Babylonia

Babylonia (/ˌbæbəˈlniə/) was an ancient Akkadian-speaking Semitic nation state and cultural region based in central-southernMesopotamia (present-day Iraq). It emerged as an independent state c. 1894 BC, with the city of Babylon as its capital. It was often involved in rivalry with its fellow Akkadian state of Assyria in northern Mesopotamia. Babylonia became the major power in the region after Hammurabi (fl. c. 1792 – 1752 BC middle chronology, or c. 1696 – 1654 BC, short chronology) created an empire out of many of the territories of the former Akkadian Empire.
The Babylonian state retained the written Semitic Akkadian language for official use (the language of its native populace), despite its Amorite founders and Kassite successors not being native Akkadians. It retained the Sumerian language for religious use, but by the time Babylon was founded this was no longer a spoken language, having been wholly subsumed by Akkadian. The earlier Akkadian and Sumerian traditions played a major role in Babylonian (and Assyrian) culture, and the region would remain an important cultural center, even under protracted periods of outside rule.
The earliest mention of the city of Babylon can be found in a tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad (2334- 2279 BC), dating back to the 23rd century BC. Babylon was merely a religious and cultural centre at this point and not an independent state; like the rest of Mesopotamia, it was subject to the Akkadian Empire which united all the Akkadian and Sumerian speakers under one rule. After the collapse of the Akkadian empire, the south Mesopotamian region was dominated by the Gutians for a few decades before the rise of the Sumerian third dynasty of Ur, which encompassed the whole of Mesopotamia, including Babylon.
Babylon remained a minor territory for a century after it was founded, until the reign of its sixth Amorite ruler, Hammurabi (1792- 1750 BC, or fl. c. 1728 – 1686 BC (short). He conducted major building work in Babylon, expanding it from a minor town into a great city worthy of kingship. He was a very efficient ruler, establishing a bureaucracy, with taxation and centralized government. Hammurabi freed Babylon from Elamite dominance, and indeed drove them from southern Mesopotamia entirely. He then gradually expanded Babylonian dominance over the whole of southern Mesopotamia, conquering the cities and states of the region, such as; Isin, Larsa, Eshnunna, Kish, Lagash, Nippur, Borsippa, Ur,Uruk, Umma, Adab and Eridu. The conquests of Hammurabi gave the region stability after turbulent times and coalesced the patchwork of states of southern and central Mesopotamia into one single nation, and it is only from the time of Hammurabi that southern Mesopotamia came to be known historically as Babylonia.
The armies of Babylonia under Hammurabi were well-disciplined, he turned eastwards and invaded what was a thousand years later to become Persia (Iran), conquering the pre Iranic Elamites, Gutians and Kassites. To the west, the Semitic states of the Levant (modern Syria) including the powerful kingdom of Mari were conquered.
Hammurabi then entered into a protracted war with the Old Assyrian Empire for control of Mesopotamia and the Near East. Assyria had extended control over parts of Asia Minorfrom the 21st century BC, and from the latter part of the 19th century BC had asserted itself over north east Syria and central Mesopotamia also. After a protracted unresolved struggle over decades with the Assyrian king Ishme-Dagan, Hammurabi forced his successor Mut-Ashkur to pay tribute to Babylon c. 1751 BC, thus giving Babylonia control over Assyria’s centuries old Hattian and Hurrian colonies in Asia Minor.[5]
One of the most important works of this “First Dynasty of Babylon“, as it was called by the native historians, was the compilation of a code of laws which echoed and improved upon the earlier written laws of Sumer, Akkad and Assyria. This was made by order of Hammurabi after the expulsion of the Elamites and the settlement of his kingdom. In 1901, a copy of the Code of Hammurabi was discovered on a stele by J. De Morgan and V. Scheil at Susa, where it had later been taken as plunder. That copy is now in the Louvre.
From before 3000 BC until the reign of Hammurabi, the major cultural and religious center of southern Mesopotamia had been the ancient city of Nippur, where the god Enlil was supreme. However, with the rise of Hammurabi, this honour was transferred to Babylon, and the south Mesopotamian god Marduk rose to supremacy in the pantheon of southern Mesopotamia (with the god Ashur remaining the dominant deity in the northern Mesopotamian state of Assyria). The city of Babylon became known as a “holy city” where any legitimate ruler of southern Mesopotamia had to be crowned. Hammurabi turned what had previously been a minor administrative town into a major city, increasing its size and population dramatically, and conducting a number of impressive architectural works.
The Babylonians, like their predecessor Sumero-Akkadian states, engaged in regular trade with the Amorite and Canaanite city-states to the west; with Babylonian officials or troops sometimes passing to the Levant and Canaan, with Amorite merchants operating freely throughout Mesopotamia. The Babylonian monarchy’s western connections remained strong for quite some time. An Amorite chieftain named Abi-ramu or Abram (possibly the Biblical Abraham) was the father of a witness to a deed dated to the reign of Hammurabi’s grandfather;[citation needed] Ammi-Ditana, great-grandson of Hammurabi, still titled himself “king of the land of the Amorites”. Ammi-Ditana’s father and son also bore Canaanite names: Abi-Eshuh and Ammisaduqa.
In 620 BC Nabopolassar seized control over much of Babylonia with the support of most of the inhabitants, with only the city ofNippur and some northern regions showing any loyalty to the Assyrian king.[6] Nabopolassar was unable to yet utterly secure Babylonia, and for the next 4 years he was forced to contend with an occupying Assyrian army encamped in Babylonia trying to unseat him. However, the Assyrian king, Sin-shar-ishkun was plagued by constant revolt among his own people in Nineveh, and was thus unable to eject Nabopolassar.
The stalemate ended in 616 BC, when Nabopolassar entered into alliance with Cyaxares, king of the Medes and Persians, (who had also taken advantage of the Assyrian destruction of Elam and the subsequent anarchy in Assyria to free the Iranic peoples from three centuries of the Assyrian yoke and regional Elamite domination) and also the Arameans, Scythians and Cimmerianswho had also been subjugated by Assyria. After 4 years of fierce fighting Nineveh was sacked in 612 BC after a bitter prolonged siege in which Sin-shar-ishkun was killed. House to house fighting continued in Nineveh, and the last Assyrian king, Ashur-uballit II was offered the chance of accepting a position of vassalage according to the Babylonian Chronicle. However he refused and managed to successfully fight his way out of Nineveh and to the northern Assyrian city of Harran where he founded a new capital. Fighting continued, as he held out until 608 BC, when he was eventually ejected by the Babylonians and their allies and prevented in an attempt to regain the city the same year.
The Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II, whose dynasty had been installed as vassals of Assyria decades before, belatedly tried to aid Egypt’s former Assyrian masters, possibly out of fear that Egypt would be next to succumb to the new powers. The Assyrians fought on with Egyptian aid until a final victory was achieved at Carchemish in 605 BC. The seat of empire was thus transferred to Babylonia for the first time since Hammurabi over a thousand years before.
Nabopolassar was followed by his son Nebuchadnezzar II (605 BC – 562 BC), whose reign of 43 years made Babylon once more the mistress of much of the civilized world, taking over a fair portion of the former Assyrian Empire once ruled by its Assyrian brethren, the eastern and north eastern portion being taken by the Medes and the far north by theScythians.
The Scythians and Cimmerians, erstwhile allies of Babylonia under Nabopolassar, now became a threat, and Nebuchadnezzar II was forced to march into Asia Minor and rout their forces, ending the northern threat to his Empire.
The Egyptians attempted to remain in the Near East, possibly in an effort to aid in restoring Assyria as a secure buffer against Babylonia and the Medes and Persians, or to carve out an empire of their own. Nebuchadnezzar II campaigned against the Egyptians and drove them back over the Sinai. However an attempt to take Egypt itself as his Assyrian predecessors had succeeded in achieving failed, mainly due to a series of rebellions among the Judeans, Phoenicians and Arameans of Caanan and the Levant. The Babylonian king crushed these rebellions, deposed Jehoiakim, the king of Judah and deported a sizeable part of the population to Babylonia. The Phoenician states of Tyre and Sidon were also subjugated, as was the Aramean state of Aram-Damascus. The Arabs who dwelt in the deserts to the south of the borders of Mesopotamia were then also subjugated.
In 567 BC he went to war with Pharaoh Amasis, and briefly invaded Egypt itself. After securing his empire, which included marrying a Median princess, he devoted himself to maintaining the empire and conducting numerous impressive building projects in Babylon. He is credited with building the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon.[12]
Amel-Marduk succeeded to the throne and reigned for only two years. Little contemporary record of his rule survives, though Berosus later stated that he was deposed and murdered in 560 BC by his successor Neriglissar for conducting himself in an improper manner.
Neriglissar (560 – 556 BC) also had a short reign. He was the son in law of Nebuchadnezzar II, and it is unclear if he was a Chaldean or native Babylonian who married into the dynasty. He campaigned in Aram and Phoenicia, successfully maintaining Babylonian rule in these regions. Neriglissar died young however, and was succeeded by his son Labashi-Marduk (556 BC), who was still a boy. He was deposed and killed during the same year in a palace conspiracy.
Of the reign of the last Babylonian king, Nabonidus (Nabu-na’id, 556 – 539 BC) who is the son of the Assyrian priestess Adda-Guppi and who managed to kill the last Chaldean king, Labashi-Marduk, and took the reign, there is a fair amount of information available. Nabonidus (hence his son, the regent Belshazzar) was, at least from the mother’s side, neither Chaldean nor Babylonian, but ironically Assyrian, hailing from its final capital of Harran (Kharranu). Information regarding Nabonidus is chiefly derived from a chronological tablet containing the annals of Nabonidus, supplemented by another inscription of Nabonidus where he recounts his restoration of the temple of the Moon-god Sin at Harran; as well as by a proclamation of Cyrus issued shortly after his formal recognition as king of Babylonia.
A number of factors arose which would ultimately lead to the fall of Babylon. The population of Babylonia became restive and increasingly disaffected under Nabonidus. He excited a strong feeling against himself by attempting to centralize the religion of Babylonia in the temple of Marduk at Babylon, and while he had thus alienated the local priesthoods, the military party also despised him on account of his antiquarian tastes. He seemed to have left the defense of his kingdom to Belshazzar (a capable soldier but poor diplomat who alienated the political elite), occupying himself with the more congenial work of excavating the foundation records of the temples and determining the dates of their builders. He also spent time outside Babylonia, rebuilding temples in the Assyrian city of Harran, and also among his Arab subjects in the deserts to the south of Mesopotamia. Nabonidus and Belshazzar’s Assyrian heritage is also likely to have added to this resentment. In addition, Mesopotamian military might had usually been concentrated in the martial state of Assyria. Babylonia had always been more vulnerable to conquest and invasion than its northern neighbour, and without the might of Assyria to keep foreign powers in check, Babylonia was ultimately exposed.
It was in the sixth year of Nabonidus (549 BC) that Cyrus the Great, the Achaemenid Persian “king of Anshan” in Elam, revolted against his suzerain Astyages, “king of the Manda” or Medes, at Ecbatana. Astyages’ army betrayed him to his enemy, and Cyrus established himself at Ecbatana, thus putting an end to the empire of the Medes and making the Persian faction dominant among the Iranic peoples. Three years later Cyrus had become king of all Persia, and was engaged in a campaign to put down a revolt among the Assyrians. Meanwhile, Nabonidus had established a camp in the desert of his colony of Arabia, near the southern frontier of his kingdom, leaving his son Belshazzar (Belsharutsur) in command of the army.
In 539 BC Cyrus invaded Babylonia. A battle was fought at Opis in the month of June, where the Babylonians were defeated; and immediately afterwards Sippar surrendered to the invader. Nabonidus fled to Babylon, where he was pursued by Gobryas, and on the 16th day of Tammuz, two days after the capture of Sippar, “the soldiers of Cyrus entered Babylon without fighting.” Nabonidus was dragged from his hiding place, where the services continued without interruption. Cyrus did not arrive until the 3rd of Marchesvan (October), Gobryas having acted for him in his absence. Gobryas was now made governor of the province of Babylon, and a few days afterwards Belshazzar the son of Nabonidus died in battle. A public mourning followed, lasting six days, and Cyrus’ son Cambyses accompanied the corpse to the tomb.
One of the first acts of Cyrus accordingly was to allow the Jewish exiles to return to their own homes, carrying with them their sacred temple vessels. The permission to do so was embodied in a proclamation, whereby the conqueror endeavored to justify his claim to the Babylonian throne.
Cyrus now claimed to be the legitimate successor of the ancient Babylonian kings and the avenger of Bel-Marduk, who was assumed to be wrathful at the impiety of Nabonidus in removing the images of the local gods from their ancestral shrines to his capital Babylon.
The Chaldean tribe had lost control of Babylonia decades before the end of the era that sometimes bears their name, and they appear to have blended into the general populace of Babylonia, and during the Persian Achaemenid Empire Chaldeans disappeared as a distinct people, and the term Chaldean ceased to refer to a race of men and instead to a social class only, regardless of ethnicity.
Babylonia (/?bæb??lo?ni?/) was an ancient Akkadian-speaking Semitic nation state and cultural region based in central-southernMesopotamia (present-day Iraq). It emerged as an independent state c. 1894 BC, with the city of Babylon as its capital. It was often involved in rivalry with its fellow Akkadian state of Assyria in northern Mesopotamia. Babylonia became the major power in the region after Hammurabi (fl. c. 1792 – 1752 BC middle chronology, or c. 1696 – 1654 BC, short chronology) created an empire out of many of the territories of the former Akkadian Empire.
The Babylonian state retained the written Semitic Akkadian language for official use (the language of its native populace), despite its Amorite founders and Kassite successors not being native Akkadians. It retained the Sumerian language for religious use, but by the time Babylon was founded this was no longer a spoken language, having been wholly subsumed by Akkadian. The earlier Akkadian and Sumerian traditions played a major role in Babylonian (and Assyrian) culture, and the region would remain an important cultural center, even under protracted periods of outside rule.
The earliest mention of the city of Babylon can be found in a tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad (2334- 2279 BC), dating back to the 23rd century BC. Babylon was merely a religious and cultural centre at this point and not an independent state; like the rest of Mesopotamia, it was subject to the Akkadian Empire which united all the Akkadian and Sumerian speakers under one rule. After the collapse of the Akkadian empire, the south Mesopotamian region was dominated by the Gutians for a few decades before the rise of the Sumerian third dynasty of Ur, which encompassed the whole of Mesopotamia, including Babylon.
Babylon remained a minor territory for a century after it was founded, until the reign of its sixth Amorite ruler, Hammurabi (1792- 1750 BC, or fl. c. 1728 – 1686 BC (short). He conducted major building work in Babylon, expanding it from a minor town into a great city worthy of kingship. He was a very efficient ruler, establishing a bureaucracy, with taxation and centralized government. Hammurabi freed Babylon from Elamite dominance, and indeed drove them from southern Mesopotamia entirely. He then gradually expanded Babylonian dominance over the whole of southern Mesopotamia, conquering the cities and states of the region, such as; Isin, Larsa, Eshnunna, Kish, Lagash, Nippur, Borsippa, Ur,Uruk, Umma, Adab and Eridu. The conquests of Hammurabi gave the region stability after turbulent times and coalesced the patchwork of states of southern and central Mesopotamia into one single nation, and it is only from the time of Hammurabi that southern Mesopotamia came to be known historically as Babylonia.
The armies of Babylonia under Hammurabi were well-disciplined, he turned eastwards and invaded what was a thousand years later to become Persia (Iran), conquering the pre Iranic Elamites, Gutians and Kassites. To the west, the Semitic states of the Levant (modern Syria) including the powerful kingdom of Mari were conquered.
Hammurabi then entered into a protracted war with the Old Assyrian Empire for control of Mesopotamia and the Near East. Assyria had extended control over parts of Asia Minorfrom the 21st century BC, and from the latter part of the 19th century BC had asserted itself over north east Syria and central Mesopotamia also. After a protracted unresolved struggle over decades with the Assyrian king Ishme-Dagan, Hammurabi forced his successor Mut-Ashkur to pay tribute to Babylon c. 1751 BC, thus giving Babylonia control over Assyria’s centuries old Hattian and Hurrian colonies in Asia Minor.[5]
One of the most important works of this “First Dynasty of Babylon“, as it was called by the native historians, was the compilation of a code of laws which echoed and improved upon the earlier written laws of Sumer, Akkad and Assyria. This was made by order of Hammurabi after the expulsion of the Elamites and the settlement of his kingdom. In 1901, a copy of the Code of Hammurabi was discovered on a stele by J. De Morgan and V. Scheil at Susa, where it had later been taken as plunder. That copy is now in the Louvre.
From before 3000 BC until the reign of Hammurabi, the major cultural and religious center of southern Mesopotamia had been the ancient city of Nippur, where the god Enlil was supreme. However, with the rise of Hammurabi, this honour was transferred to Babylon, and the south Mesopotamian god Marduk rose to supremacy in the pantheon of southern Mesopotamia (with the god Ashur remaining the dominant deity in the northern Mesopotamian state of Assyria). The city of Babylon became known as a “holy city” where any legitimate ruler of southern Mesopotamia had to be crowned. Hammurabi turned what had previously been a minor administrative town into a major city, increasing its size and population dramatically, and conducting a number of impressive architectural works.
The Babylonians, like their predecessor Sumero-Akkadian states, engaged in regular trade with the Amorite and Canaanite city-states to the west; with Babylonian officials or troops sometimes passing to the Levant and Canaan, with Amorite merchants operating freely throughout Mesopotamia. The Babylonian monarchy’s western connections remained strong for quite some time. An Amorite chieftain named Abi-ramu or Abram (possibly the Biblical Abraham) was the father of a witness to a deed dated to the reign of Hammurabi’s grandfather;[citation needed] Ammi-Ditana, great-grandson of Hammurabi, still titled himself “king of the land of the Amorites”. Ammi-Ditana’s father and son also bore Canaanite names: Abi-Eshuh and Ammisaduqa.
In 620 BC Nabopolassar seized control over much of Babylonia with the support of most of the inhabitants, with only the city ofNippur and some northern regions showing any loyalty to the Assyrian king.[6] Nabopolassar was unable to yet utterly secure Babylonia, and for the next 4 years he was forced to contend with an occupying Assyrian army encamped in Babylonia trying to unseat him. However, the Assyrian king, Sin-shar-ishkun was plagued by constant revolt among his own people in Nineveh, and was thus unable to eject Nabopolassar.
The stalemate ended in 616 BC, when Nabopolassar entered into alliance with Cyaxares, king of the Medes and Persians, (who had also taken advantage of the Assyrian destruction of Elam and the subsequent anarchy in Assyria to free the Iranic peoples from three centuries of the Assyrian yoke and regional Elamite domination) and also the Arameans, Scythians and Cimmerianswho had also been subjugated by Assyria. After 4 years of fierce fighting Nineveh was sacked in 612 BC after a bitter prolonged siege in which Sin-shar-ishkun was killed. House to house fighting continued in Nineveh, and the last Assyrian king, Ashur-uballit II was offered the chance of accepting a position of vassalage according to the Babylonian Chronicle. However he refused and managed to successfully fight his way out of Nineveh and to the northern Assyrian city of Harran where he founded a new capital. Fighting continued, as he held out until 608 BC, when he was eventually ejected by the Babylonians and their allies and prevented in an attempt to regain the city the same year.
The Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II, whose dynasty had been installed as vassals of Assyria decades before, belatedly tried to aid Egypt’s former Assyrian masters, possibly out of fear that Egypt would be next to succumb to the new powers. The Assyrians fought on with Egyptian aid until a final victory was achieved at Carchemish in 605 BC. The seat of empire was thus transferred to Babylonia for the first time since Hammurabi over a thousand years before.
Nabopolassar was followed by his son Nebuchadnezzar II (605 BC – 562 BC), whose reign of 43 years made Babylon once more the mistress of much of the civilized world, taking over a fair portion of the former Assyrian Empire once ruled by its Assyrian brethren, the eastern and north eastern portion being taken by the Medes and the far north by theScythians.
The Scythians and Cimmerians, erstwhile allies of Babylonia under Nabopolassar, now became a threat, and Nebuchadnezzar II was forced to march into Asia Minor and rout their forces, ending the northern threat to his Empire.
The Egyptians attempted to remain in the Near East, possibly in an effort to aid in restoring Assyria as a secure buffer against Babylonia and the Medes and Persians, or to carve out an empire of their own. Nebuchadnezzar II campaigned against the Egyptians and drove them back over the Sinai. However an attempt to take Egypt itself as his Assyrian predecessors had succeeded in achieving failed, mainly due to a series of rebellions among the Judeans, Phoenicians and Arameans of Caanan and the Levant. The Babylonian king crushed these rebellions, deposed Jehoiakim, the king of Judah and deported a sizeable part of the population to Babylonia. The Phoenician states of Tyre and Sidon were also subjugated, as was the Aramean state of Aram-Damascus. The Arabs who dwelt in the deserts to the south of the borders of Mesopotamia were then also subjugated.
In 567 BC he went to war with Pharaoh Amasis, and briefly invaded Egypt itself. After securing his empire, which included marrying a Median princess, he devoted himself to maintaining the empire and conducting numerous impressive building projects in Babylon. He is credited with building the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon.[12]
Amel-Marduk succeeded to the throne and reigned for only two years. Little contemporary record of his rule survives, though Berosus later stated that he was deposed and murdered in 560 BC by his successor Neriglissar for conducting himself in an improper manner.
Neriglissar (560 – 556 BC) also had a short reign. He was the son in law of Nebuchadnezzar II, and it is unclear if he was a Chaldean or native Babylonian who married into the dynasty. He campaigned in Aram and Phoenicia, successfully maintaining Babylonian rule in these regions. Neriglissar died young however, and was succeeded by his son Labashi-Marduk (556 BC), who was still a boy. He was deposed and killed during the same year in a palace conspiracy.
Of the reign of the last Babylonian king, Nabonidus (Nabu-na’id, 556 – 539 BC) who is the son of the Assyrian priestess Adda-Guppi and who managed to kill the last Chaldean king, Labashi-Marduk, and took the reign, there is a fair amount of information available. Nabonidus (hence his son, the regent Belshazzar) was, at least from the mother’s side, neither Chaldean nor Babylonian, but ironically Assyrian, hailing from its final capital of Harran (Kharranu). Information regarding Nabonidus is chiefly derived from a chronological tablet containing the annals of Nabonidus, supplemented by another inscription of Nabonidus where he recounts his restoration of the temple of the Moon-god Sin at Harran; as well as by a proclamation of Cyrus issued shortly after his formal recognition as king of Babylonia.
A number of factors arose which would ultimately lead to the fall of Babylon. The population of Babylonia became restive and increasingly disaffected under Nabonidus. He excited a strong feeling against himself by attempting to centralize the religion of Babylonia in the temple of Marduk at Babylon, and while he had thus alienated the local priesthoods, the military party also despised him on account of his antiquarian tastes. He seemed to have left the defense of his kingdom to Belshazzar (a capable soldier but poor diplomat who alienated the political elite), occupying himself with the more congenial work of excavating the foundation records of the temples and determining the dates of their builders. He also spent time outside Babylonia, rebuilding temples in the Assyrian city of Harran, and also among his Arab subjects in the deserts to the south of Mesopotamia. Nabonidus and Belshazzar’s Assyrian heritage is also likely to have added to this resentment. In addition, Mesopotamian military might had usually been concentrated in the martial state of Assyria. Babylonia had always been more vulnerable to conquest and invasion than its northern neighbour, and without the might of Assyria to keep foreign powers in check, Babylonia was ultimately exposed.
It was in the sixth year of Nabonidus (549 BC) that Cyrus the Great, the Achaemenid Persian “king of Anshan” in Elam, revolted against his suzerain Astyages, “king of the Manda” or Medes, at Ecbatana. Astyages’ army betrayed him to his enemy, and Cyrus established himself at Ecbatana, thus putting an end to the empire of the Medes and making the Persian faction dominant among the Iranic peoples. Three years later Cyrus had become king of all Persia, and was engaged in a campaign to put down a revolt among the Assyrians. Meanwhile, Nabonidus had established a camp in the desert of his colony of Arabia, near the southern frontier of his kingdom, leaving his son Belshazzar (Belsharutsur) in command of the army.
In 539 BC Cyrus invaded Babylonia. A battle was fought at Opis in the month of June, where the Babylonians were defeated; and immediately afterwards Sippar surrendered to the invader. Nabonidus fled to Babylon, where he was pursued by Gobryas, and on the 16th day of Tammuz, two days after the capture of Sippar, “the soldiers of Cyrus entered Babylon without fighting.” Nabonidus was dragged from his hiding place, where the services continued without interruption. Cyrus did not arrive until the 3rd of Marchesvan (October), Gobryas having acted for him in his absence. Gobryas was now made governor of the province of Babylon, and a few days afterwards Belshazzar the son of Nabonidus died in battle. A public mourning followed, lasting six days, and Cyrus’ son Cambyses accompanied the corpse to the tomb.
One of the first acts of Cyrus accordingly was to allow the Jewish exiles to return to their own homes, carrying with them their sacred temple vessels. The permission to do so was embodied in a proclamation, whereby the conqueror endeavored to justify his claim to the Babylonian throne.
Cyrus now claimed to be the legitimate successor of the ancient Babylonian kings and the avenger of Bel-Marduk, who was assumed to be wrathful at the impiety of Nabonidus in removing the images of the local gods from their ancestral shrines to his capital Babylon.
The Chaldean tribe had lost control of Babylonia decades before the end of the era that sometimes bears their name, and they appear to have blended into the general populace of Babylonia, and during the Persian Achaemenid Empire Chaldeans disappeared as a distinct people, and the term Chaldean ceased to refer to a race of men and instead to a social class only, regardless of ethnicity.

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The Seleucid Empire (/sɪˈl(j)sɪd/),[4] also known as Seleucia (Ancient Greek: Σελεύκεια, Seleúkeia) or Syria,[5] was a Hellenisticstate ruled by the Seleucid dynasty founded by Seleucus I Nicator following the division of the empire created by Alexander the Great.[6][7][8][9] Seleucus received Babylonia and, from there, expanded his dominions to include much of Alexander’s near easternterritories. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, Persia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Kuwait, what is now Pakistan,Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and northwest parts of India.
The Seleucid Empire was a major center of Hellenistic culture that maintained the preeminence of Greek customs where a Greek-Macedonian political elite dominated, mostly in the urban areas.[9][10][11][12] The Greek population of the cities who formed the dominant elite were reinforced by emigration from Greece.[9][10] Seleucid expansion into Anatolia and Greece was abruptly halted after decisive defeats at the hands of the Roman army. Their attempts to defeat their old enemy Ptolemaic Egypt were frustrated by Roman demands. Much of the eastern part of the empire was conquered by the Parthians under Mithridates I of Parthia in the mid-2nd century BC, yet the Seleucid kings continued to rule a rump state from Syria until the invasion by Armenian king Tigranes the Great and their ultimate overthrow by the Roman general Pompey.
Alexander conquered the Persian Empire under its last Achaemenid dynast, Darius III, within a short time frame and died young, leaving an expansive empire of partly Hellenised culture without an adult heir. The empire was put under the authority of a regent in the person of Perdiccas in 323 BC, and the territories were divided between Alexander’s generals, who thereby became satraps, at the Partition of Babylon in 323 BC.

Rise of Seleucus

The Kingdoms of the Diadochi c. 303 BC
Alexander’s generals (the Diadochi) jostled for supremacy over parts of his empire. Ptolemy, a former general and the satrap ofEgypt, was the first to challenge the new system; this led to the demise of Perdiccas. Ptolemy’s revolt led to a new subdivision of the empire with the Partition of Triparadisus in 320 BC. Seleucus, who had been “Commander-in-Chief of the camp” under Perdiccas since 323 BC but helped to assassinate him later, received Babylonia and, from that point, continued to expand his dominions ruthlessly. Seleucus established himself in Babylon in 312 BC, the year used as the foundation date of the Seleucid Empire. He ruled not only Babylonia, but the entire enormous eastern part of Alexander’s empire:
“Always lying in wait for the neighboring nations, strong in arms and persuasive in council, he [Seleucus] acquired Mesopotamia, Armenia, ‘Seleucid’ Cappadocia, Persis, Parthia, Bactria, Arabia, Tapouria, Sogdia, Arachosia, Hyrcania, and other adjacent peoples that had been subdued by Alexander, as far as the river Indus, so that the boundaries of his empire were the most extensive in Asia after that of Alexander. The whole region from Phrygia to the Indus was subject to Seleucus.”[13]
 AppianThe Syrian Wars
Seleucus went as far as India, where, after two years of war, he reached an agreement withChandragupta Maurya, in which he exchanged his eastern territories for a considerable force of 500 war elephants, which would play a decisive role at Ipsus (301 BC).
“The Indians occupy [in part] some of the countries situated along the Indus, which formerly belonged to the Persians: Alexander deprived the Ariani of them, and established there settlements of his own. ButSeleucus Nicator gave them to Sandrocottus(Chandragupta Maurya) in consequence of a marriage contract, and received in return five hundred elephants.”[14]
The Seleucid Empire (/s??l(j)u?s?d/),[4] also known as Seleucia (Ancient Greek: ?????????, Seleúkeia) or Syria,[5] was a Hellenisticstate ruled by the Seleucid dynasty founded by Seleucus I Nicator following the division of the empire created by Alexander the Great.[6][7][8][9] Seleucus received Babylonia and, from there, expanded his dominions to include much of Alexander’s near easternterritories. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, Persia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Kuwait, what is now Pakistan,Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and northwest parts of India.
The Seleucid Empire was a major center of Hellenistic culture that maintained the preeminence of Greek customs where a Greek-Macedonian political elite dominated, mostly in the urban areas.[9][10][11][12] The Greek population of the cities who formed the dominant elite were reinforced by emigration from Greece.[9][10] Seleucid expansion into Anatolia and Greece was abruptly halted after decisive defeats at the hands of the Roman army. Their attempts to defeat their old enemy Ptolemaic Egypt were frustrated by Roman demands. Much of the eastern part of the empire was conquered by the Parthians under Mithridates I of Parthia in the mid-2nd century BC, yet the Seleucid kings continued to rule a rump state from Syria until the invasion by Armenian king Tigranes the Great and their ultimate overthrow by the Roman general Pompey.
Alexander conquered the Persian Empire under its last Achaemenid dynast, Darius III, within a short time frame and died young, leaving an expansive empire of partly Hellenised culture without an adult heir. The empire was put under the authority of a regent in the person of Perdiccas in 323 BC, and the territories were divided between Alexander’s generals, who thereby became satraps, at the Partition of Babylon in 323 BC.

Rise of Seleucus

The Kingdoms of the Diadochi c. 303 BC
Alexander’s generals (the Diadochi) jostled for supremacy over parts of his empire. Ptolemy, a former general and the satrap ofEgypt, was the first to challenge the new system; this led to the demise of Perdiccas. Ptolemy’s revolt led to a new subdivision of the empire with the Partition of Triparadisus in 320 BC. Seleucus, who had been “Commander-in-Chief of the camp” under Perdiccas since 323 BC but helped to assassinate him later, received Babylonia and, from that point, continued to expand his dominions ruthlessly. Seleucus established himself in Babylon in 312 BC, the year used as the foundation date of the Seleucid Empire. He ruled not only Babylonia, but the entire enormous eastern part of Alexander’s empire:
“Always lying in wait for the neighboring nations, strong in arms and persuasive in council, he [Seleucus] acquired Mesopotamia, Armenia, ‘Seleucid’ Cappadocia, Persis, Parthia, Bactria, Arabia, Tapouria, Sogdia, Arachosia, Hyrcania, and other adjacent peoples that had been subdued by Alexander, as far as the river Indus, so that the boundaries of his empire were the most extensive in Asia after that of Alexander. The whole region from Phrygia to the Indus was subject to Seleucus.”[13]
 AppianThe Syrian Wars
Seleucus went as far as India, where, after two years of war, he reached an agreement withChandragupta Maurya, in which he exchanged his eastern territories for a considerable force of 500 war elephants, which would play a decisive role at Ipsus (301 BC).
“The Indians occupy [in part] some of the countries situated along the Indus, which formerly belonged to the Persians: Alexander deprived the Ariani of them, and established there settlements of his own. ButSeleucus Nicator gave them to Sandrocottus(Chandragupta Maurya) in consequence of a marriage contract, and received in return five hundred elephants.”[14]

The Parthian Empire

The Parthian Empire (/ˈpɑrθiən/; 247 BC – 224 AD), also known as the Arsacid Empire /ˈɑrsəsɪd/,[5] was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran, also known as ancient Persia.[6] Its latter name comes from Arsaces I of Parthia[7] who, as leader of the Parni tribe, founded it in the mid-3rd century BC when he conquered the region of Parthia[8] in Iran‘s northeast, then a satrapy(province) in rebellion against the Seleucid Empire. Mithridates I of Parthia (r. c. 171–138 BC) greatly expanded the empire by seizing Media and Mesopotamia from the Seleucids. At its height, the Parthian Empire stretched from the northern reaches of theEuphrates, in what is now central-eastern Turkey, to eastern Iran. The empire, located on the Silk Road trade route between theRoman Empire in the Mediterranean Basin and the Han Empire of China, became a center of trade and commerce.
The Parthians largely adopted the art, architecture, religious beliefs, and royal insignia of their culturally heterogeneous empire, which encompassed Persian, Hellenistic, and regional cultures. For about the first half of its existence, the Arsacid court adopted elements of Greek culture, though it eventually saw a gradual revival of Iranian traditions. The Arsacid rulers were titled the “King of Kings“, as a claim to be the heirs to the Achaemenid Empire; indeed, they accepted many local kings as vassals where the Achaemenids would have had centrally appointed, albeit largely autonomous, satraps. The court did appoint a small number of satraps, largely outside Iran, but these satrapies were smaller and less powerful than the Achaemenid potentates. With the expansion of Arsacid power, the seat of central government shifted from Nisa to Ctesiphon along the Tigris (south of modernBaghdad, Iraq), although several other sites also served as capitals.
The earliest enemies of the Parthians were the Seleucids in the west and the Scythians in the east. However, as Parthia expanded westward, they came into conflict with the Kingdom of Armenia, and eventually the late Roman Republic. Rome and Parthia competed with each other to establish the kings of Armenia as their subordinate clients. The Parthians soundly defeated Marcus Licinius Crassus at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC, and in 40–39 BC, Parthian forces captured the whole of the Levant except Tyrefrom the Romans. However, Mark Antony led a counterattack against Parthia, although his successes were generally achieved in his absence, under the leadership of his lieutenant Ventidius. Also, various Roman emperors or their appointed generals invaded Mesopotamia in the course of the several Roman-Parthian Wars, which ensued during the next few centuries. The Romans captured the cities of Seleucia and Ctesiphon on multiple occasions during these conflicts, but were never able to hold onto them.
Frequent civil war between Parthian contenders to the throne proved more dangerous to the Empire’s stability than foreign invasion, and Parthian power evaporated when Ardashir I, ruler of Estakhr in Fars, revolted against the Arsacids and killed their last ruler,Artabanus IV, in 224 AD. Ardashir established the Sassanid Empire, which ruled Iran and much of the Near East until the Muslim conquests of the 7th century AD, although the Arsacid dynasty lived on through the Arsacid Dynasty of Armenia.
Native Parthian sources, written in Parthian, Greek and other languages, are scarce when compared to Sassanid and even earlierAchaemenid sources. Aside from scattered cuneiform tablets, fragmentary ostraca, rock inscriptions, drachma coins, and the chance survival of some parchment documents, much of Parthian history is only known through external sources. These include mainlyGreek and Roman histories, but also Chinese histories, prompted by the market for Chinese goods in Parthia. Parthian artwork is viewed by historians as a valid source for understanding aspects of society and culture that are otherwise absent in textual sources.
Before Arsaces I of Parthia founded the Arsacid Dynasty, he was chieftain of the Parni, an ancient Central-Asian tribe of Iranian peoples and one of several nomadic tribes within the confederation of the Dahae.[9] The Parni most likely spoke an eastern Iranian language, in contrast to the northwestern Iranian language spoken at the time in Parthia.[10] The latter was a northeastern province, first under the Achaemenid, and then the Seleucid empires.[11] After conquering the region, the Parni adopted Parthian as the official court language, speaking it alongside Middle Persian, Aramaic, Greek, Babylonian, Sogdian and other languages in the multilingual territories they would conquer.[12]
Why the Arsacid court retroactively chose 247 BC as the first year of the Arsacid era is uncertain. A.D.H. Bivar concludes that this was the year the Seleucids lost control of Parthia to Andragoras, the appointed satrap who rebelled against them. Hence, Arsaces I “backdated hisregnal years” to the moment when Seleucid control over Parthia ceased.[13] However, Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis asserts that this was simply the year Arsaces was made chief of the Parni tribe.[14] Homa Katouzian[15] and Gene Ralph Garthwaite[16] claim it was the year Arsaces conquered Parthia and expelled the Seleucid authorities, yet Curtis[14] and Maria Brosius[17] state that Andragoras was not overthrown by the Arsacids until 238 BC.
During the reign of Artabanus II, two Jewish commoners and brothers, Anilai and Asinai from Nehardea (near modern Fallujah, Iraq),[101] led a revolt against the Parthian governor of Babylonia. After defeating the latter, the two were granted the right to govern the region by Artabanus II, who feared further rebellion elsewhere.[102] Anilai’s Parthian wife poisoned Asinai out of fear he would attack Anilai over his marriage to a gentile. Following this, Anilai became embroiled in an armed conflict with a son-in-law of Artabanus, who eventually defeated him.[103] With the Jewish regime removed, the native Babylonians began to harass the local Jewish community, forcing them to emigrate to Seleucia. When that city rebelled against Parthian rule in 35–36 AD, the Jews were expelled again, this time by the local Greeks andAramaeans. The exiled Jews fled to Ctesiphon, Nehardea, and Nisibis.[104]

A denarius struck in 19 BC during the reign of Augustus, with the goddess Feronia depicted on the obverse, and on the reverse a Parthian man kneeling in submission while offering the Roman military standardstaken at the Battle of Carrhae[105]
Although at peace with Parthia, Rome still interfered in its affairs. The Roman emperor Tiberius (r. 14–37 AD) became involved in a plot byPharasmanes I of Iberia to place his brother Mithridates on the throne of Armenia by assassinating the Parthian ally King Arsaces of Armenia.[106] Artabanus II tried and failed to restore Parthian control of Armenia, prompting an aristocratic revolt that forced him to flee toScythia. The Romans released a hostage prince, Tiridates III of Parthia, to rule the region as an ally of Rome. Shortly before his death, Artabanus managed to force Tiridates from the throne using troops from Hyrcania.[107] After Artabanus’ death in 38 AD, a long civil war ensued between the rightful successor Vardanes I of Parthia and his brother Gotarzes II of Parthia.[108] After Vardanes was assassinated during a hunting expedition, the Parthian nobility appealed to Roman emperor Claudius (r. 41–54 AD) in 49 AD to release the hostage prince Meherdates to challenge Gotarzes. This backfired when Meherdates was betrayed by the governor of Edessa and Izates bar Monobaz ofAdiabene; he was captured and sent to Gotarzes, where he was allowed to live after having his ears mutilated, an act that disqualified him from inheriting the throne.[109]
In 97 AD, the Chinese general Ban Chao, the Protector-General of the Western Regions, sent his emissary Gan Ying on a diplomatic mission to reach the Roman Empire. Gan visited the court of Pacorus II of Parthia at Hecatompylos before departing towards Rome.[110] He traveled as far west as the Persian Gulf, where Parthian authorities convinced him that an arduous sea voyage around the Arabian Peninsula was the only means to reach Rome.[111]Discouraged by this, Gan Ying returned to the Han court and provided Emperor He of Han (r. 88–105 AD) with a detailed report on the Roman Empire based on oral accounts of his Parthian hosts.[112] William Watson speculates that the Parthians would have been relieved at the failed efforts by the Han Empire to open diplomatic relations with Rome, especially after Ban Chao’s military victories against the Xiongnu in eastern Central Asia.[110] However, Chinese records maintain that a Roman embassy, perhaps only a group of Roman merchants, arrived at the Han capital Luoyang in 166 AD, during the reigns of Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180 AD) and Emperor Huan of Han (r. 146–168 AD).
The Parthian Empire had no standing army, yet were able to quickly recruit troops in the event of local crises.[189] There was a permanent armed guard attached to the person of the king, comprising nobles, serfs and mercenaries, but this royal retinue was small.[190] Garrisons were also permanently maintained at border forts; Parthian inscriptions reveal some of the military titles granted to the commanders of these locations.[190] Military forces could also be used in diplomatic gestures. For example, when Chinese envoys visited Parthia in the late 2nd century BC, the Shiji maintains that 20,000 horsemen were sent to the eastern borders to serve as escorts for the embassy, although this figure is perhaps an exaggeration.[191]
The main striking force of the Parthian army was its cataphracts, heavy cavalry with man and horse decked in mailed armor.[192] The cataphracts were equipped with a lance for charging into enemy lines,but were not equipped with bows and arrows which were restricted to horse archers.[193] Due to the cost of their equipment and armor, cataphracts were recruited from among the aristocratic class who, in return for their services, demanded a measure of autonomy at the local level from the Arsacid kings.[194] The light cavalry was recruited from among the commoner class and acted as horse archers; they wore a simple tunic and trousers into battle.[192] They used composite bowsand were able to shoot at enemies while riding and facing away from them; this technique, known as the Parthian shot, was a highly effective tactic.[195] The heavy and light cavalry of Parthia proved to be a decisive factor in the Battle of Carrhae where a Persian force defeated a much larger Roman army under Crassus. Light infantry units, composed of levied commoners and mercenaries, were used to disperse enemy troops after cavalry charges.[196]
The size of the Parthian army is unknown, as is the size of the empire’s overall population. However, archaeological excavations in former Parthian urban centers reveal settlements which could have sustained large populations and hence a great resource in manpower.[197]Dense population centers in regions like Babylonia were no doubt attractive to the Romans, whose armies could afford to live off the land.
The Parthian Empire, being culturally and politically heterogeneous, had a variety of religious systems and beliefs, the most widespread being those dedicated to Greek and Iranian cults.[214] Aside from a minority of Jews[215] and early Christians,[216] most Parthians werepolytheistic.[217] Greek and Iranian deities were often blended together as one. For example, Zeus was often equated with Ahura Mazda,Hades with Angra Mainyu, Aphrodite and Hera with Anahita, Apollo with Mithra, and Hermes with Shamash.[218] Aside from the main gods and goddesses, each ethnic group and city had their own designated deities.[217] As with Seleucid rulers,[219] Parthian art indicates that the Arsacid kings viewed themselves as gods; this cult of the ruler was perhaps the most widespread.[220]
The extent of Arsacid patronism of Zoroastrianism is debated in modern scholarship.[221] The followers of Zoroaster would have found the bloody sacrifices of some Parthian-era Iranian cults to be unacceptable.[214] However, there is evidence that Vologeses I encouraged the presence of Zoroastrian magi priests at court and sponsored the compilation of sacred Zoroastrian texts which later formed the Avesta.[222]The Sassanid court would later adopt Zoroastrianism as the official state religion of the empire.[223]
Although Mani (216–276 AD), the founding prophet of Manichaeism, did not proclaim his first religious revelation until 228/229 AD, Bivar asserts that his new faith contained “elements of Mandaean belief, Iranian cosmogony, and even echoes of Christianity … [it] may be regarded as a typical reflection of the mixed religious doctrines of the late Arsacid period, which the Zoroastrian orthodoxy of the Sasanians was soon to sweep away.”[224]
There is scant archaeological evidence for the spread of Buddhism from the Kushan Empire into Iran proper.[225] However, it is known from Chinese sources that An Shigao (fl. 2nd century AD), a Parthian nobleman and Buddhist monk, traveled to Luoyang in Han China as aBuddhist missionary and translated several Buddhist canons into Chinese.
The Parthian Empire (/?p?r?i?n/; 247 BC – 224 AD), also known as the Arsacid Empire /??rs?s?d/,[5] was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran, also known as ancient Persia.[6] Its latter name comes from Arsaces I of Parthia[7] who, as leader of the Parni tribe, founded it in the mid-3rd century BC when he conquered the region of Parthia[8] in Iran‘s northeast, then a satrapy(province) in rebellion against the Seleucid Empire. Mithridates I of Parthia (r. c. 171–138 BC) greatly expanded the empire by seizing Media and Mesopotamia from the Seleucids. At its height, the Parthian Empire stretched from the northern reaches of theEuphrates, in what is now central-eastern Turkey, to eastern Iran. The empire, located on the Silk Road trade route between theRoman Empire in the Mediterranean Basin and the Han Empire of China, became a center of trade and commerce.
The Parthians largely adopted the art, architecture, religious beliefs, and royal insignia of their culturally heterogeneous empire, which encompassed Persian, Hellenistic, and regional cultures. For about the first half of its existence, the Arsacid court adopted elements of Greek culture, though it eventually saw a gradual revival of Iranian traditions. The Arsacid rulers were titled the “King of Kings“, as a claim to be the heirs to the Achaemenid Empire; indeed, they accepted many local kings as vassals where the Achaemenids would have had centrally appointed, albeit largely autonomous, satraps. The court did appoint a small number of satraps, largely outside Iran, but these satrapies were smaller and less powerful than the Achaemenid potentates. With the expansion of Arsacid power, the seat of central government shifted from Nisa to Ctesiphon along the Tigris (south of modernBaghdad, Iraq), although several other sites also served as capitals.
The earliest enemies of the Parthians were the Seleucids in the west and the Scythians in the east. However, as Parthia expanded westward, they came into conflict with the Kingdom of Armenia, and eventually the late Roman Republic. Rome and Parthia competed with each other to establish the kings of Armenia as their subordinate clients. The Parthians soundly defeated Marcus Licinius Crassus at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC, and in 40–39 BC, Parthian forces captured the whole of the Levant except Tyrefrom the Romans. However, Mark Antony led a counterattack against Parthia, although his successes were generally achieved in his absence, under the leadership of his lieutenant Ventidius. Also, various Roman emperors or their appointed generals invaded Mesopotamia in the course of the several Roman-Parthian Wars, which ensued during the next few centuries. The Romans captured the cities of Seleucia and Ctesiphon on multiple occasions during these conflicts, but were never able to hold onto them.
Frequent civil war between Parthian contenders to the throne proved more dangerous to the Empire’s stability than foreign invasion, and Parthian power evaporated when Ardashir I, ruler of Estakhr in Fars, revolted against the Arsacids and killed their last ruler,Artabanus IV, in 224 AD. Ardashir established the Sassanid Empire, which ruled Iran and much of the Near East until the Muslim conquests of the 7th century AD, although the Arsacid dynasty lived on through the Arsacid Dynasty of Armenia.
Native Parthian sources, written in Parthian, Greek and other languages, are scarce when compared to Sassanid and even earlierAchaemenid sources. Aside from scattered cuneiform tablets, fragmentary ostraca, rock inscriptions, drachma coins, and the chance survival of some parchment documents, much of Parthian history is only known through external sources. These include mainlyGreek and Roman histories, but also Chinese histories, prompted by the market for Chinese goods in Parthia. Parthian artwork is viewed by historians as a valid source for understanding aspects of society and culture that are otherwise absent in textual sources.
Before Arsaces I of Parthia founded the Arsacid Dynasty, he was chieftain of the Parni, an ancient Central-Asian tribe of Iranian peoples and one of several nomadic tribes within the confederation of the Dahae.[9] The Parni most likely spoke an eastern Iranian language, in contrast to the northwestern Iranian language spoken at the time in Parthia.[10] The latter was a northeastern province, first under the Achaemenid, and then the Seleucid empires.[11] After conquering the region, the Parni adopted Parthian as the official court language, speaking it alongside Middle Persian, Aramaic, Greek, Babylonian, Sogdian and other languages in the multilingual territories they would conquer.[12]
Why the Arsacid court retroactively chose 247 BC as the first year of the Arsacid era is uncertain. A.D.H. Bivar concludes that this was the year the Seleucids lost control of Parthia to Andragoras, the appointed satrap who rebelled against them. Hence, Arsaces I “backdated hisregnal years” to the moment when Seleucid control over Parthia ceased.[13] However, Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis asserts that this was simply the year Arsaces was made chief of the Parni tribe.[14] Homa Katouzian[15] and Gene Ralph Garthwaite[16] claim it was the year Arsaces conquered Parthia and expelled the Seleucid authorities, yet Curtis[14] and Maria Brosius[17] state that Andragoras was not overthrown by the Arsacids until 238 BC.
During the reign of Artabanus II, two Jewish commoners and brothers, Anilai and Asinai from Nehardea (near modern Fallujah, Iraq),[101] led a revolt against the Parthian governor of Babylonia. After defeating the latter, the two were granted the right to govern the region by Artabanus II, who feared further rebellion elsewhere.[102] Anilai’s Parthian wife poisoned Asinai out of fear he would attack Anilai over his marriage to a gentile. Following this, Anilai became embroiled in an armed conflict with a son-in-law of Artabanus, who eventually defeated him.[103] With the Jewish regime removed, the native Babylonians began to harass the local Jewish community, forcing them to emigrate to Seleucia. When that city rebelled against Parthian rule in 35–36 AD, the Jews were expelled again, this time by the local Greeks andAramaeans. The exiled Jews fled to Ctesiphon, Nehardea, and Nisibis.[104]

A denarius struck in 19 BC during the reign of Augustus, with the goddess Feronia depicted on the obverse, and on the reverse a Parthian man kneeling in submission while offering the Roman military standardstaken at the Battle of Carrhae[105]
Although at peace with Parthia, Rome still interfered in its affairs. The Roman emperor Tiberius (r. 14–37 AD) became involved in a plot byPharasmanes I of Iberia to place his brother Mithridates on the throne of Armenia by assassinating the Parthian ally King Arsaces of Armenia.[106] Artabanus II tried and failed to restore Parthian control of Armenia, prompting an aristocratic revolt that forced him to flee toScythia. The Romans released a hostage prince, Tiridates III of Parthia, to rule the region as an ally of Rome. Shortly before his death, Artabanus managed to force Tiridates from the throne using troops from Hyrcania.[107] After Artabanus’ death in 38 AD, a long civil war ensued between the rightful successor Vardanes I of Parthia and his brother Gotarzes II of Parthia.[108] After Vardanes was assassinated during a hunting expedition, the Parthian nobility appealed to Roman emperor Claudius (r. 41–54 AD) in 49 AD to release the hostage prince Meherdates to challenge Gotarzes. This backfired when Meherdates was betrayed by the governor of Edessa and Izates bar Monobaz ofAdiabene; he was captured and sent to Gotarzes, where he was allowed to live after having his ears mutilated, an act that disqualified him from inheriting the throne.[109]
In 97 AD, the Chinese general Ban Chao, the Protector-General of the Western Regions, sent his emissary Gan Ying on a diplomatic mission to reach the Roman Empire. Gan visited the court of Pacorus II of Parthia at Hecatompylos before departing towards Rome.[110] He traveled as far west as the Persian Gulf, where Parthian authorities convinced him that an arduous sea voyage around the Arabian Peninsula was the only means to reach Rome.[111]Discouraged by this, Gan Ying returned to the Han court and provided Emperor He of Han (r. 88–105 AD) with a detailed report on the Roman Empire based on oral accounts of his Parthian hosts.[112] William Watson speculates that the Parthians would have been relieved at the failed efforts by the Han Empire to open diplomatic relations with Rome, especially after Ban Chao’s military victories against the Xiongnu in eastern Central Asia.[110] However, Chinese records maintain that a Roman embassy, perhaps only a group of Roman merchants, arrived at the Han capital Luoyang in 166 AD, during the reigns of Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180 AD) and Emperor Huan of Han (r. 146–168 AD).
The Parthian Empire had no standing army, yet were able to quickly recruit troops in the event of local crises.[189] There was a permanent armed guard attached to the person of the king, comprising nobles, serfs and mercenaries, but this royal retinue was small.[190] Garrisons were also permanently maintained at border forts; Parthian inscriptions reveal some of the military titles granted to the commanders of these locations.[190] Military forces could also be used in diplomatic gestures. For example, when Chinese envoys visited Parthia in the late 2nd century BC, the Shiji maintains that 20,000 horsemen were sent to the eastern borders to serve as escorts for the embassy, although this figure is perhaps an exaggeration.[191]
The main striking force of the Parthian army was its cataphracts, heavy cavalry with man and horse decked in mailed armor.[192] The cataphracts were equipped with a lance for charging into enemy lines,but were not equipped with bows and arrows which were restricted to horse archers.[193] Due to the cost of their equipment and armor, cataphracts were recruited from among the aristocratic class who, in return for their services, demanded a measure of autonomy at the local level from the Arsacid kings.[194] The light cavalry was recruited from among the commoner class and acted as horse archers; they wore a simple tunic and trousers into battle.[192] They used composite bowsand were able to shoot at enemies while riding and facing away from them; this technique, known as the Parthian shot, was a highly effective tactic.[195] The heavy and light cavalry of Parthia proved to be a decisive factor in the Battle of Carrhae where a Persian force defeated a much larger Roman army under Crassus. Light infantry units, composed of levied commoners and mercenaries, were used to disperse enemy troops after cavalry charges.[196]
The size of the Parthian army is unknown, as is the size of the empire’s overall population. However, archaeological excavations in former Parthian urban centers reveal settlements which could have sustained large populations and hence a great resource in manpower.[197]Dense population centers in regions like Babylonia were no doubt attractive to the Romans, whose armies could afford to live off the land.
The Parthian Empire, being culturally and politically heterogeneous, had a variety of religious systems and beliefs, the most widespread being those dedicated to Greek and Iranian cults.[214] Aside from a minority of Jews[215] and early Christians,[216] most Parthians werepolytheistic.[217] Greek and Iranian deities were often blended together as one. For example, Zeus was often equated with Ahura Mazda,Hades with Angra Mainyu, Aphrodite and Hera with Anahita, Apollo with Mithra, and Hermes with Shamash.[218] Aside from the main gods and goddesses, each ethnic group and city had their own designated deities.[217] As with Seleucid rulers,[219] Parthian art indicates that the Arsacid kings viewed themselves as gods; this cult of the ruler was perhaps the most widespread.[220]
The extent of Arsacid patronism of Zoroastrianism is debated in modern scholarship.[221] The followers of Zoroaster would have found the bloody sacrifices of some Parthian-era Iranian cults to be unacceptable.[214] However, there is evidence that Vologeses I encouraged the presence of Zoroastrian magi priests at court and sponsored the compilation of sacred Zoroastrian texts which later formed the Avesta.[222]The Sassanid court would later adopt Zoroastrianism as the official state religion of the empire.[223]
Although Mani (216–276 AD), the founding prophet of Manichaeism, did not proclaim his first religious revelation until 228/229 AD, Bivar asserts that his new faith contained “elements of Mandaean belief, Iranian cosmogony, and even echoes of Christianity … [it] may be regarded as a typical reflection of the mixed religious doctrines of the late Arsacid period, which the Zoroastrian orthodoxy of the Sasanians was soon to sweep away.”[224]
There is scant archaeological evidence for the spread of Buddhism from the Kushan Empire into Iran proper.[225] However, it is known from Chinese sources that An Shigao (fl. 2nd century AD), a Parthian nobleman and Buddhist monk, traveled to Luoyang in Han China as aBuddhist missionary and translated several Buddhist canons into Chinese.

the Garden of Eden was situated at the head of the Persian Gulf

Juris Zarins From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Juris Zarins (Zariņš) (b. Germany 1945) is an American-Latvian archaeologist and professor at Missouri State University, who specializes in the Middle East. Zarins is ethnically Latvian, but was born in Germany at the end of the Second World War. His parents emigrated to the United States soon after […]

Juris Zarins

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Juris Zarins (Zari?š) (b. Germany 1945) is an American-Latvian archaeologist and professor at Missouri State University, who specializes in the Middle East.

Zarins is ethnically Latvian, but was born in Germany at the end of the Second World War. His parents emigrated to the United States soon after he was born. He graduated from high school in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1963 and earned a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Nebraska in 1967. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam before completing his Ph.D. in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Archaeology at the University of Chicago in 1974. He then served as archaeological adviser to the Department of Antiquities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia before coming to Missouri State in 1978.

Zarins has extensive experience in archaeological fieldwork in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Oman, and is now involved in a new project in Yemen. He was chief archaeologist for the Transarabia Expedition which made the famous discovery of the ancient city of Ubar in 1992. This made the headline of the New York Times, and it was also named one of the ten most important discoveries of the year by Discover, Time, and Newsweek magazines. The expedition was featured in a NOVA program called “In Search of the Lost City,” which was first broadcast in 1996.[1]

Zarins has published many articles on a number of topics concerning the archaeology of the Near East, which include the domestication of the horse, early pastoral nomadism, and the obsidian, indigo, and frankincense trades. He received an Excellence in Research Award from Missouri State in 1988. He has proposed that the Semitic languages arose as a result of a circum Arabian nomadic pastoral complex, which developed in the period of the desiccation of climates at the end of the pre-pottery phase in the Ancient Near East.

Zarins argued that the Garden of Eden was situated at the head of the Persian Gulf, where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers run into the sea, from his research on this area using information from many different sources, including LANDSAT images from space. In this theory, the Bible’s Gihon River would correspond with the Karun River in Iran, and the Pishon River would correspond to the Wadi Batin river system that once drained the now dry, but once quite fertile central part of the Arabian Peninsula. His suggestion about the Pishon River is supported by James. A Sauer (1945-1999) formerly of the American Center of Oriental Research [2] although strongly criticized by the archaeological community