About time

"What time is it?" is a question that probably no ancient Mesopotamian ever asked. In fact, there was not even a word for time, at least for the abstract notion of time, and a philosophical discourse about the matter is also lacking. Yet, that does not mean that they did not express time. What comes … Continue reading About time

A Concise History of Mesopotamia (12): the Late Babylonian period (484 BC – 80 CE)

The Persian conquest of Babylonia in 539 BC did not constitute a substantial break in Babylonian society. It is true that the Persians exercised high fiscal pressure on the local economic players, but the thriving socio-economic system of the Neo-Babylonian period remained largely intact. That changed, however, in the year 484 BC. The End of … Continue reading A Concise History of Mesopotamia (12): the Late Babylonian period (484 BC – 80 CE)

A Concise History of Mesopotamia (11): the Long Sixth Century (626-484 BC)

After centuries of political turmoil in Babylonia, the Assyrians seized control of the weakened territory in the first centuries of the first millennium BC. However, resistance remained, especially in the south, where Chaldean tribes were in power. It is from there that a strong new dynasty arose, which put an end to Babylonia's inferior position … Continue reading A Concise History of Mesopotamia (11): the Long Sixth Century (626-484 BC)

A Concise History of Mesopotamia (10): the Neo-Assyrian period (911-609 BC)

At the beginning of the first millennium BC, Assyria was dominated by Aramean tribes, who invaded the region en masse and weakened the once great empire. For more than a century, no ruler was strong enough to push them back and famine and poverty raged in the land. It was only at the beginning of … Continue reading A Concise History of Mesopotamia (10): the Neo-Assyrian period (911-609 BC)

A Concise History of Mesopotamia (9): the Middle-Assyrian period (ca. 1500-1000 BC)

While it is possible to reconstruct the history of southern Mesopotamia throughout the second millennium BC - in spite of the many lacunae in our sources - we are quite unable to do the same for Assyria: the period between the reign of Ishme-Dagan (1781-1741) and that of Puzur-Ashur III (1521-1498) is so badly documented … Continue reading A Concise History of Mesopotamia (9): the Middle-Assyrian period (ca. 1500-1000 BC)

A Concise History of Mesopotamia (8): Kassite Babylonia (1595-1155 BC)

After the Hittites under Mursili I sacked Babylon and retreated, the city and its environment were left without a ruler. In the south of Babylonia, the so-called Sealand Dynasty (or Second Dynasty of Babylon) came to power, cutting off the rest of Mesopotamia from the trade routes going over the Persian Gulf to India. Probably … Continue reading A Concise History of Mesopotamia (8): Kassite Babylonia (1595-1155 BC)

A Concise History of Mesopotamia (7): Old Babylonian period (1800-1600 BC)

From the political turmoil that marked the first two centuries of the second millennium BC emerged a strong dynasty, which managed to conquer a vast empire. The most prominent figure of this time was Hammurabi, who would be remembered throughout Babylonian history. Yet, the dynasty's sudden rise to power under this ruler resulted in an … Continue reading A Concise History of Mesopotamia (7): Old Babylonian period (1800-1600 BC)

A Concise History of Mesopotamia (6): ca. 2000-1800 BC

Around 2000 BC the Ur III-empire disintegrated into smaller political units. In the south of Mesopotamia, some rulers managed to continue along the same ideological path of their Ur III-predecessor, although on a much smaller scale. Assyria, on the other hand, focused its attention on long distance trade, thus laying a firm basis for what … Continue reading A Concise History of Mesopotamia (6): ca. 2000-1800 BC