This book presents a strikingly-illustrated short introduction to Babylon, a powerful and sophisticated ancient city and the home of the fabled Hanging Gardens of Nebuchadnezzar, one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Over the centuries Babylon was lost to view, and survived only in a rich and bizarre set of half-fantastical stories and traditions, until painstaking archaeological work uncovered the real city once more. The city of Babylon flourished for nearly 2,000 years on the River Euphrates in what is now central Iraq. After its conquest by the Persians in 539 BC it slowly faded from prominence and over time was lost from the historical record almost completely. One of the greatest cities of the ancient world lived on only in popular belief and legend. Amalgamating fact and fantasy, stories about the city and the kings of Babylon survived through the Middle Ages into modern times and were the inspiration for many pieces of art and literature in Europe between the 17th and 19th centuries. The Tower of Babel the Madness of Nebuchadnezzar the Writing on the Wall the Hanging Gardens of Babylon Daniel in the Lions Den - such stories and images grew famous over the years, while the city itself became little more than a name. However, the real city and its kings have re-emerged into the light thanks to the endeavours of many scholars and archaeologists in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today we can visualise a splendid city of massive walls (once counted among the Seven Wonders of the World), towering pyramid-shaped temples, vast royal palaces and gardens, and monumental gateways. Festivals and processions dedicated to the gods passed along streets lined with colourful glazed-brick reliefs of lions and mythical beasts. The glory of Babylon was expressed not only in physical buildings but also in the learning and scholarship of the city. Babylonian achievements in mathematics, astronomy and medicine had far-reaching effects on the Classical world and even on our own times we get our sixty-minute hours from Babylonia. This city of real wonders is brought back to life in these colourful pages.
British Museum Press
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