CITIES OF ALEXANDER’S WORLD: BABYLON

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The Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar II (604-561 BC) was responsible for making Babylon into one of the wonders of the ancient world. He is the Biblical king who sacked Jerusalem and carried off 10,000 captives to help  him build his monumental capital. He is credited with constructing the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. (There have been recent reports that archaeologists may have located the actual site of the gardens). They are described as “built with roofs from trunks of cedar wood”. Nebuchadnezzar also built the city gates which were decorated with huge bronze bulls. 350px-Hanging_Gardens_of_Babylon

In 539 BC the Babylonian Empire fell to Cyrus the Great, King of Persia who sacked and burned the city. Under Cyrus and later the Persian King Darius the Great, Babylon became the administrative capital of the Persian Empire. It was a centre of learning and scientific advancement. Astronomy and mathematics flourished.

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The city remained under Persian Rule for two centuries until Alexander the Great rode into Babylon in 331 BC after Darius III, the last Achaemenid king was defeated and killed by his own men.

After Alexander returned from his campaigns in the East in 331 BC, he was warned by the seers not to go into the city. It was summer and the heat was oppressive. His advisors encouraged him to go instead to the summer palace at Susa. There had been adverse omens the Magi advised him against entering Babylon. Alexander scoffed at the omens and made his way into the city. Not long afterwards, after a few nights of excessive drinking, Alexander died. He was 33 years old.