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Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Mesopotamia


MapBabylonian Empire (Old Babylonian Period) / Dynasty I
c.1792 - 1595 BC

The small Semitic-speaking 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, and from the Book of Jubilees (otherwise known as the Lesser Genesis (Leptogenesis), by unknown ancient Jewish religious authors).)


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, Terah, who, six generations later, departs from Ur around c.1752 BC. As Terah 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). It is Nimrod who is claimed as the would-be builder of a great tower in Babylon, the 'Tower of Babel'. The story is used to explain the existence of many different and sometimes non-mutually-comprehensible languages in the ancient world.

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


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


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


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. It takes Hammurabi until about 1761 BC to fully conquer former Sumerian Mesopotamia, but the importance of that conquest suggests that he starts conquering Syrian city states almost as soon as the kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia collapses. He is known to capture the city of Qatna during his reign.

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 BC

Shinar, or Sennaar, is equated with Babylon, making the king identifiable with Hammurabi, although this theory appears to be falling out of favour with many scholars.

King Amraphel of Shinar is allied with 'Chedorlaomer' of Elam (probably King Kudur Lagamar), plus 'Arioch of Ellasar' (originally thought to be Rim-Sin of Larsa, but now thought more likely to be the early Hurrian King Ariukki), and 'Tidal, king of nations' (probably the Hittite king, Tudhaliya I, with the 'nations' probably being the recently-conquered Hatti).

Together they attack the early Israelites during a general conflict. After twelve years of paying tribute, several Canaanite 'cities of the plain' rebel and need to be brought back into line. These are the five cities of the Vale of Siddim which are mentioned in the Old Testament. Chedorlaomer also attacks the Rephaim and defeats them, while the Horites are said to be members of the coalition which includes Sodom and Gomorrah, and they are similarly defeated.

c.1750 - 1712 BC



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


c.1684 - 1647 BC



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

c.1647 - 1626 BC

Ammi-zaduga / Ammisaduqa


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


c.1683 - 1657 BC


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

c.1657 - 1642 BC


c.1642 - 1618 BC


c.1618 - 1592 BC


c.1592 - 1580 BC


Name questionable as the list tablet is damaged.

c.1580 - 1530 BC


c.1530 - 1502 BC


c.1502 - 1476 BC


c.1476 - 1469 BC


c.1469 - 1460 BC


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


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.


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


? - 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 Amarna letters.

1375 - 1347 BC

Burnaburiash II

A correspondent in the Egyptian Amarna letters.

In the Egyptian Amarna 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.

Burnaburiash also complains to Egypt that its vassals, Surata of Akko and Šum-Hadda of Shimron, have raided his caravan. The outcome is unknown, but the letter illustrates the importance of Shimron in terms of raiding and trading, and Akko in providing support and imperial irritation.

1347 - 1345 BC


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


Pretender. (Not in the Georges Roux list.)

1345 - 1324 BC

Kurigalzu II

Raised by Ashur-Uballit I of Assyria.

1323 - 1298 BC


c.1320 BC

The Kassites briefly occupy Elam.

1297 - 1280 BC


1279 - 1265 BC

Kadashman-Enlil II

1265 - 1255 BC


1255 - 1243 BC


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


Assyrian puppet.

1223 BC

Kadashman-Harbe II

Assyrian puppet.

1222 - 1217 BC


Assyrian puppet.

1217 BC

A Kassite rebellion throws off Assyrian control.

1216 - 1187 BC


1186 - 1172 BC

Melishipak / Meli-Shipak

1171 - 1159 BC

Marduk-apal-iddina I

1158 BC


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


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) 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


1146 - 1132 BC


c.1138 BC

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

1132 - 1126 BC


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. Nebuchadnezzar also claims to subdue the 'land of Lullubi' in the north.

1103 - 1100 BC


1100 - 1082 BC


1082 - 1069 BC


1069 - 1046 BC


1046 BC


(Not in the Georges Roux list.)

1046 - 1033 BC


1033 - 1025 BC


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


1008 BC


(Not in the Georges Roux list.)

1008 - 1004 BC


(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


(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


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 Arab 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.

(Additional information from Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East, Martti Nissinen, Robert Kriech Ritner, & Choon Leong Seow (Society of Biblical Literature, 2003), and from Ancient Assyria, C H W Johns (Cambridge University Press, 2012).)

977 - 943 BC


971 - 970 BC

Festivals are suspended in Babylonia due to Aramaean invasions.

943 BC

Ninurta-kudurri-usur II


942 - c.920 BC


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

c.920 - 900 BC


899? - 888? BC


887? - 855 BC



The presence of a ruler by the name of Marduk-suma-iddin in the city of Gan Dunias points to a good degree of Babylonian influence there. Babylonia is replete with 'Marduk-' royal names during this period, so perhaps this helps to narrow down the location of that city within Syria. In fact, as Kar-Dunias, the city can even be equated with Babylon itself. The standard kingship lists fails to show him though, so perhaps he is a rival. It would also appear that he is challenged for the throne during his reign, by one Marduk-bila-Yu'sate.

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


813 - 811 BC


811 - c.800 BC

(Five unknown rulers)

c.800 - c.790 BC


c.790 - 780 BC


c.780 - 769 BC


769 - 761 BC


760 - 748 BC


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.

(Additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983).)

747 - 734 BC

(Nabonassar) Nabu-nasir

The earliest certain regnal date in Babylonia.

734 BC

Perhaps two centuries after their first arrival in the region, the Chaldaeans have become a dominant group in southern Mesopotamia. They now occupy Babylon, replacing the previous mixture of different peoples at the top of the power structure.

Whilst Babylon was not perhaps at this time the great city it once had been and would again be, it was still one of the biggest, most heavily-populated centres of population in the ancient world of the early first millennium (click or tap on image to view full sized)

734 - 732 BC


(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.

With his death, many of the former subject states rebel, especially Chaldaeans and neighbouring groups. Amongst the rebels are listed the Hagaranu (possibly the descendants of Hagar, the mother of Ismael), the Nabatu (very possibly the descendants of Nebayoth, the eldest son of the same Ismael), and the Kedarites (descendants of Ismael's second son). According to the records, these tribes flee from Assyria into the Arabian Desert and cannot be conquered. With the recapture of Babylon a priority, it takes the Assyrians until 701 BC to get around to quelling similar rebellions in Judah and the Phoenician states.

703 BC

Marduk-zakir-shumi II

Reigned for a few weeks. Overthrown.

703 BC

Sennacherib retakes Babylon from Marduk-zakir-shumi, but only briefly before 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.

700? BC

Marduk-apla-idinna III

Probably Marduk-apla-idinna II.

699 - 694 BC


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


(Name not in the Georges Roux list.)

693 - 689 BC



692/691 BC

Khumma-Menanu of Elam king leads a coalition of states against Assyrian king Sennacherib at the Battle of Halule on the Tigris. With him is Mushezib-Marduk of Babylon, the minor kingdom of Ellipi (roughly located in Luristan, to the immediate west of Elam), and the kingdom of Anshan which seems able to be able to call on the Parsua or Parsuash (Persians). Anshan has often - but not always - been part of Elam itself, but it may be ruled by a subsidiary line at this time. The location of the battle suggests a march by the allies towards the heart of Assyrian-dominated territory. The outcome is not decisive, and does not prevent Sennacherib from devastating Babylon itself following a fifteen month-long siege, although it does protect Elam.

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


Son of Esarhaddon of Assyria. Rebelled and was defeated.

652 - 649 BC

Shamash-shumi-ukin rebels against his brother in the Assyrian kingdom. Ashurbanipal soon besieges Babylon, bringing it back into the empire. Rebellions in support of Babylon by the Kedarites and Nabatu are also put down, possibly prior to Babylon's recapture. It takes two years of direct rule before a puppet ruler of Babylon is placed on the throne.

647 - 627 BC


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 in 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


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 ancient 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, from Empire of Gold: Foundations, Jo Amdahl, from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from External Link: Encyclopaedia Iranica, and 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 (Nabûaplaus.ur)


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 than 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


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. However, the Egyptians manage to hold onto Megiddo in northern Canaan.

604 - 562 BC

Nebuchadnezzar II (Nabûkudurrius.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 Diaspora is created as thousands of their number are forced to move to Babylon. However, his siege of the Phoenician city of Tyre lasts for thirteen years.

Nebuchadnezzar II of Neo-Babylonia
Nabûkudurrius.ur, better known as Nebuchadnezzar II of Neo-Babylonia, gradually built up an empire which was based on seizing former Assyrian subject territories

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 Damas 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. At some point Babylon may lose control of some of its outlier regions. There is the possibility that the Lullubians restore their formerly-independent kingship, although this depends upon an identification with them in connection with the conquests of Cyrus the Great of Persia.

562 - 560 BC

Amêl Marduk / Evil-Merodach

560 - 556 BC

Nergalsharusur / Neriglissar

557 - 556 BC

Nergalsharusur annexes Cilicia.

556 BC

Labashi Marduk

556 - 539 BC

Nabonidus / Nabûna'id / Nabo-Naid

Pro-Assyrian. Son of king of Harran. Sent to Karmana.

556 BC

Cilicia has already been invaded and annexed by King Nergalsharusur, although some sources state that Cilicia's King Appuashu resists him. In fact, Cilician resistance to Babylonian occupation now forces Nabonidus to re-invade Cilicia at the start of his reign, marking it out as an urgent priority case. Despite being conquered anew, Cilicia remains an unwilling partner in the empire.

554/3 - 552 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.

According to the Greek writer, Berossus (author of the Babyloniaka (The Babylonian History), now lost but quoted by later writers), Nabonidus is granted a residency in Karmana (to the east of Persis) as its satrap. Babylon itself now forms a satrapy in its own right.

Persian Satraps of Babirush (Babylonia)
Incorporating the Satraps of Arbelitis & Sittacene

Conquered by Cyrus the Great in 539 BC, the empire of Babylonia was added to the Persian empire. Under the Persians, it was formed into a great satrapy known as Babirush (alternatively shown as Bābiruš - the 'š' produces an 'sh' sound). The satrapy's borders largely followed those of the former Babylonian empire, at least at first. As in the case of Sardis, so far as the family relations are known, only princes of the Achaemenid family and members of the families of the conspirators who aided Darius the Great were installed as satraps in what was now Babirush (Babylon). This was generally the case in all of the great satrapies. The post was not an hereditary one, though, unlike some of the minor satrapies.

The main satrapy of Athura (former Assyria) belonged to the great satrapy of Babylonia. Thanks to its close association with Babylonia, the two names were used almost synonymously (certainly by Herodotus and Strabo). Babylon's rank during the Achaemenid period (and beyond) and the status of officials who were installed there suggests that Babylonia was the superior great satrapy. On the occasion of the rebellion of Megabyzus in Ebir-nāri, the satrap of Babylonia was responsible for its suppression. This alone proves its higher hierarchical rank, as does the fact that Alexander the Great settled matters relating to Assyria in Babylon. It was also Strabo who reported (accurately) that Athura consisted of (old) Assyria along with Khilakku, Syria, and Phoenicia. Therefore Megabyzus and other holders of his office were satraps of all of these (often with junior satraps governing each region directly).

Available sources for the minor satrapies which were subservient to Babirush are scanty, although one of them may have been Sittacene, which both Curtius and Diodorus refer to as a satrapy or eparchy (a province, now a term more usually used in the Orthodox church). Sittacene was a region around the city of Sittace, located on the road from Babylon to Susa, so this minor satrapy would have flanked Babylon on its eastern side. Better attested is Arbelitis and its chief settlement, Arbela, in which Alexander captured money as booty after the Battle of Gaugamela. Arbela (the modern Iraqi city of Erbil in Kurdistan) was also the capital of the district which revolted against Darius the Great under the leadership of Ciçantaxma of Asagarta (Sagartia). Following the rebellion's suppression, Darius subsumed his deeds against Ciçantaxma within Media as a whole, suggesting that the region belonged to Media at the time. This evidently changed not very long afterwards, and no later than by the mid-fifth century BC it was transferred to Babylonia's jurisdiction.

Arabia around the oasis of Taymāʾ, which had belonged to the Babylonian empire, was only added to Persian holdings during Cambyses' Egyptian campaign of 525 BC - as Arabāya - and was, technically, added to the great satrapy of Mudrāya (Egypt). Later Syria seems to have been established as a satrapy in its own right under the name of Ebimari or Ebir-nāri (Babylonian) or Abar-Nahra (Aramaic-Persian) - 'beyond the river [Euphrates]'. Once Syria was stripped away from Athura, thereby lessening Babylonia's own importance, the post of Babylonian satrap was poorly attested. Where these are known, the Old Persian names are shown first, followed by Greek and other various interpretations. Although far from certain it may be the case that Darius the Great instigated changes after 516 BC so that Babylonia controlled only the area from the east of the Euphrates bend in northern Syria, to Assyria and Babylonia itself.

Persians & Medes

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from the Cyropaedia & Anabasis, Xenophon of Athens, from The Cambridge Ancient History, John Boardman, N G L Hammond, D M Lewis, & M Ostwald (Eds), from Nomadism in Iran: From Antiquity to the Modern Era, Daniel T Potts, from Alexander the Great, Krzysztof Nawotka (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), from Ancient and Modern Assyrians: A Scientific Analysis, George V Yana (Xlibris Corporation, 2008), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Iranica, and the Nabonidus Chronicle, contained within Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, A K Grayson (Translation, 1975 & 2000, and now available via Livius in an improved version).)

539 - 537? BC


Babylonian satrap of Mesopotamia, Ebir-nāri, & Phoenicia.

539 BC

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 Chaldaeans 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).

Achaemenid palace decoration at Babylon
This Achaemenid (Persian empire) palace decoration stood in the city of Babylon and was transported to Berlin upon being rediscovered by archaeologists in the twentieth century

fl c.539 BC

Belshar-uzur / Bel-ŝarra-Uzur

Son of Nabonidus. The Belshazzar of the Book of Daniel.

539 BC

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. He is apparently killed by Cyrus the Great even though his father is allowed to live, so he cannot be the otherwise unknown Babylonian satrap for the first couple of years of Persian rule before being replaced by Gaubaruva. Instead, as Cyrus allows existing offices to be retained at first, this post is probably still filled by its Neo-Babylonian incumbent.

fl c.539 BC

Darius the Mede

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

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 Chaldaeans (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 Chaldaeans ('made' seemingly meaning that he does not claim the kingship himself but is offered it).

However, he is not attested anywhere outside the Old Testament. 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 Old Testament clearly differentiates between the two people.

A key point to remember is that the book of Daniel is written by a Jew who is 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 which 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, but the possibility also exists that Darius the Mede is Gaubaruva, satrap of Babirush.

Daniel faces Darius the Mede
The Old Testament's Daniel is granted an audience with the 'king of the Chaldaeans', clearly a reference to Babylon and, possibly, its current ruler - or an inflation of a far more minor figure in the Persian hierarchy

537? - 522 BC

Gaubaruva / Gobryas / Gobares

Persian satrap of Babirush (Mesopotamia ) & Ebir-nāri.

537? BC

Gaubaruva is appointed as the Persian satrap of Babirush, but perhaps only after a Babylonian has held the post for a couple of years. He is known by a whole host of interpretations of his name, from the Old Persian Gaubaruva or the Akkadian Gubaru, to the Greek Gobryas, and the Latin Gobar(es). He can also be equated with the Cyaxares of the Cyropaedia, but should not be confused with the General Ugbaru (Old Persian) or Gobryas (Greek) who aids Cyrus the Great in the conquest of Mesopotamia (a mistake made in the Grayson version of the Nabonidus Chronicle). Ugbaru may in fact govern the district or province of Gutium for a short time before dying, having already reached an advanced age.

524/522 BC

Gaubaruva seems to be powerful in his role as satrap of Babirush. No subsequent satrap seems to wield quite such extensive power. In 522 BC he is one of the seven co-conspirators who remove the 'usurper' Gaumata, from the Persian throne. Although far from certain, it may be the case that Darius the Great instigates changes after 516 BC so that the satrap of Babirush controls only the area from the east of the Euphrates bend in northern Syria, to Assyria and Babirush itself.

524? - 516 BC

Uštani / Ushtanni

Satrap of Babylonia (Mesopotamia) & Ebir-nāri.

522 BC


Claimant to the Babylonian throne. Defeated.

522 BC

Upon the execution of the Persian usurper, Smerdis, Nebuchadnezzar causes chaos in Babylon when he puts himself forward as a claimant to the Babylonian throne. The new Achaemenid king, Darius, deals with him before chasing down several other rebellions. On 13 December he forces a crossing of the Tigris and then wins a decisive battle on 18 December. Clearly Nebuchadnezzar has gained a sizeable following, but Darius enters Babylon and the rebellion is crushed.

Darius the Great of Persia
The central relief of the North Stairs of the Apadana in Persepolis, now in the Archaeological Museum in Tehran, shows Darius I (the Great) on his royal throne (External Link: Creative Commons Licence 4.0 International)

c.484 BC

Although any records to prove it have not survived, it would seem to be in this period, between about 490-482 BC, in which Ebir-nāri is created a satrapy in its own right, removing it from the administration of Babirush (Babylonia). The cause may well be the revolt which arises shortly after a greater revolt in Egypt. In fact tablets from Babylonia seem to show evidence of two risings by claimants to the Babylonian throne. The first uprising is that of Bel-shimanni, which can perhaps be dated to the high summer of 484 BC. This seems only to last a week or two before being put down.

484? BC


'King of Babylonia'. Rebel claimant. Presumed killed.

482 BC

All is still not well in Babirush (Babylonia). A second uprising is sparked when Shamash-eriba claims the city - and probably the former empire - as his own. This uprising is more serious than the last, enduring into the autumn of 482 BC. It is put down, probably by one of the soon-to-be Persian grand marshals, Megabyxos.

482 BC


'King of Babylonia'. Rebel claimant. Presumed killed.

Following the uprising's suppression, Xerxes removes 'King of Babylonia' from his own titles. The city is reduced in stature by this act, and the city walls and sanctuaries are slighted. The gold statue of Marduk is removed. In effect, Babirush is no longer a kingdom, merely a province of the Persian empire.

465 - c.447 BC

Megabyzus may hand over the satrapy of Ebir-nāri (possibly to his son) to go and deal with the rebellion in Mudrāya. Subsequently, the captured Egyptian prince, Inarus, is crucified along with fifty Athenian prisoners by Amestris, the queen mother. Megabyzus had negotiated an armistice with Inarus with promises of safe conduct and he now feels that his honour has been compromised. He returns to Ebir-nāri and proceeds to revolt.

As the region's superior commander - at least until very recently - the satrap of Babirush is responsible for the suppression of the revolt, but the able Megabyzus routs not one but two expeditions which are sent against him. Both commanders are wounded by him in person (just as Inarus had been), and he himself sustains a wound, all of which apparently satisfies honour and he is reconciled with the Persian king.

Babylon was forever diminished by its roles in two major uprisings in the fifth century BC and by its subsequent demotion in importance - even the arrival of the Greeks did not revive its fortunes (click or tap on image to view full sized)

fl c.450s BC


Son of Artabanos. Satrap of Babirush?

c.450s BC

Tritantaikhmes, son of Artabanos, who had been a marshal at the time of Xerxes' Greek expedition of 480 BC, can be placed here as satrap if his father's name should replace the Artabazos given by Herodotus. Father's names are rarely provided by other authors, so even this clue to the satrap's possible identity is a valuable one.

459 BC

Ezra, a 'scribe', leads the second body of exiled Israelites back to Jerusalem from Babylon. He also writes the Book of Ezra, and according to tradition collects and edits the books of the Old Testament.

fl 421 - 404? BC


Satrap of Babirush (Mesopotamia).

c.421 / 420 BC

This Gobryas could be the same figure as one of the four commanders-in-chief of the army of Artaxerxes II at the battle of Cunaxa in 401 BC as noted by Xenophon. As satrap of Babirush, Gobryas is named in several documents from the Murašû archive in Nippur which is dated to the years 421/420 BC to 417/416 BC. He probably remains in that office until the accession of Artaxerxes II in 404 BC - a prime time for reorganising officials.

fl 401 - ? BC


Satrap of Babirush (Mesopotamia).

c.421 / 420 BC

Roparas is assigned the position of satrap of Babirush (according to Yana and Cook). Nothing more appears to be said about him, but the seeming coincidence of having two satraps with the same name within seventy years suggests a degree of familial relationship, probably a grandson or great nephew.

fl mid-300s BC


Satrap of Babirush (Mesopotamia). Lost post to Greeks?

331 BC

At the Battle of Gaugamela, Darius' Persian units in the centre of the formation take heavy casualties, but the commander of one of those divisions, Ariobarzanes, satrap of Persis, is able to leave the battlefield with his king. Darius flees eastwards and the defence of each province is left to its satrap. Alexander seizes Babylon (where Xenophon lists Roparas as satrap) and Susa and, having gathered intelligence on Persis, he soon captures that too. Most administrative posts are retained under the Greek empire, including some of those in Mesopotamia.

The Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC
Alexander defeated the Persian king Darius III at the Battle of Gaugamela in Mesopotamia in 331 BC, with the victory giving him control of all the lands to the west of Iran - the lands to the east soon followed

330 - 329 BC

In 330 BC Suguda becomes part of the Greek empire despite the efforts of Bessus, self-styled 'king of Asia', to retain at least some of the Persian territories. His claim is legal, since Bakhtrish is traditionally commanded by the next-in-line to the throne and he has already murdered the former holder, Darius, but Persia has already been lost and his loose collection of eastern allies - which includes the other two most senior officials, Barsaentes of Harahuwatish and Satibarzanes of Haraiva - provides nothing more than a sideshow to the main event - the fall of Achaemenid Persia.

Argead Dynasty in 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. Following Alexander's conquest of central and eastern Persia in 331-328 BC, the Greek empire ruled the region until Alexander's death in 323 BC and the subsequent regency period which ended in 310 BC. Alexander's successors held no real power, being mere figureheads for the generals who really held control of Alexander's empire. Following that latter period and during the course of several wars, Babylonia was largely left in the hands of the Seleucid empire from 305 BC.

Babylonia was not unknown to the Greeks. Even during the Achaemenid period many Greeks travelled here, some as traders, some as Persian military allies and some, like Herodotus, on journeys of exploration. There seems not to have been a Greek community in Babylon before the Argead conquest, however. Herodotus appears to have had trouble in finding enough information to properly fill out his Babylonian entry (such as an account of the city's past kings). Babylonian business documents bear this out. People they often call Greeks in fact have Anatolian names. Nomenclature also bears this out, as the Greeks do not know the two great rivers of Mesopotamia by their universal regional names, Purat and Deklath, but from the Medo-Persian corruptions of them - Ufratush and Tigra (the modern Euphrates and Tigris).

Under the Persians, the main satrapy of Assyria had belonged to the great satrapy of Babylonia. Thanks to its close association with Babylonia, the two names were used almost synonymously (certainly by Herodotus and Strabo). Babylon's rank during the Achaemenid period (and beyond) and the status of officials who were installed there suggests that Babylonia was the superior great satrapy. On the occasion of the rebellion of Megabyzus in Ebir-nāri, the satrap of Babylonia was responsible for its suppression. This alone proves its higher hierarchical rank, as does the fact that Alexander the Great settled matters relating to Assyria in Babylon.

Alexander the Great

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Jewish War & Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from the Cyropaedia & Anabasis, Xenophon of Athens, from The Cambridge Ancient History, John Boardman, N G L Hammond, D M Lewis, & M Ostwald (Eds), from Ancient and Modern Assyrians: A Scientific Analysis, George V Yana (Xlibris Corporation, 2008), from Brill's Companion to Alexander the Great, Joseph Roisman (BRILL, 2002), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Appian's History of Rome: The Syrian Wars at Livius.org, and Diodorus of Sicily at the Library of World History (dead link), and Encyclopaedia Iranica, and the Nabonidus Chronicle, contained within Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, A K Grayson (Translation, 1975 & 2000, and now available via Livius in an improved version).)

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.

332 - 328 BC

Mazaeus / Mazdai

Satrap of Babylonia. Former Persian satrap of Athura. Died.

328 - 323 BC


Satrap of Babylonia (and Mesopotamia?). Died?

323 - 321 BC

Archon of Pella

Greek satrap of Babylonia & Susiana. Killed in battle.

322 - 320 BC

Immediately following Alexander's untimely death, Susiana is presumably governed by Archon, who holds Babylonia in the name of the titular successors to the empire. The First War of the Diadochi (the successors - the generals of Alexander's army) between 322-320 BC sees civil war break out between the generals, and Perdiccas, regent of Macedonia, is murdered by his own generals during an invasion of Egypt. Alexander's successor, Philip III, agrees terms with the murdering generals and appoints them as regents.

Map of Central Asia & Eastern Mediterranean 334-323 BC
Shown here is the route of Alexander's ongoing campaigns across the ancient world (click or tap on map to view full sized)

A new agreement with Antipater in 320 BC makes him regent of the Macedonian empire and commander of the European section. The Antigonids see their eponymous ruler remain in charge of Lycia and Pamphylia, to which is added Lycaonia, Syria and Phoenicia, making Antigonus commander of the Asian section. Ptolemy retains Egypt, Lysimachus retains Phrygia and Thrace, while the three murderers of Perdiccas - Seleucus, Peithon, and Antigenes - are given the former Persian provinces of Babylonia, Media, and Susiana respectively. Arrhidaeus, the former regent, receives Hellespontine Phrygia.

319 - 315 BC


Greek satrap of Babylonia. Fled Antigonus.

319 - 315 BC

The death of Antipater leads to the Second War of the Diadochi. Philip III is killed by his stepmother, Olympias, in 317 BC with her being killed by Cassander the following year. Cassander also captures Alexander IV and Roxana and installs a governor in Athens, subsuming its democratic system. Eumenes is defeated in Asia and murdered by his own troops, and Seleucus is forced to flee Babylon by Antigonus. In anger at that escape, Antigonus deposes Blitor, satrap of Mesopotamia (showing that the offices of Babylon and Mesopotamia have been detached from one another).

Babylon in 3D
Despite its gradual relegation as a place of importance in the face of the Greek preference for Seleucia, Babylon was still of huge importance in Mesopotamia, as can be seen in this unknown artist's impression of the city (click or tap on image to view full sized)

The result is that Cassander controls the European territories (including Macedonia), while the Antigonids control those in Asia (Asia Minor, centred on Lycia and extending as far as Susiana). Polyperchon remains in control of part of the Peloponnese.

315 - 312 BC


Greek satrap of Babylonia. Surrendered Babylon.

314 - 311 BC

The Third War of the Diadochi results because the Antigonids have grown too powerful in the eyes of the other generals, so Antigonus is attacked by Ptolemy (of Egypt), Lysimachus (of Phrygia and Thrace), Cassander (of Macedonia), and Seleucus (who is hoping to regain Babylonia). The latter indeed does secure Babylon and the others conclude peace terms with Antigonus in 311 BC. Antigonus' appointment as satrap of Media, Nicanor, is removed from his post by Seleucus, and it seems likely that the same happens in northern Mesopotamia.

312 - 305 BC


Greek satrap of Babylonia again. Became king (305 BC).

308 - 141 BC

The Fourth War of the Diadochi soon breaks out. In 306 BC Antigonus proclaims himself king, so the following year the other generals do the same in their domains. Polyperchon, otherwise quiet in his stronghold in the Peloponnese, dies in 303 BC and Cassander claims his territory. The war ends in the death of Antigonus at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC. Seleucus is now king of all Hellenic territory from Syria eastwards, and the Seleucid empire is created.

Battle of Ipsus
The Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC ended the drawn-out and destructive Wars of the Diadochi which decided how Alexander's empire would be divided

Seleucus founds the city of Seleucia in Mesopotamia by massively rebuilding and expanding an existing settlement. Alternatively known as Seleucia-on-Tigris, the city soon provides nearby Babylon with a major competitor and the latter begins to decline and empty, leading to its eventual abandonment. Seleucid control of the region is handled first from Babylonia, then from Seleucia, and finally from Antioch in Syria.

141 - 126 BC

The Parthians under the very able Mithradates I make the most of the Seleucid civil war by taking Media in 141 BC. In the same year Mithradates also captures Seleucia and then Uruk. Although it briefly loses Media and Babylonia to Antiochus VII in 130-129 BC, thereafter the Parthian empire retains its holdings in Mesopotamia (recapturing Babylonia in 126 BC), until it eventually breaks up. It leaves behind it a patchwork of kingdoms which remain in loose alliance with one another for a further two hundred years. In AD 284, Sassanid Persia makes a treaty with Rome which hands over Mesopotamia as a Roman province.

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