Age of Gold for Babylon
By: Adrienne Heinz


At the beginning of the sixth century BC under the rule of Neubuchadnezzar, Babylon became reborn from the recent successful conquests and new wealth. After the Babylonians had promoted resistance under Sennacherib, their city had been destroyed only one hundred years earlier.
Babylon first blossomed under the rule of Hammurabi. At the end of his reign Babylon had dominated an empire that stretched reaching almost to the sources of the Euphrates and down to the river's disgorging point in the Persian Gulf. After Hammurabi's reign Babylon, meaning the Gates of God, went through a period of over 400 years of independence. Inevitably Babylon was brought down under the rule of the Assyrians, though in 612 BC the father of Neubuchadnezzar, Nabopolassar, took advantage of the Assyrians weakness to conquer its empire and bring Babylon back to its original standing.
As Babylon's golden age was born there was much work to be done to satisfy Nebuchadnezzar's determination to make his capital a masterpiece in its self. His spendthrift ways resulted in a city of awe. The entrance to Babylon, the Ishtar Gate, was decorated with glazed bricks and tiles of many beautiful colors.
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, was constructed inside the walls rising 82 feet high similar in shape to a ziggurat. It is thought that this masterpiece was build to please one of the king's Persian concubines who longed for the mountains of her homeland. The terraces were kept plush and green by water pumped from wells and springs.
A processional street known in native tongue as May the Enemy Not Have Victory was opened unto by the Ishtar Gate. It led past the palace of Nebuchadnezzar on towards to Esagila, a great temple dedicated to the Babyonian's patron god, Marduk. More then 1000 acres of densely packed homes dotted with smaller temples and markets on both the east and west banks of the Euphrates river. This fortress with a population of as many as 150,000 to 200,000 people was heavily protected by a canal feed by the Euphrates and by walls 18 feet thick at the base with an eleven mile circumference.
The varied culture making up Babylon's population was largely due to history of conquers and being conquered. These cultures included the Hittites, Assyrians, Aramaens, Chaldeans, Cassites, Hurrians, Elamites, and deported from Jerusalem by Neubuchadnazzar, thousands of Jews.
In Babylon a great division between classes especially slave and free along with the difference in the vast numbers of personnel for the temple and for regular society. The priests of the Esigila temple had much control over more than half the land and the empire's economy. This included traders and craftsmen along with thousands of farmers who worked temple lands for a share in the produce. In order to keep up repair of the canals in which shipping and the irrigation of the country's fields depended on slaves had to form work gangs.
The secular work force had many of the same professions and crafts, as did the temple economy. Many remains of clay tablets mention apprentices, master craftsmen, along with guilds in such trades as coppersmiths, boatmen, confectioners, canal diggers, fowlers, brickmakers, leatherworkers, and brewers. Only for boys preparing to be scribes at the temple or royal court was it a possibility to attend formal school.
Most houses were built around an enclosed courtyard with only a single door opening into the street because Babylonians treasured privacy for their families. Most house layouts consisted of a large family room adjoining to the courtyard attached with several small bedrooms. A kitchen could be located on the opposite side of the courtyard and if the family was well off had quarters for two to three slaves.
Babylonians rose early in order to be bathed and dressed to perform religious rites upon the roof at dawn while the women prepared a big breakfast for the men after they were done. After making a sacrifice at one of the small temples which was one of the Babylonians morning activities, The family would get together for a light lunch followed by a siesta which was the hottest part of the day. Work continued from mid-afternoon until the people returned home for their second principal meal. Story-telling and many of