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Ancient Babylonia's Legacy Essay

1752 words - 8 pages

Babylonia - one of the most widely renowned ancient civilisations to have ever existed. Known for its impressive walls and buildings and its reputation as a great seat of learning and culture the unique lifestyle and cultural beliefs of the Babylonians still interest historians and compel the world to this day, with their vast legacy still standing over 3000 years onwards.

In the 2nd millennium BC, Mesopotamia (an ancient cultural region where Babylonia once stood) was known as the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’. Framed by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and the fertile land surrounding, Mesopotamia was a key area for change and development in the ancient Middle East. It included many ...view middle of the document...

Scientific advancements progressed rather well - among other things, the earliest calendar, the idea of the 60-minute hour, and the advance multiplication table were all invented. They also displayed knowledge of the Pythagorean theorem well before Pythagoras, as evidenced by a tablet dating to approximately 1900 BC. It reads:

“4 is the length and 5 is the diagonal. What is the breadth? Its size is not known. 4 times 4 is 16. And 5 times 5 is 25. You take 16 from 25 and there remains 9. What times what shall I take in order to get 9? 3 times 3 is 9. 3 is the breadth.”

Babylonia used two languages - a language for trade and communication called Akkadian & the Sumerian for religious written purposes. The ancient cuneiform system of pressing triangular shapes into soft clay with a stylus was used to write. This language was formed around the idea that there were different symbols for each sound - words would be put together by compiling all symbols for all sounds in a word. This image should give you a basic understanding of this theory:

It was very important to be able to read and write in ancient Babylonia. There were libraries in most towns, with books regularly detailing floods thought to be caused by sin, and adventurous journeys of discovery. Women as well as men learnt to read and write, in both languages used by the Babylonians.

Babylonian architecture was well ahead of its time, and they were very resourceful builders. Mesopotamia had only clay for use in building, so Babylonia took the initiative to import wooden supports from Lebanon, and eventually started baking their bricks to improve the strength of their buildings. In particular, houses in Babylon often had open roofs so that on hot nights the family could sleep there. Living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens were downstairs, often branching off from a centred room of the most activity. Lamps burned with olive oil and every home had a chapel for burial and worship ceremonies.

The religion and cultural beliefs of the ancient Babylonians was greatly influenced by the Sumerians, an older city-state of Mesopotamia that Babylonia took much of their lifestyle from. Babylonian mythology was a set of stories depicting the activities of deities, heroes and mythological creatures. They served a social, political and ceremonial purpose to the Babylonians and at times tried to explain natural phenomena. They were a polytheistic society, meaning they worshipped several deities - with some examples being Marduk (patron deity of the city of Babylon, associated with water, vegetation, judgment and magic), Anu (god of heaven, king of gods, spirits and demons), Tiamat (goddess of the ocean and chaos) and Abzu (god of fresh water).

Many of the stories in the Tanakh (the canon of the Hebrew Bible) are believed to have been based on the mythological tales of Mesopotamia. The ritual care and worship of statues of deities was a very important, sacred part of the Babylonian...

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