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Babylon

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Chapter Summary

Babylon was an Assyrian city, the greatest after the fall of Nineveh. The written sources available for reconstructing Babylonia's history in the time of the Neo-Babylonian rulers and then under the Achaemenids are extensive and diverse, although their distribution is uneven in time and space. The Babylonian empire was undoubtedly the largest, most highly evolved and complex polity conquered by Cyrus. The picture of Babylonia and its capital which we can disengage from the sources differs in many fundamentals from that of Herodotus. Babylon was never ruled by a queen. The two images: Herodotean and Babylonian cannot easily be harmonized, and attempts to do so remain methodologically questionable. A tribute to Herodotus' skill as a writer is that, despite the enormous volume of local material now available, his sketch of the country and its inhabitants continues to play a potent role in contemporary ideas about Babylonia.

Keywords: Achaemenids; Babylon; contemporary ideas; Herodotus; Nineveh

10.1163/9789004217584_022
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