Neo-Babylonian Empire

Neo-Babylonian Empire

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Neo-Babylonian Empire

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The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire was a period of Mesopotamian history which began in 626 BC and ended in 539 BC. During the preceding three centuries, Babylonia had been ruled by their fellow Akkadian speakers and northern neighbours, Assyria. Throughout that time Babylonia enjoyed a prominent status. The Assyrians had managed to maintain Babylonian loyalty through the Neo-Assyrian period, whether through granting of increased privileges, or militarily, but that finally changed in 627 BC with the death of the last strong Assyrian ruler, Assurbanipal, and Babylonia rebelled under Nabopolassar the Chaldean the following year. In alliance with the Medes, the city of Nineveh was sacked in 612 BC, and the seat of empire was again transferred to Babylonia. This period witnessed a great flourishing of architectural projects, the arts and science.

Neo-Babylonian rulers were deeply conscious of the antiquity of their heritage, and pursued an arch-traditionalist policy, reviving much of their ancient Sumero-Akkadian culture. Even though Aramaic had become the everyday tongue, Akkadian was restored as the language of administration and culture. Archaic expressions from 1,500 years earlier were reintroduced in Akkadian inscriptions, along with words in the now-long-unspoken Sumerian language. Neo-Babylonian cuneiform script was also modified to make it look like the old 3rd-millennium BC script of Akkad.

Ancient artworks from the heyday of Babylonia's imperial glory...
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