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MapFeatures for Ancient MesopotamiaBabylonian Empire (Old Babylonian Period) / Dynasty I
c.1792 - 1595 BC

The small Amorite kingdom which was centred on the city of Babylon was probably founded about a century after the collapse of Sumer in circa 2004 BC. Lying in the region of Akkad, it was known as Babil by the Sumerians and Bab-ilim by the Akkadians, and had existed as little more than a village since at least 2700 BC.

In circa 1897 BC, an Amorite prince called Sumu-Abum took advantage of the period of anarchy in Mesopotamia following the collapse of Ur, and settled in Babil. So as not to draw attention to himself, he continued the worship of a small local god; a secondary divinity of the family of Enki named Marduk (or Amar UTU), the servant of the protective god Shamash, son of Sippar. Marduk was soon going to replace the great god Enlil, and become the god of power, war, sex and domination, ideal for a city that, within little over a century, would dominate all of Mesopotamia.

Babylon played its own part in the flowering of knowledge in the eighteenth and seventeenth centuries BC. The Code of Hammurabi was one of the most important documents in Babylon's history. It was a series of laws which emphasised the pursuit of justice, especially in relation to business transactions, and it set the form for later law codes.

All dates for this period are approximate until the eighth century BC. This list follows the (until recently) most generally accepted middle chronology for dating rulers, although there are three other competing models. The newly in-favour short chronology dates the Old Babylonians to sixty-four years later than is shown here.

(Additional information by Sean Bambrough.)

Cush?

Legendary great-grandson of Noah.

fl c.1900 BC

Nimrod? / Nebrod?

Son. Possible founder of Babylon.

The Biblical Nimrod is credited in Genesis as having a kingdom which includes Babel (Babylon), and Erech, and Accad (Akkad), and Calneh (identity uncertain), in the land of Shinar (Sumer). The Book of Jubilees mentions the name in its Greek form, Nebrod, as being the father of Azurad, the wife of Eber and mother of Peleg. This account would therefore make him an ancestor of the Israelite leader, Abraham, who, seven generations later, departs from Ur in c.1752 BC. As Abraham can be dated approximately, so too can Nimrod. Nimrod's imperial ventures (and name) as described in Genesis may be based on the conquests of the Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta I (1244-1207 BC).

Although records are sketchy and imprecise, the Amorites of Babylon seem to emerge approximately a century after the collapse of Sumer when Sumuabum frees the city from the domination of nearby Kazallu. The first five rulers of Babylon (sometimes called Akkad, which is the region in which it is located), ensure its survival, but at first they acquire little territory outside that which they already possess - a few towns in the surrounding land.

c.1897 - 1883 BC

Su-abu / Suum-abum / Sumuabum

Freed Babylon from the rule of Kazallu.

The first Babylonian king starts out as a minor Amorite leader who seizes the town from Kazallu and declares its independence. He begins his reign with the construction of a great city wall, which is still unfinished at his death, after he is driven into exile in Der by Manana of Kish.

Ancient Babylon
Babylon began life as a modest town which had been seized from Kazallu, but was quickly fortified by the building of a city wall in the nineteenth century BC

c.1883 - 1847 BC

Sumula-ilum / Sumu-la-el

Sacked Kish and Kazallu.

c.1847 - 1832 BC

Sabium / Sabum

Killed Silli-Adad of Larsa.

c.1832 - 1812 BC

Apil-sin

c.1830 BC

Eshnunna extends its territory considerably into northern Babylonia under the reign of Naram-Sin. Between 1819-1812 BC, the king of Ekallatum is forced to take refuge in Babylon after Naram-Sin conquers his city.

c.1812 - 1793 BC

Sin-muballit

Defeated by Rim-Sin of Larsa.

By the time of Hammurabi's accession to the throne, the kings of Babylon had begun to enlarge the state's borders by conquering the Amorite cities of Dilbat, Borsippa, Kish, and Sippar. If it didn't already also control Kazallu from c.1861 BC, it certainly does so by this time.

c.1792 - 1750 BC

Hammurabi

Son. Established the empire.

c.1787 BC

Increasing the state's size and strength considerably, Hammurabi attacks and defeats the Amorite city state of Isin.

c.1784 BC

The city state of Malgum is seized.

c.1776 BC

The kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia falls, bringing temporary independence to most of northern Mesopotamia.

c.1764 BC

A major invasion by a coalition army of Elamites, Assyrians, Gutians and Eshnunnians is defeated and crushed, and Hammurabi retaliates against Elam.

c.1763 BC

Hammurabi attacks and defeats the Amorite city state of Larsa for its failure to provide any real assistance in the allied effort to beat back the growing threat of the powerful Elamites. The victory gives him control of the entire lower Mesopotamian plain, which includes Nippur, Ur, Uruk, and Isin. The Elamites become vassals of Babylonia, as does Ekallatum.

c.1762 BC

The Babylonians capture the only remaining political power to oppose them when they take Eshnunna, inheriting well-established trade routes and economic stability. Northern Mesopotamia is occupied, ending the independence of small city states such as Andarig, Karana, Qattara, and Razama.

c.1761 BC

Mari, which had previously been a minor ally against the kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia, is finally defeated. The removal of this last opposition wins Hammurabi control of virtually all of former Sumerian Mesopotamia. During this period, and perhaps due to this dominance, the city of Kisurra declines. Hammurabi also maintains important trade relations with the Canaanite city of Hazor.

c.1752 BC

Two Semitic Israelite leaders, Terah and Abraham, lead their tribe of people out of Ur towards Canaan, following the curve of the Fertile Crescent.

Research by some modern scholars now think this date is too late and the location is too far south. Cities such as Urkesh or Akkadia or Mosul (now Urfa) have been suggested as the location of the Semitic exodus. The book of Genesis says Aram-Naharaim (an Aramaic name), while classical sources suggest Assyria. Currently the period most favoured is that of third dynasty Ur, or perhaps early Isin or Larsa. Lagash is another possibility, towards the end of the second dynasty.

c.1750 - 1712 BC

Samsu-Iluna

Son.

c.1741 - 1736 BC

Many city states have been revolting against Babylonian rule since the death of Hammurabi, and many free themselves from the empire, despite hard fighting by Samsu-Illuna. Terqa is attacked, and Apum is sacked (1726 BC), but Rim-Sin II of Larsa now revolts against Babylon's rule, aided by Anni of Eshnunna.

c.1732 BC

The Kassite peoples have been migrating into Mesopotamia, mostly being used as farm workers by Babylon. Akkadians claiming descent from Isin now set up their own territory in southern Mesopotamia's Sealand region, removing it from the control of the Amorites to their north. Two years later, in 1730 BC (or 1715 BC), Sealand defeats an invading army of Kassites which then sets up a kingdom in the remnants of Mari.

c.1728/27 BC

Samsu-Illuna sacks Apum, destroying the thriving city.

c.1722 BC

Samsu-Iluna defeats two otherwise unknown and hostile kings, Iadikhabum and Muti-khurshana, both of whom bear western names.

c.1712 - 1684 BC

Abi-eshuh / Abieshu

Son.

c.1684 - 1647 BC

Ammi-ditana

Son.

Babylon is able to regain the cities of Uruk, Isin, Lagash and Larsa from Sealand.

c.1647 - 1626 BC

Ammi-zaduga / Ammisaduqa

Son.

c.1626 - 1595 BC

Samsu-ditana / Samsuditana

c.1595 BC

The Babylonian empire has been steadily declining following the arrival of the Hittites in the region, and due to over-farming of the fields, leading to increased salinisation and failing crops. The culture of the Hittites emerges, as does that of the Hurrian empire of Mitanni. In c.1595 BC the Hittite ruler Mursili I leads his army down the Euphrates and sacks Babylon. The power vacuum allows the Kassites to take over control of Babylonia.

MapSealand Kings of Babylonia (ŠEŠ-KU) / Dynasty II
c.1732 - 1460 BC

The second dynasty of Babylonian rulers did not actually rule in Babylon itself, but instead held former Sumer's southern area, a region known by the Babylonians as Sealand, which was gradually expanding southwards due to the silting up of the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates. Ruled by these Akkadian people, it may have stretched as far as the Persian Gulf and the border of Elam, across Arabia, to the Red Sea.

Records regarding Sealand are extremely sparse, with no dates being known and even the lengths of rule being uncertain for some kings. Dates here are calculated against those lengths of rule and external events. The names are regarded as fanciful by some scholars - a vain attempt to lead a Sumerian revival.

c.1732 - 1700 BC

Iluma-Ilum / Iliman

Established the dynasty.

c.1732 BC

Iluma-Ilum claims (falsely, it seems) to be a descendent of Damiq-Ilishu, the last ruler of Isin. He claims the independence of Sumer from the Babylonian empire and ultimately gains the freedom of Sumer south of Nippur, founding the Dynasty of the Sealand. He also frees Kish from Elamite control.

c.1730/15 BC

An invading Kassite army is crushed by Iluma-Ilum and retreats north to set up a kingdom in the remnants of Mari.

c.1715 BC

Abi-eshuh of Babylon attempts to defeat Iluma-Ilum but he flees to the swamps and continues to rule.

c.1700 - 1683 BC

Itti-ili-nibi

c.1683 - 1657 BC

Damiq-ilishu

Damiq-ilishu loses Uruk, Isin, Lagash and Larsa to Babylon.

c.1657 - 1642 BC

Ishkibal

c.1642 - 1618 BC

Shushushi

c.1618 - 1592 BC

Gulkishar

c.1592 - 1580 BC

Gishen?

Name questionable as the list tablet is damaged.

c.1580 - 1530 BC

Peshgaldaramash

c.1530 - 1502 BC

Adarakalamma

c.1502 - 1476 BC

Ekurduanna

c.1476 - 1469 BC

Melamkurkukka

c.1469 - 1460 BC

Ea-gāmil

c.1460 BC

Ea-gamil is overthrown by Ulamburiash. Sealand falls to the Kassites, and is absorbed into Babylonia (although the evidence for this is much later and very vague).

Kassite Kings of Babylonia / Dynasty III
c.1595 - 1157 BC

The Kassites were another non-Semitic, non-Indo-European mountain people just like the Amorites, and their language matches nothing else known today. They invaded Babylonia in the eighteenth century BC and although initially defeated, they retired to Mari from where they eventually took over Babylonia, ruling over it and the Amorite peoples.

In fact, the Kassites had the longest period of rule in Babylonia. Thanks to the relative absence of information, they were long thought to have achieved little in the way of cultural development. However, it now appears that the kingdom made great strides in cementing the cultural unification of southern Mesopotamia - which in their time truly became 'Babylonia', instead of just another Mesopotamian city state with extensive possessions - and those possessions stretched all the way southwards to Bahrain. Egypt's Amarna archive holds Babylonian diplomatic correspondence, which gives us much more information about Babylonian kings than Babylonian records themselves.

Known by their neighbours as the 'kings of the land of Karduniash' (possibly the Kassite name for Babylonia), the Kassites themselves achieved political power but did not have a cultural impact on the region. In some Assyrian sources, the ruler was termed 'king of the Kassites', reflecting the dual nature of Kassite rule; holding political power but sufficiently distinct from the rest of the population to be regarded as a separate group.

c.1730 BC

Gandash

Kassite leader when they arrived in Babylonia.

c.1715 BC

The invading Kassite army under Gandash is crushed by Iluma-Ilum of the Sealand Dynasty. However, Gandash does successfully conquer Mari, and the Kassite kings reside there.

c.1595 BC

The economically weakened Amorite Babylonian empire is sacked by the Hittites, and is left leaderless, allowing the Kassites to move south from Mari and take over (although the exact date at which this happens is unknown). A dark age period follows and lasts approximately two centuries. At around the same time it seems that the Kassites devastate Elam.

c.1595 - 1545 BC

Agum II

The first Kassite king of Babylonia.

c.1545 - ? BC

Burnaburiash I

Kashtiliash III

c.1520 BC

Elam plunders Akkad's temples.

Ulamburiash

Brother. Lord of the 'Sealand' from c.1460 BC.

c.1460 BC

Sealand falls to the Kassites, and is absorbed into Babylonia.

Agum III

Kadashman-Harbe I

Karaindash

? - 1391 BC

Kurigalzu I

Died 1377.

Kurigalzu I rebuilds the temple at Ur, and constructs a new capital city, named Dur-Kurigalzu, 'fortress of Kurigalzu', in the far north of Babylonia (modern Agar Quf).

Dur-Kurigalzu ziggurrat
The partly restored ziggurrat of Dur-Kurigalzu

1391 - 1375 BC

Kadashman-Enlil I

A correspondent in the Egyptian Armana letters.

1375 - 1347 BC

Burnaburiash II

A correspondent in the Egyptian Armana letters.

In the Egyptian Armana letters, Burnaburiash claims supremacy over the Assyrians. Whether this had ever been a fact, it is certainly not a realistic claim by this point. Burnaburiash even marries a daughter of the Assyrian king, Assur-Uballit I, as his main wife. A comprehensive archive is kept at Nippur from this point.

1347 - 1345 BC

Karahardash

Son. m dau of the Assyrian king. Murdered.

1345 BC

The Kassite king is happy to marry a daughter of the powerful Assyrian king, Ashur-Uballit I, but the marriage leads to the Kassite faction at court murdering the Babylonian king and placing Nazibugash, a pretender, on the throne. Assur-Uballit promptly marches into Babylonia to avenge his son-in-law. He raises Kurigalzu, a Kassite of the royal house, to the throne.

1345 BC

Nazibugash

Pretender. (Not in the Georges Roux list.)

1345 - 1324 BC

Kurigalzu II

Raised by Ashur-Uballit I of Assyria.

1323 - 1298 BC

Nazimaruttash

c.1320 BC

The Kassites briefly occupy Elam.

1297 - 1280 BC

Kadashman-Turgu

1279 - 1265 BC

Kadashman-Enlil II

1265 - 1255 BC

Kudur-Enlil

1255 - 1243 BC

Shagarakti-Shuriash

1243 - 1235 BC

Kashtiliash IV

Taken in chains to Assyria. The Nippur archive is ended.

1235 - 1227 BC

The Kassites are conquered by Assyria and direct rule by Assyria lasts for eight years. Kassite subject states in Canaan become vulnerable to later attacks by the Israelites.

c.1230 BC

The Kassites are defeated in battle by Elam. In two successive Elamite campaigns, Nippur is taken and Isin is attacked.

1227 - 1224 BC

Enlil-nadin-shumi

Assyrian puppet.

1223 BC

Kadashman-Harbe II

Assyrian puppet.

1222 - 1217 BC

Adad-shuma-iddina

Assyrian puppet.

1217 BC

A Kassite rebellion throws off Assyrian control.

1216 - 1187 BC

Adad-shuma-usur

1186 - 1172 BC

Melishipak / Meli-Shipak

1171 - 1159 BC

Marduk-apal-iddina I

1158 BC

Zababa-shuma-iddina

c.1158 - 1155 BC

The overthrow of the Kassites in Babylon is achieved by the Elamites. Babylon itself falls in 1157. The Elamites control Babylonia for three years in a short-lived empire.

1158 - 1155 BC

Kutir-Nahhunte

Son of Shutruk-Nahhunte of Elam and his successor there.

1157 - 1155 BC

Enlil-nadin-ahhe / Enlil-Shuma-Usur

Possibly fights on against Elam.

Kings of Babylonia / Dynasty IV (Isin Dynasty II)
1156 - 1025 BC

The Akkadian city state of Isin had been conquered by Babylonia (or Karduniash, as it was known by the Kassites) in around 1787 and 1763 BC. Following invasions by the Elamites, the Babylonians rallied around the Isin nobility, which reclaimed the throne from central Babylonia and strengthened it. The country itself slid into a general decline, with urbanism sharply down - the number of true urban centres perhaps only included Babylon, Isin, and Ur. The whole region, from the Hittites in Anatolia, to Egypt, Syria and the Levant, and Assyria, was at this time in the grip of a dark age resulting from the general instability of the start of the century, and a new people, the Aramaeans, were migrating into the surrounding countryside, exacerbating the situation. A major regional drought made the situation even worse.

1156 - 1146 BC

Marduk-kabit-ahheshu

1146 - 1132 BC

Itti-Marduk-balatu

c.1138 BC

After years of raiding and plundering the country at will, the Elamites are finally expelled from Babylonia.

1132 - 1126 BC

Ninurta-nadin-shumi

1126 - 1103 BC

Nebuchadnezzar / Nebuchadrezzar I

c.1120 BC

Nebuchadnezzar puts an end to Elamite prosperity by sacking the capital and kingdom. The kingdom falls and becomes part of Babylonia's territories.

1103 - 1100 BC

Enlil-nadin-apli

1100 - 1082 BC

Marduk-nadin-ahhe

1082 - 1069 BC

Marduk-shapik-zeri

1069 - 1046 BC

Adad-apla-iddina

1046 BC

Marduk-ahhe-eriba

(Not in the Georges Roux list.)

1046 - 1033 BC

Marduk-zer-X

1033 - 1025 BC

Nabu-shum-libur

Kassite Kings of Babylonia / Dynasty V (Sealand Dynasty II)
1024 - 1004 BC

A second dynasty, this time from the extreme south, managed to take control of Babylonia, although this one was made up of Kassites. Still in the midst of the dark age period, scribal activity was at a very low point throughout Mesopotamia. Bureaucracy had virtually disappeared, as had court correspondence, and indeed the entire palace system itself in many places. It survived in Egypt, Babylonia, and Assyria, but for that very reason, while the rest of the world was producing new advances to cope with a new age, these three empires became technologically backwards.

1024 - 1008 BC

Simbar-shipak

1008 BC

Ea-mukin-shumi

(Not in the Georges Roux list.)

1008 - 1004 BC

Kashu-nadi-ahhe

(Not in the Georges Roux list.)

Kassite Kings of Babylonia / Dynasty VI (Bazi Dynasty)
1004 - 985 BC

As semi-nomadic groups before they settled, the Kassites were organised in family and tribal units which were named as 'House of so-and-so' (Akkadian Bit + the name of a person, usually an ancestor). After they lost political control of Babylonia, the Kassites remained there and in neighbouring areas, and maintained their organisational houses with ancestral Kassite names. These remained the administrative units of some areas after the disappearance of the main dynasty of Kassite kings. The three kings of this dynasty were from a region of Kassites which had not ruled before.

1004 - 987 BC

Eulma shakin-shumi

987 - 985 BC

Ninurta-kudurri-usur I

(Not in the Georges Roux list.)

985 BC

Shiriqti-shuqamunu

(Not in the Georges Roux list.)

Elamite Kings of Babylonia / Dynasty VII
985 - 979 BC

The Elamite rule of Babylon was a brief affair, with the city being governed by an individual who's lineage and position is unknown. The kingdom of Elam had been drawn into the Babylon state about 1120 BC, following the sack of Susa. Some Elamites probably emigrated to Babylon itself and merged with the general population, sometimes attaining high positions, although Elam itself never loses its distinct identity. Elamite and Babylonian troops often fight side by side against outside enemies, such as the Persians, new arrivals at this time on the eastern borders.

985 - 979 BC

Mar-bīti-apla-us.ur

Uncertain Kings of Babylonia / Dynasty VIII
979 - 748 BC

The situation in Babylonia had become extremely confused by this time, with various Kassite, Babylonian, and newly-arrived Chaldaean and Arabian groups vying for power, as well as some individuals who claimed distant Elamite descent. Most of those who secured the throne achieved very little in the face of such a politically fragmented state. Also arriving at this time were groups of Aramaeans, the most important of them being the Gambulians and the Puqudians. They did not seek integration into Babylonian society and mostly did not seek political power, but their small village communities dominated the fringes of the agricultural zone near the Tigris.

977 - 943 BC

Nabu-mukin-apli

971 - 970 BC

Festivals are suspended in Babylonia due to Aramaean invasions.

943 BC

Ninurta-kudurri-usur II

Son.

942 - c.920 BC

Mar-biti-ahhe-iddina

Brother. Some lists mark this as the start of Dynasty IX.

c.920 - 900 BC

Shamash-mudammiq

899? - 888? BC

Nabu-shuma-ukin

887? - 855 BC

Nabu-apla-iddina

854 - 819 BC

Marduk-zakir-shumi I

853 BC

Marduk-zakir-shumi calls to Assyria for support to quell a rebellion by his younger brother. Although Shalmaneser III views him as an equal in rank, this period sees the start of continued Assyrian interference in Babylonian political affairs. The remaining kings were often very weak and reigns could be short.

823 BC

Babylonia comes to the aid of one of the princes of Assyria who is involved in a civil war for the right of succession. With the help of Marduk-zakir-shumi, Shamshi-Adad V gains the Assyrian throne.

Shamshi-Adad V of Assyria
Babylon had mixed fortunes in its relations with Assyria, but in 823 BC it successfully supported Shamshi-Adad V's claim to the Assyrian throne

819 - 813 BC

Marduk-balassu-iqbi

813 - 811 BC

Baba-aha-iddina

811 - c.800 BC

(Five unknown rulers)

c.800 - c.790 BC

Ninurta-apla-X

c.790 - 780 BC

Marduk-bel-zeri

c.780 - 769 BC

Marduk-apla-usur

769 - 761 BC

Eriba-Marduk

760 - 748 BC

Nabu-shuma-ishkun

748 BC

Mixed Kassite/Babylonian rule of Babylonia comes to an end. The Chaldaeans become players in Mesopotamian politics, seizing Babylon itself in 734 BC.

Chaldaean Kings of Babylonia / Dynasty IX (& X)
734 - 627 BC

Babylonia's Dynasty IX saw the replacement of the mixture of Kassite, Babylonian and Chaldaean rulers with Chaldaeans alone. They contested regularly with Assyria for the rule of Babylonia, and changes of king could be very rapid. Assyria seemed to be reluctant to take over Babylonia openly. Probably an acknowledgement that Babylonia had fundamentally influenced Assyria's culture and religion led to a sense of respect that prevented similar treatment to that meted out to most of Assyria's troublesome possessions. Anyway, the extreme south was impossible to control as it was covered with marshes in which traditional military tactics could not be deployed. These areas provided refuge for the Chaldaeans.

It is from this point that Babylonian chronology can be securely dated thanks to Claudius Ptolemy's second century AD Canon of Kings, a collection of astronomical observations passed down by Hellenistic Babylonian priests, as well as other sources.

747 - 734 BC

(Nabonassar) Nabu-nasir

The earliest certain regnal date in Babylonia.

734 BC

The Chaldaeans occupy Babylon.

734 - 732 BC

Nabu-nadin-zeri

(Not in the Georges Roux list.)

732 BC

Nabu-shuma-ukin II

(Not in the Georges Roux list.)

732 - 721 BC

Nabu-mukin-zeri / Nadios

729 - 722 BC

Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria rules Babylonia direct until 727 BC, and then his successor, Shalmaneser V, does the same.

722 - 710 BC

Marduk-apla-iddina II

Biblical Merodach-Baladan or Berodach-baladan. Usurper.

720 BC

Assyrian king Sargon attempts to attack Elam but is defeated by the Elamites and Babylonians near Der. It seems likely that another attack is mounted in 713 BC, as Sargon is surprised by a rebellion in Tabal while his attention is focussed on Elamite lands.

710 - 703 BC

Marduk-apla-iddina II (Merodach-Baladan) is a Chaldaean prince who usurps the throne with the aid of Syria and Philistia, and has dealings with Hezekiah of Judah at around the same time. Sargon II of Assyria eventually drives out the usurper and rules Babylonia direct during the remainder of his lifetime. Sennacherib rules direct for two years afterwards before another Chaldaean usurps the throne.

703 BC

Marduk-zakir-shumi II

Reigned for a few weeks. Overthrown.

703 BC

Marduk-apla-iddina II (Merodach-Baladan) retakes the throne, strengthening Chaldaean control. During his rule he also has dealings with Hezekiah of Judah.

703 BC

Marduk-apla-iddina II

Regained throne. Fiercely anti-Assyrian.

703 BC

Marduk-apla-iddina II is driven south into the marshes by Sennacherib. The Assyrian king places a native Babylonian on the throne.

702 - 700 BC

Bel-bini / Bel-ibni

Effectively an Assyrian puppet.

700 BC

Sennacherib still has to mount another campaign into the south to deal with Marduk-apla-idinna (whose resurgence perhaps accounts for a Marduk-apla-idinna III in some lists). During this period he replaces Bel-bini on the Babylonian throne with his own eldest son.

Marduk-apla-idinna III

Probably Marduk-apla-idinna II.

699 - 694 BC

Ashur-nadin-shumi

Son of Sennacherib of Assyria.

694 - 691 BC

An Elamite military raid takes Babylon and the populace takes the opportunity to capture Ashur-nadin-shumi himself. They hand him over to the Elamite king and he is taken off, never to be seen again. A new native king takes the throne in 694 BC, but he is quickly removed by Sennacherib. Then Mushezib-Marduk seizes the throne and organises a strong anti-Assyrian coalition made up of Chaldaeans, Babylonians, Aramaeans and Elamites, whom he pays from the temple treasury.

694 - 693 BC

Nergal-ushezib

(Name not in the Georges Roux list.)

693 - 689 BC

Mushezib-Marduk

Chaldaean.

691 BC

Assyria engages Mushezib-Marduk's forces in what is probably an indecisive encounter near Halule on Assyria's border. The following year, Sennacherib starts a fifteen month-long siege of Babylon.

689 - 681 BC

The siege of Babylon ends with it being sacked and looted, its population largely deported. Sennacherib leaves the land in disarray with very little activity taking place and few records. He rules in name but takes no active role in Babylonia and is killed by his sons in 681 BC for the act.

680 - 669 BC

One of those sons, Essarhaddon of Assyria, rules Babylonia direct, rebuilding Babylon in the 670s.

669 BC

One of Essarhaddon's sons, Shamash-shumi-ukin, rules Babylonia on a semi-independent basis, but local rule returns to the Chaldaeans, although still under Assyrian overlordship. Shamash-shumi-ukin rebels against his brother in Assyria, but is besieged and disappears from history, presumably killed.

669 - 649 BC

Shamash-shumi-ukin

Son of Esarhaddon of Assyria. Rebelled and was defeated.

647 - 627 BC

Kandalanu

Puppet of Assyria.

629 - 626 BC

A rival faction begins to take shape in the south, and in 627 BC Kandalanu mysteriously disappears, paving the way for a full-blown revolt by Nabopolasser the following year. Assyrian kings (or in Sin-shumu-lishir's case an apparent rival) quickly lose all control there. Various cities proclaim allegiance to the different Assyrian claimants to the throne but they are conquered one by one. The Neo-Babylonian empire is born under the leadership of Nabopolasser's Chaldaeans.

626 BC

Sin-shumu-lishir

Ruled parts, including Babylon. (Not in the Georges Roux list.)

Neo-Babylonian Empire (Chaldaean / Aramaean) / Dynasty X (XI)
Of The Chaldaeans
629 - 539 BC

The Chaldaean Babylonians were, once the Assyrian empire had collapsed, the last great group of Semitic peoples. Together with Aramaean groups, they had ruled Babylonia under Assyrian overlordship for about a century and a half, but did not gain true power until the Assyrians were ripe for defeat. Then they proved themselves to be every bit as powerful as the Assyrians had been, even down to forcing captive peoples to migrate en-masse. Unfortunately, Babylonia never quite quashed pro-Assyrian feeling within its empire, and in 556 BC a pro-Assyrian king came to the throne, spelling disaster for the empire.

The three main Chaldaean groups were Bit-Dakkuri between Babylon and Nippur, Bit-Amukani between Nippur and Uruk, and Bit-Jakin in the marshy south. While their empire was a strong one, it also faced opposition from a resurgent Egypt in the west, various states in Anatolia, and invasions from the north by Scythians and Cimmerians. The state's archives have not been preserved, so the fine detail of Babylonian rule in the empire has been lost.

(Additional information by Jo Amdahl, and from Empire of Gold: Foundations, Jo Amdahl, with reference to a large number of original and secondary sources that are included in the 'Persia and Eastwards' section of the Sources page.)

629 - 611 BC

Nabopolasser (Nabūaplaus.ur)

Chaldean.

626 - 612 BC

Nabopolasser revolts against his weakened Assyrian overlords, a conflict which ends with the invasion of Assyria in 616 BC and the sacking of Ninevah in 612 BC by Babylonian, Scythian, and Median forces. Babylonia gains many of the former Assyrian territories, including in Syria and Phoenicia, but leaves those in the Iranian Plateau to the Medes.

Oxus Treasure chariot
The Oxus Treasure contains this Persian model of a Median war chariot, although it is only pulled by two horses rather that the customary four.

Cyaxares of the Medes is the first to develop an organised cavalry with divisions which can act together and in conjunction with other units. It is this innovation that gives him the advantage over the Scythians and breaks their hold over his land. Nabopolassar begins integrating cavalry into his army when Cyaxares shows the king what they can achieve (a treaty exists between the two peoples, and their armies are influenced by one another). Nabopolassar's son, Nebuchadnezzar, later employs a large organised force of cavalry. In his turn, Cyaxares begins using the heavier Assyro-Babylonian-style chariots and presumably the faster, leggier horses that pull them.

611 - 605 BC

Necho

609 - 608 BC

Necho gains Tabal in Anatolia, and the following year deposes the king of Judah. The crown prince, Nebuchadnezzar, leads the Babylonian forces in Syria as he inflicts a serious defeat on the Egyptians at Carchemish in 605 BC.

604 - 562 BC

Nebuchadnezzar II (Nabūkudurrius.ur)

Son of Nabopolasser. Took the western end of Assyria.

587 BC

Nebuchadnezzar annexes many previously independent states in the west in his quest for complete dominance of Syria-Palestine. He subjugates Judah for its continued support of Egypt, and the Jewish exile period begins as thousands of their number are forced to move to Babylon. However, his siege of the Phoenician city of Tyre lasts for thirteen years.

FeatureIt is during this period that Nebuchadnezzar rebuilds a former temple as the Tower of Babel, carries out new construction work in the city of Ur, and excavates a great reservoir near Sippar. He also builds the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the 'Wonders of the Ancient World', in order to assuage the homesickness of his bride, Amyhia, for the mountains of Iran, where her father, the Median king Cyaxares, lives. Their marriage had been agreed a few years before Nebuchadnezzar ascended the throne in order to seal the alliance between Media and Babylon (according to Berosius - or Berossus - in his third century BC history of Babylon).

585 - 582 BC

Babylonia captures the kingdom of Ammon in about 585 BC, and Moab in 582 BC.

573 - 572 BC

Babylonia captures the city of Damascus and all of Phoenicia.

562 BC

The succession is problematic. Three kings rule after Nebuchadnezzar for a total of only six years, and two of them are assassinated. Finally a man of non-royal descent, Nabonidus, is placed on the throne.

562 - 560 BC

Amźl Marduk / Evil-Merodach

560 - 556 BC

Nergalsharusur / Neriglissar

557 - 556 BC

Nergalsharusur annexes Cilicia.

556 BC

Labashi Marduk

556 - 539 BC

Nabonidus / Nabūna'id / Nabo-Naid)

Pro-Assyrian. Son of king of Harran.

554/553 BC

The Assyrian-occupied city of Hamath is the target of an attack by Nabonidus. In 552 BC, Nabonidus moves his capital to Teima, deep in Kedarite territory. They are a people with whom he has good relations, and the place feels safer to him than Babylon.

546 BC

Babylonia loses Tabal to the Persians, as they conquer much of Anatolia.

539 BC

Nabonidus angers the Babylonians by trying to reintroduce Assyrian culture, including placing the moon god Sin above Babylon's Marduk in terms of importance. Perhaps because of that, resistance to Cyrus the Great of Persia, when he enters Babylonia from the east, is limited to just one major battle, near the confluence of the Diyala and Tigris rivers. On 12/13 October (sources vary), Babylon is occupied by Cyrus, who adopts an enlightened approach to his subjects, and allows the captive Judeans to return home.

Achaemenid palace decoration at Babylon
Achaemenid (Persian Empire) palace decoration at Babylon

Despite the fall of Babylon itself to the Persians, it is entirely possible that pockets of resistance remain - or at least areas in which Persian overlordship is tacitly acknowledged while local rule is maintained on a semi-independent basis, at least for a time. The Chaldeans who had provided Babylon's last dynasty of kings may be one such case. Although specific details are not recorded, the Book of Daniel seems to retain a memory of this in Belshar-uzur and Darius the Mede (the latter especially). Belshar-uzur is the son of Nabonidus and may legitimately claim to be the true successor to the throne even though he holds no power and doesn't have the resources to enforce his claim.

Darius the Mede is much harder to authenticate. Depending upon the identification of Ahasuerus (a St James Bible translation of the Greek and Old Persian Xerxes and Xšayārša respectively), Amyhia, daughter of Cyaxares of Media, may possibly be his aunt. He is referred to as the king of the Chaldeans (but perhaps only after the fall of Babylon's last king). His most famous act is to throw Daniel into the lion's den, and he is apparently aged sixty-two when he is made king over the Chaldeans ('made' seemingly meaning that he does not claim the kingship himself but is offered it).

However, he is not attested anywhere outside the Bible. This could be political, of course, as the Persians would be keen on stamping their control over the entire region even while possibly tolerating local rule in their name. Darius has been linked with several other, historically attested, rulers, including Cyrus the Great himself, occupier of Babylon, but the Bible clearly differentiates between the two people. A key point to remember is that the book of Daniel had been written by a Jew who was part of the Hebrew exile, living a life of captivity in Babylon until freed by Cyrus in 539 BC, making it a contemporary (and very local!) account, and therefore perfectly placed to record details that may be lost to later Greek authors. The most likely explanation is that Cyrus permits the existence of client kingdoms of limited duration, just as the Roman empire does in newly conquered territories many centuries later.

Belshar-uzur / Bel-ŝarra-Uzur

Son. The Belshazzar of the Book of Daniel.

fl c. 539 BC

Darius the Mede

'King of the Chaldeans' in the Book of Daniel.

c.500 - 323 BC

Babylonia is governed as a satrapy of the Persian empire, and most administrative posts are retained under the Greek empire of Alexander the Great, including the satrapies of Mesopotamia.

Greek Babylonia

The Argead were the ruling family and founders of Macedonia who reached their greatest extent under Alexander the Great and his two successors before the kingdom broke up into several Hellenic sections. Alexander's successors held no real power, being mere figureheads for the generals who really held control of Alexander's empire. In Babylonia that was mainly Seleucus.

332 - 323 BC

Alexander III the Great

King of Macedonia. Conquered Persia.

323 - 317 BC

Philip III Arrhidaeus

Feeble-minded half-brother of Alexander the Great.

317 - 310 BC

Alexander IV of Macedonia

Infant son of Alexander the Great and Roxana.

323 - 320 BC

Archon

Greek satrap of Babylonia.

320 - 305 BC

Alexander's general, Seleucus, governs Persia during the period of the Diadochi Wars, although the Empire of Antigonus captures areas of his rule between 315-312 BC.

320 - 315 BC

Seleucus

Greek satrap of Babylonia.

315 - 312 BC

The Empire of Antigonus captures Babylonia during the period of the Diadochi Wars.

312 - 305 BC

Seleucus

Greek satrap of Babylonia.

305 - 126 BC

Seleucus declares himself king of Syria and Babylonia, and the Seleucid empire is created. Seleucid control of the region, first from Babylonia and then from Antioch in Syria, lasts until 126 BC.

126 BC

The Parthians take Babylonia, killing Seleucid king Demetrius in the process. The Seleucids are left with nothing but Syria.

AD 284

Sassanid Persia makes a treaty with Rome that hands over Mesopotamia as a Roman province.