ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Babylon and Assyria

Updated on August 30, 2015

Background Check- Sargon's Rule

Sargon's reign of Mesopotamia began in the year 2334 B.C. His empire would rule for the next 100 years. Under Sargon's rule, the city-states of Sumer united, and the empire's boundaries expanded. A new capital was built, trade routes were established, and the Sumerian development of cuneiform writing allowed for ease of sending messages throughout the kingdom.

Historians have used Sumerian cuneiform records to gather clues about the way ancient Sumerians lived. Sumerian records include the legends of heroes, poetry, and written accounts of their governing laws.

Beyond their use of written word, the Sumerians made a number of major technological advances. It is believed that Sumerian farmers were the first to use the wheel for farming. Did they invent the wheel? I've not heard of any such claim, but the wheel did have an effect on their culture.

Horses and cattle had already been domesticated by Sumerian farmers, but the use of the wheel made it possible for the Sumerians to transport both trade goods and people more quickly. Wheeled plows enabled farmers to utilize larger areas and produce more food, carts pulled by horses could move faster than travelers on foot, and the eventual use of chariots created terrifying new tactics in warfare.

Sargon was both a brilliant administrator and warrior. As ruler, he believed in the "hands on" approach when dealing with his people, and over the course of his 56-year reign he traveled constantly. Moving from city to city was important to this ruler; he didn't just want his people to know who their ruler was, he wanted them to feel his presence, and they did. Every city he visited suffered shortages of food, money, and lodging when he arrived with his army in tow. Feeding and housing the King and his retinue would have caused the even the most loyal of citizens anguish, as he often traveled with a group that numbered more than five thousand. His visits frequently sparked riots and rebellion. None-the-less; Sargon's empire flourished, his army became a military juggernaut, and his capital the most powerful city in the world.


Hammurabi and Babylon

By 2150 B.C., Sargon's empire had collapsed, but thanks to surviving recorded legends and histories his memory lives on. Rulers would come and go, cities would be built, but it would be another 358 years before another ruler would conquer and reunite the Mesopotamian city-states once under Sargon's control. That ruler's name was Hammurabi.

Babylon served as Hammurabi's home and capital, and as its king, his first major project was the construction of dams across the Euphrates River. Dams gave him the ability to control the flow of the river's water, and in turn, the power to control the city-states downstream. Lack of cooperation would result in floods or droughts; to work against the king would bring certain disaster to every city-state located south of Babylon's border.

By 1750 B.C.. Hammurabi ruled all of Mesopotamia, including Ashur and Nineveh. Trade flourished within the Fertile Crescent, and Babylon as the center of that trade reaped massive amounts of wealth. Silver, copper, timber, and wine all passed through Babylon, and Hammurabi fashioned himself "king of the four quarters of the world."

He used administrative techniques similar to those of Sargon, but he also relied on a centralized bureaucratic rule and imposed regular taxation on his people. Unlike Sargon, he also stayed close to home, preferring to rule from Babylon and depending on territorial deputies to control specific regions. As a result, government costs were more fairly spread throughout the empire.

Hammurabi also preserved his rule by imposing a code of law, which was heavily based on the principle lex talionis, or "law of retaliation." Discovered in the Middle East (present-day Iran) in 1901, the six-foot pillar on which Hammurabi's codes are carved in cuneiform was a rare and educational, archeological discovery. And as one of the oldest and most complete set of laws ever discovered, the codex also gives us a view of Mesopotamian culture, customs, and taboos.

The Code of Hammurabi
The Code of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi

Beginning with its preamble, the code establishes Hammurabi's right of authority and states that the gods have blessed his rule and desire that, ".... Hammurabi, the exalted prince, the worshipper of the gods, to cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil, to go forth like the Sun over the Black Head Race, to enlighten the land and further the welfare of the people." The rest of the preamble extols his achievements as king, providing a basis for his worthiness to act as the gods' prophet.

The Code of Hammurabi is a set of laws that apply to a people ruled by a single government and copies were prominently displayed across the empire. Citizens were not expected to use these codes as a basis for their behavior, but rather they were expected to obey them to the letter. Hammurabi's codes were detailed and extensive, they set high standards, and they also promised stern punishments. The death penalty was imposed for murder, theft, fraud, false accusations, aiding runaway slaves, and incest, among other things. Most all punishments mirrored the offense (an eye for an eye), whereas civil laws were implemented to regulate prices, wages, marital relationships, and slavery. There were even fines for clumsy barbers.......... No lie!

But make no mistake, although the code emphatically supported the rights of slaves, as well as free men, and that as much as the punishment mirrored the offense......... equality was not present among the people. Nobles could protect their body parts with a payment of silver........... commoners and slaves had no such luck. Such is the way of the world.


Assyria Takes a Stand

Despite administrative and legal efficiency, Hammurabi's empire weakened after his death. The empire he'd created beckoned to invaders and those desiring to expand their own boundaries. Among the first cities to break away were Ashur and Ninevah, both located north of Babylon. Then the wars began, as Assyria set out to conquer the Fertile Crescent in its entirety.

By 600 B.C., the Assyrian Empire had expanded northward into modern day Turkey, while stretching from Egypt in the west to the Persian Gulf in the east. Assyria boasted a fearsome army and major technological advances in warfare that aided them in their conquest. Not to mention the prisoners of war who were forced into slavery and soon to become the empire's most valued workforce, but that story is for another day.......


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • awdur profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for your comments Ruth! Me too :-D

    • Ruth Angel profile image

      Ruth Mata 

      3 years ago from New Mexico

      I adore ancient history. Great post!

    • awdur profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you Larry!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very engaging and educational overview.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)