In world historical past class, college students usually be taught that human civilization arose in Mesopotamia — the so-called “Fertile Crescent” — and in the identical breath, many lecturers dive into the historical past of Babylon. However are Mesopotamia and Babylon the identical factor?
The reply is not any, they aren’t the identical; in brief, Mesopotamia is a area, and Babylon was an historical metropolis (and later the middle of an empire) inside that area.
The phrase Mesopotamia is an historical Greek identify that’s usually translated as “the land between two rivers” — the rivers being the Euphrates and the Tigris, each of which originate in jap Turkey and stream south to the Persian Gulf. In line with early Greek sources, the time period Mesopotamia “was used for the Syrian Jazirah [part of northeast Syria] and later for the land between Tigris and Euphrates,” Lorenzo Verderame, an affiliate professor of Assyriology at Sapienza College of Rome, informed Dwell Science in an electronic mail.
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Right now, Mesopotamia falls into a number of nations: Iraq, jap Syria, southeast Turkey, components of western Iran and Kuwait. A few of humanity’s earliest farmers arrange store in Mesopotamia as a result of the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers ceaselessly flooded, forsaking nutrient-rich soil that helped crops thrive. And some millennia in the past, Mesopotamia was dwelling to among the earliest identified cities and empires.
In about 4000 B.C. the Sumerians had been the primary identified civilization to come up within the area, and are named after the traditional metropolis of Sumer, which was a number of miles south of the fashionable metropolis of Kut in jap Iraq. The Sumerians constructed towering temples often known as ziggurats, had a written language, developed irrigation and had a posh pantheon of deities, Dwell Science beforehand reported. Because the Sumerian civilization went into decline, Babylon grew to become an influential metropolis close to the Euphrates River that lasted from about 2000 B.C. to 540 B.C.
The Babylonians achieved exceptional feats, together with the publication of Hammurabi’s code of regulation and the creation of the beautiful (if the tales are true) Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The traditional denizens of Babylon additionally developed trigonometry and tracked Jupiter‘s actions with mathematical fashions, Dwell Science beforehand reported.
At occasions, Babylon was on the heart of a giant empire. This empire reached its biggest extent through the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar II (reign 605 B.C. to 562 B.C.), when it stretched from the Persian Gulf to the borders of present-day Egypt. Generally, the time period “Babylonia” is used to confer with the broader space that Babylon managed or had affect over.
Nonetheless, different empires additionally rose and fell throughout the historical Mesopotamian world. The Assyrian Empire, whose well-known cities included Nineveh, Ashur and Nimrud, flourished at occasions from round 2000 B.C. to round 600 B.C., and clashed with the Babylonains within the thirteenth century B.C. and seventh century B.C. Many different empires held giant quantities of territory in Mesopotamia, together with the Persian Empire (from 550 B.C. to 330 B.C.), the Parthian Empire (247 B.C. to A.D. 224), the short-lived empire of Alexander the Nice within the fourth century B.C. and the Seleucid Empire (312 B.C. to 63 B.C.).
So if Babylon and Mesopotamia aren’t the identical factor, why does this false impression exist? A Dwell Science reporter requested specialists to get their tackle the matter.
It is doable that as a result of historical Egypt captures extra curiosity among the many trendy public than different historical locations within the Center East, folks’s basic data about Mesopotamia and Babylon will get little consideration, Frederick Bohrer, professor of artwork at Hood School in Maryland, informed Dwell Science in an electronic mail. Bohrer has studied how folks in nineteenth century Europe imagined Mesopotamia.
“Egypt dominates the creativeness of so many, and there may be little area for the remainder of the Historical Close to East,” Bohrer stated. Moreover some folks lack geographical and historic data in regards to the area, Bohrer stated.
For some folks, Babylon could be the solely location in Mesopotamia that they’ve heard of. “For these not aware of the world, Babylon could possibly be the one geographical phrase they know, and so they assume it refers to an space larger than a metropolis,” Agnès Garcia Ventura, a fellow at within the Division of Antiquity and Center Age Research on the Autonomous College of Barcelona, informed Dwell Science in an electronic mail. Ventura additionally famous that folks could get confused when the time period “Babylonia” is used, and might imagine that it means Mesopotamia.
Initially printed on Dwell Science.