A HISTORY OF BABYLON FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE MONARCHY TO THE PERSIAN CONQUEST
LEONARD W. KING
The letters and inscriptions of Hammurabi, king of Babylon, about B.C. 2200, to which are added a series of letters of other kings of the first dynasty of Babylon
VOLUME I ....... VOLUME II ....... VOLUME III
I. A Comparative List oF the Dinasties of Nisin, Larsa, and Babylon II. A Dynastic List of the Kings of Babylon .
In the first volume of this work (A HISTORY OF SUMER AND AKKAD) an account was given of the early races of Babylonia from prehistoric times to the foundation of the monarchy. It closed at the point when the city of Babylon was about to secure the permanent leadership under her dynasty of West-Semitic kings. The present volume describes the fortunes of Babylonia during the whole of the dynastic period, and it completes the history of the southern kingdom. Last autumn, in consequence of the war, it was decided to postpone its publication; but, at the request of the publishers, I have now finished it and seen it through the press. At a time when British troops are in occupation of Southern Mesopotamia, the appearance of a work upon its earlier history may perhaps not be considered altogether inopportune.
Thanks to recent excavation Babylon has ceased to be an abstraction, and we are now able to reconstitute the main features of one of the most famous cities of the ancient world. Unlike Ashur and Nineveh, the great capitals of Assyria, Babylon survived with but little change under the Achaemenian kings of Persia, and from the time of Herodotus onward we possess accounts of her magnificence, which recent research has in great part substantiated. It is true that we must modify the description Herodotus has left us of her size, but on all other points the accuracy of his information is confirmed. The Lion Frieze of the Citadel and the enamelled beasts of the Ishtar Gate enable us to understand something of the spell she cast. It is claimed that the site has been identified of her most famous building, the Hanging Gardens of the royal palace; and, if that should prove to be the case, they can hardly be said to have justified their reputation. Far more impressive is the Tower of Babel with its huge Peribolos, enclosing what has been aptly described as the Vatican of Babylon.
The majority of the buildings uncovered date from the Neo-Babylonian period, but they may be regarded as typical of Babylonian civilization as a whole. For temples were rebuilt again and again on the old lines, and religious conservatism retained the mud-brick walls and primitive decoration of earlier periods. Even Nabopolassar’s royal palace must have borne a close resemblance to that of Hammurabi; and the street network of the city appears to have descended without much change from the time of the First Dynasty. The system which Hammurabi introduced into the legislation of his country may perhaps have been reflected in the earliest attempt at town-planning on a scientific basis. The most striking fact about Babylon's history is the continuity of her culture during the whole of the dynastic period. The principal modification which took place was in the system of land-tenure, the primitive custom of tribal or collective proprietorship giving place to private ownership under the policy of purchase and annexation deliberately pursued by the West-Semitic and Kassite conquerors. A parallel to the earlier system and its long survival may be seen in the village communities of India at the present day.
In contrast to that of Assyria, the history of Babylon is more concerned with the development and spread of a civilization than with the military achievements of a race. Her greatest period of power was under her first line of kings; and in after ages her foreign policy was dictated solely by her commercial needs. The letters from Boghaz Iveui, like those from Tell el-Amarna, suggest that, in keeping her trade connections open, she relied upon diplomacy in preference to force. That she could fight at need is proved by her long struggle with the northern kingdom, but in the later period her troops were never a match for the trained legions of Assyria. It is possible that Nabopolassar and his son owed their empire in great measure to the protecting arm of Media; and Nebuchadnezzar's success at Carchemish does not prove that the Babylonian character had suddenly changed. A recently recovered letter throws light on the unsatisfactory state of at least one section of the army during Nebuchadnezzar's later years, and incidentally it suggests that Gobryas, who facilitated the Persian occupation, may be identified with a Babylonian general of that name. With the fall of Media, he may perhaps have despaired of any successful opposition on his country's part.
Babylon's great wealth, due to her soil and semi-tropical climate, enabled her to survive successive foreign dominations and to impose her civilization on her conquerors. Her caravans carried that civilization far afield, and one of the most fascinating problems of her history is to trace the effect of such intercourse in the literary remains of other nations. Much recent research has been devoted to this subject, and the great value of its results has given rise in some quarters to the view that the religious development of Western Asia, and in a minor degree of Europe, was dominated by the influence of Babylon. The theory which underlies such speculation assumes a reading of the country's history which cannot be ignored. In the concluding chapter an estimate has been attempted of the extent to which the assumption is in harmony with historical research.
The delay in the publication of this volume has rendered it possible to incorporate recent discoveries, some of which have not as yet appeared in print. Professor A. T. Clay has been fortunate enough to acquire for the Yale University Collection a complete list of the early kings of Larsa, in addition to other documents with an important bearing on the history of Babylon. He is at present preparing the texts for publication, and has meanwhile very kindly sent me transcripts of the pertinent material with full permission to make use of them. The information afforded as to the overlapping of additional dynasties with the First Dynasty of Babylon has thrown new light on the circumstances which led to the rise of Babylon to power. But these and other recent discoveries, in their general effects do not involve any drastic changes in the chronological scheme as a whole. They lead rather to local rearrangements, which to a great extent counterbalance one another. Under Babylon's later dynasties her history and that of Assyria are so closely interrelated that it is difficult to isolate the southern kingdom. An attempt has been made to indicate broadly the chief phases of the conflict, and the manner in which Babylonian interests alone were affected. In order to avoid needless repetition, a fuller treatment of the period is postponed to the third volume of this work. A combined account will then also be given of the literature and civilization of both countries.
I take this opportunity of expressing my thanks to Monsieur F. Thureau-Dangin, Conservateur-adjoint of the Museums of the Louvre, for allowing me last spring to study unpublished historical material in his charge. The information he placed at my disposal I found most useful during subsequent work in the Ottoman Museum at Constantinople shortly before the war. Reference has already been made to my indebtedness to Professor Clay, who has furnished me from time to time with other unpublished material, for which detailed acknowledgment is made in the course of this work. With Professor C. F. Burney I have discussed many of the problems connected with the influence of Babylon upon Hebrew literature ; and I am indebted to Professor A. C. Headlam for permission to reprint portions of an article on that subject, which I contributed in 1912 to the Church Quarterly Review.
To Dr. E. A. Wallis Budge my thanks are due, as he suggested that I should write these histories, and he has given me the benefit of his advice. To him, as to Sir Frederic Kenyon and Mr. D. G. Hogarth, I am indebted for permission to make use of illustrations, which have appeared in official publications of the British Museum. My thanks are also due to Monsieur Ernest Leroux of Paris for allowing me to reproduce some of the plates from the " Memoires de la Delegation en Perse," published by him under the editorship of Monsieur J. de Morgan; and to the Council and Secretary of the Society of Biblical Archaeology for the loan of a block employed to illustrate a paper I contributed to their Proceedings. The greater number of the plates illustrating the excavations are from photographs taken on the spot; and the plans and drawings figured in the text are the work of Mr. E. J. Lambert and Mr. C. O. Waterhouse, who have spared no pains to ensure their accuracy. The designs upon the cover of this volume represent the two most prominent figures in Babylonian tradition. In the panel on the face of the cover the national hero Gilgamesh is portrayed, whose epic reflects the Babylonian heroic ideal. The panel on the back of the binding contains a figure of Marduk, the city-god of Babylon, grasping in his right hand the flaming sword with which he severed the dragon of chaos.
L. W. KING.