And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there. But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there owls will dwell and there wild goats will dance. Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged.
Isaiah 13:19-21 ESV
Babylon first became an important city under Hammurabi (1792-50 BC). During its long history, it passed back and forth between the Assyrians and Aramaean or Chaldean tribesmen. In 626 BC, Nabopolassar, a Chaldean leader, made Babylon capital of a kingdom under his son, Nebuchadnezzar II.
Under Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon became the largest city in the then-known world. He undertook major rebuilding and fortification projects and is famous for the hanging gardens of Babylon, which were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Nebuchadnezzar also “…conquered Syria and Palestine. He is best remembered for the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem in 587 BC and for the ensuing Babylonian captivity of the Jews” (Encyclopedia Brittanica p. 771).
Under Belshazzar, Babylon fell to Cyrus the Persian (539 BC), who conquered the city, it is said, by diverting the Euphrates river which ran through her and walking under the city gates. In 331 BC, the city surrendered to Alexander the Great who died in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace in 323 BC. After this, Babylon passed to the Seleucid dynasty in 312 BC and eventually was abandoned.
For generations the site of Babylon was an extensive field of ruins. Attempts have been made at different times to rebuild some of its buildings, but it still remains largely uninhabited and exists today as a tourist attraction where people can not only visit what is left of the ruins, but also buildings put up by Saddam Hussein.
Photo by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg), CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons