First Dynasty of Babylon (Old Babylonia)

First Dynasty of Babylon (Old Babylonia) (1894–1595 B.C.E.)

Around 1894 B.C.E., Babylon was taken over by Amorite kings, one of whom built a large wall around the city. When the Amorite ruler Hammurabi, sixth to head the dynasty, came to power in Babylon (r. 1848–1806 B.C.E.), it was still a mid-sized city-state whose claim to fame rested on the fact that its inhabitants had built at least two temples dedicated to the gods.

The city was hemmed in on practically all sides by rival dynasties, especially that of Shamsi-Adad in Ashur, that of Isin-Larsa, as well as those of other rulers in northern Syria. Hammurabi had to wait for close to 29 years to expand his hold of First Dynasty of Babylon (Old Babylonia) (1894–1595 B.C.E.) Around 1894 B.C.E., Babylon was taken over by Amorite kings, one of whom built a large wall around the city.

When the Amorite ruler Hammurabi, sixth to head the dynasty, came to power in Babylon (r. 1848–1806 B.C.E.), it was still a mid-sized city-state whose claim to fame rested on the fact that its inhabitants had built at least two temples dedicated to the gods. The city was hemmed in on practically all sides by rival dynasties, especially that of Shamsi-Adad in Ashur, that of Isin-Larsa, as well as those of other rulers in northern Syria. Hammurabi had to wait for close to 29 years to expand his hold of

The Assyro-Babylonian Empire formed a Semitic state built on a Sumerian foundation. Under Hammurabi, Babylon became the most signifi cant city in the region and held its own as a cultural, and often political, capital for close to 1,500 years, down to the time of Alexander the Great. Hammurabi promoted the cult of the god Marduk, the deity of Babylon, and himself as supreme master of southern Mesopotamia along with Marduk.

Cities far and wide had to acknowledge the supremacy of both ruler and deity in everything from ceremonial rituals to everyday affairs. Assyrologist Stephanie Dalley notes that the greeting sent from one provincial ruler to another in Hammurabi’s time began with the customary, “May Shamash and Marduk grant you long life,” signifying the by-now standard insertion of Marduk among the Mesopotamian pantheon of gods (Dalley 2002, 44).

Such was the solidity of the state built by Hammurabi that the fi ve kings who succeeded him each ruled for no less than 20 years, a “situation that is usually indicative of political stability” (Van De Mieroop 2004, 111). The dynasty came to an end, however, in 1595 B.C.E. when Hittites from Anatolia (central Turkey) under King Mursili sacked Babylon.