonese.

During the first half of the century, a new religion arose in present-day Iran, south of the Aral Sea, beyond the borders of the Median Empire. A priest named Zarathustra, also known by the Greek version of his name, Zoroaster, claimed that Ahura-Mazda had appeared to him, the Lord of Wisdom, who had entrusted him with the mission of preaching the truth. Although there were many gods, Ahura-Mazda was the greatest of all, and the only one worthy of worship. He not only represented the truth but also the good. If it is evil in the world, it is because there is another god as powerful as Ahura-Mazda, but who personifies evil and lies. His name is Ahriman, in a perpetual struggle with Ahura-Mazda. This conflict between both gods divides the entire Universe. The good men are servants of Ahura-Mazda, while the bad ones are possessed by Ahriman. Zarathustra had many followers and spread his religion, known as Mazdeism or Zoroastrianism, throughout the Median territory, reforming the pre-existing cult. The Median priests, who gradually adopted Mazdaism, were called magicians. Over time this word was extended to refer to any possessor of supernatural powers, equating to "Chaldean".

In 600 the city of Sicyon, located northwest of Corinth, was ruled by the tyrant Cleisthenes. Meanwhile, the Lydian king Alyates had definitively finished off the Cimmerians. Lydia's attitude towards the Greek cities of Asia Minor was not as friendly as that of the Phrygians, but her struggles against the Cimmerians favored the Greeks. Thales warned of the threat posed by Alyates and proposed an alliance of all the Ionian cities, but he was not listened to and, one by one, all the Greek colonies in Asia Minor fell under Lydian rule, with the exception of Miletus. Now the Lydian kingdom stretched over the entire western half of Anatolia. The Halis River marked the border with the Median Empire to the east. The Lydian capital was installed in Sardis, about 80 kilometers from the Aegean Sea. It was the first time that some Greek cities were under "barbarian" rule. However, the Lydian yoke was light. With the tribute that the Greek cities paid him, Lydia became remarkably rich.

Meanwhile, Greek settlers from the Ionian city of Phocea founded the city of Marseilles. Greek trade had spread through present-day France via the Rhône, so Celtic culture began to show Greek influences, as well as Etruscan ones. These relations were not always friendly. Around this time Celtic raids began to take place in northern Italy, wreaking havoc on many Etruscan cities. The Greeks from Cumae founded another city a little further south, also on the west coast. They called it the "new city", that is, Neapolis or Naples. Thus the Greeks reasserted their position in Campania, otherwise entirely controlled by the Etruscans.

Sparta was relatively at peace. In the Peloponnese she dominated Messenia, and her greatest enemy, Argos, dared not provoke her. Only the region known as Arcadia remained, whose main cities were Tegea and Mantinea, which frequently fought each other, and once also had isolated conflicts with Sparta, but Sparta did not want to get seriously involved in a war that could drag on like the Messenian wars.

In 598 Nebuchadnezzar II, faced with Judah's refusal to pay him tribute, besieged Jerusalem. In the course of the siege, King Joaquim died and was replaced by his adolescent son Joaquin. Three months into his reign, Jerusalem fell. Nebuchadnezzar II took Joaquin and a thousand men of the ruling class into exile in Babylon. Nevertheless, he respected the city and consented to Zedekiah, Joachim's uncle and Josiah's third son, occupying the throne.

In 597 Chuang, lord of the Chu principality defeated the Jin principality and took the lead in the Chinese confederation. Soon after, the state of Wu invaded Chu with the help of Jin.

In 595 Pharaoh Neco I died and was succeeded by his son Psammetic II, who led a military campaign against Nubia, as a precaution against a possible attempt to regain control of Egypt that he had had shortly before. Nevertheless, Psamtik II did not try to maintain a permanent dominion on Nubia, because Egypt was not then strong enough to achieve it. He limited himself to reinforcing the island of Elephantine, next to the first cataract of the Nile, which thus became the southern limit of Egypt.

Meanwhile, political tensions in Athens were on the rise. The war against Megara had lasted almost forty years. The nobles watched with concern how the tyrant Periander was destroying the noble houses of Corinth, so they thought he should make some concessions. In 594 he made Solon archon,with the task of revising the laws. He was a nobleman, belonging to the old royal family, who had become rich through trade, but had a reputation for intelligence and honesty with which he had earned the trust of the people. Such confidence turned out to be well justified, since Solon's reforms probably went much further than the nobility would have wished.

He abolished all debts, so that the town could start anew. He ended the practice of enslaving people for debt and freed those who had already been enslaved. The enslaved Athenians who had been taken out of Athens were freed at the cost of the public treasury. He instituted courts made up of common people to whom citizens could appeal instead of the Areopagus. But Solon's greatest revolution was to divide the population according to the census. Citizens were divided into four classes based exclusively on the taxes they paid (not on their titles of nobility). He instituted an assembly, made up of citizens of the four classes, with the power to choose the archons and the members of the Areopagus, although the archons could only be chosen between the first two classes, and the members of the Areopagus among those of the first exclusively. This is how the first appeared democracy in history, that is, the first organized city (not a rudimentary tribe) in which the people systematically chose and controlled their rulers.

Solon must have had immense diplomatic skills to carry out his project. To keep it, he made it a crime to remain neutral in the face of a revolt. Unlike other legislators, he never claimed that his laws were dictated by the gods. He accepted how many criticisms were made of him. When asked if he considered his laws to be the best in the absolute sense, he replied that no, they were only the best in the Athenian sense. In 590, the city of Crisa, near Delphi, tried to seize the oracle, which led to the First Sacred War,in which the neighboring cities united to defend Delphi.

That same year, the Chinese principality of Lu inaugurated the first conscription system, which was soon imitated by the most powerful principalities. Until then the war had been the patrimony of the nobles, while now the infantry made up of peasants downplayed the war chariots. This destroyed the heroic approaches of the nobility and ritual prestige gave way to royal power. The social organization suffered many upheavals.

In 589 a tyrant took control of Mytilene, the main city on the island of Lesbos. It was Pittacus, who had long ago participated in a rebellion against a bad ruler, but refused to assume power, until he was convinced that the only way to ensure that the city had a good government was for him to accept the tyranny. Under his rule the island flourished. It is the time of Sappho, the first known poetess in history, whose work is not preserved, but the Greeks equated it to Homer. The Athenians had established a post inSigeo, near where Troy had been, on the Asiatic side of the Hellespont. The territory was lesbian, and Pittaco sent an expedition that expelled the Athenians from the area.

The same year Psamético II and his son Haibria died.seized the throne of Egypt. The new king continued the ancient Egyptian policy of fomenting riots in the Near East as a security measure. Haibria managed to convince Judah, Moab, Ammon, and Tire to resist Nebuchadnezzar II, promising military aid if necessary. Judah and Tire stopped paying tribute to Babylon, which immediately attracted Nebuchadnezzar II with his army. However, presumed allies, including Egypt, left the rebels in the lurch. The Chaldean king was drastic. He sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple to the ground. King Zedekiah was captured while he was on the run.Godolías, belonging to the Jewish nobility, but who did not belong to the royal family nor did he have the title of king, but rather that of governor of a Chaldean province. The kingdom of Judah had disappeared. Three months later Godolías was assassinated. The Jews understood that Nebuchadnezzar II would see this as an attempted rebellion, so many of them emigrated to Egypt (taking Jeremiah against his will).

Nebuchadnezzar II then turned against Tyre, then ruled by King Etbaal III. In 587 he besieged the city, but it was easier to defend than Jerusalem, since the Chaldeans did not have a fleet with which to prevent Phoenician ships from supplying the city. This confrontation allowed Pharaoh Haibria to reinforce his territory. He created a fleet made up of Greek sailors and occupied the island of Cyprus.

In 586 Periander, the tyrant of Corinth, died. He was replaced by a nephew who was overthrown after a few months, after which the nobility regained control of the city.

Shortly after, there was a confrontation that had been long overdue: the Lydian kingdom and the Median Empire tried to extend their domains one at the other's expense in order to dominate all of Asia Minor. They clashed on May 28, 585.It is the first historical fact of which we know the exact date, and this is because that day there was an eclipse of the sun. The armies were so terrified that the kings Aliates and Cyaxares immediately signed peace, each returned to his homeland and the natural border marked by the river Halis was never questioned again. By the way, Thales of Miletus became famous among his fellow citizens because he predicted the eclipse (although they almost accused him of witchcraft). Shortly after, in 584 Ciaxares died and the Median Empire was left in the hands of his son Astiages. Nothing is known about him, which means that he did not fight any battle, but peacefully ruled his empire.

In 582 the First Sacred War ended. The army of the tyrant Cleisthenes managed to defeat Crisa, the city that had seized Delphi. The city was razed to the ground and a curse was placed against anyone who dared to rebuild it. To commemorate the victory, Cleisthenes instituted the Pythian Games,which were held in Delphi every four years, in the middle of each Olympiad. While the winner of the Olympic Games received a garland of olive leaves, the prize in the Pythian Games was a garland of laurel leaves, since the laurel, like the Delphic oracle, was consecrated to Apollo. Since then the laurel is a symbol of glory.

In 579 Pittacus renounced the tyranny in Mytilene at the age of seventy. He was remembered by the Greeks as an exemplary ruler.

In 578 the king of Rome Lucius Tarquinius Priscus was assassinated by men paid by the sons of the previous king, Ancus Marcius (disgruntled at not having inherited the throne). However, a son-in-law of Lucio Tarquinio reacted quickly and seized power. The sixth king of Rome was Servius Tullius. He was also an Etruscan, and perhaps the story of Tarquin's assassination hides an attempted rebellion by Rome against Etruscan domination. However, the truth is that the new king did not favor Etruscan interests at all. Instead, he formed a new Latin Leagueby which Rome was placed at the head of the other cities of Latium. The city spread over two more hills, the Esquiline and the Viminal, and the seven hills were surrounded by a wall (the Servian wall) that marked the urban limits for the next five hundred years.

Meanwhile the cities of India were prospering. Several aristocratic republics ruled by oligarchs arose in the Ganges valley. One of the most important was Sakya, whose capital was at Kapilavattu. It had a 500-member parliament, led by a regularly elected president. Other of these republics joined in a confederation led by the Vrji, which also included the Videha, the Jñatrka, the Licchavi, and others. The city of Vaisali, Capital of the Licchavi, it must have been one of the richest cities of the time. The kingdom of Magadha was also formed, with its capital at Girivraja. The city was strategically located in a valley, protected by 40 kilometer stone walls.

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