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History of Mesopotamia: Ur, Chaldeans, Assyria, Babylon, Mede, Persia

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Ezra History


Jeremiah 626 – 585 BC

Ezekiel 593 – 571 BC

Daniel 605 – 536 BC

Ezra 4 Alleged Discrepancy

2 Explanations

1) Xerxes-Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes of Ezra 4:6,7-23 were respectively Cambyses (530-522) and Smerdis (522) – kings of Persia who reigned before Darius I, who frequently had two or more names

2) Ezra 4 grouped by theme instead of chronology – verses 6-23 serve as a parenthetical comment => In verse 24, the story picks up where it left off in verse 5.

Explanation 1:

Kings of Persia under the Persian Empire till Alexander the Great

· Cyrus II the Great, established the Persian Empire and ruled it from 550529

– 539 – Cyrus appointed his 62 year old general Darius the son of Ahasuerus, a Mede, governor over the conquered Chaldean kingdom (Daniel 9:1)

– 536 – Daniel died

– 535/536 – 1st Return: permitted rebuilding temple, rebuilding of the Jewish community

· Cambyses II, his son, ruled 530522

– Rebuilding of the Temple stopped until the second year of Darius I by letter from Samaritans to king

· Smerdis, his alleged brother, ruled 522.

· Darius I the Great, son of Hystaspes, ruled 522/1486 from age 28

– 520 – Haggai and Zechariah prophesy (Ezra 5:1) and rebuilding continued

– 520/19 – Darius issued a decree that the rebuilding of the Temple should resume without interference (Ezra 6:6-12)

– 516/515 – completion and dedication of the new temple, in the sixth year of Darius (515 BCE).

· Xerxes I = Ahasuerus, his son, ruled 486465/4.

– 479/478 – Esther made queen of Xerxes I (probably)

– 473: Jews delivered from death. Story between Ezra 6-7

· Artaxerxes I Longimanus, his son, ruled 464/5–424/3

– 458/7 – 2nd return Artaxerxes commissioned Ezra, a Jewish priest-scribe, by means of a letter of decree, to take charge of the ecclesiastical and civil affairs of the Israelite nation.

Ezra thereby left Babylon in the first month of the seventh year (~ 455 BC) of Artaxerxes’ reign

– 445/444 – 3rd return: Nehemiah permitted rebuilding city and wall

· Xerxes II, his son, ruled 424.

· Sogdianus, his half-brother, ruled 424423.

· Darius II Nothus, his half-brother and rival, ruled 423404.

· Artaxerxes II Memnon, his son, ruled 404358 (see also Xenophon).

· Artaxerxes III Ochus, his son, ruled 358338.

· Artaxerxes IV Arses, his son, ruled 338336.

· Darius III Codomannus, great-grandson of Darius II, ruled 336330.

· Artaxerxes V Bessus, a usurper who murdered Darius and continued the resistance against Alexander the Great from 330329.

Notes of Ur, Chaldeans, Assyria, Babylon, Mede, Persia

– Mesopotamia (is a Greek word meaning ‘between the rivers’) was a cradle of civilization geographically located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq

– Northern Mesopotamia = now southeastern Turkey

Ur Kaśdim or Ur of the Chaldees (אור כשדים) is the town in the Hebrew Bible and related literature where Abraham was said to have been born.

Chaldea (from Greek Χαλδαία, Chaldaia; Akkadian māt Kaldu, Arabic كلدان‎ )[1][2] “the Chaldees” of the KJV Old Testament, was a Hellenistic designation for a part of Babylonia, mainly around Sumerian Ur, which turned into an independent kingdom under the Chaldees. Known as “Ur of the Chaldees,” it went on war campaigns against foreign dynasties ruling southern Mesopotamia, mainly the Akkadians and the Babylonians. It turned into a Babylonian colony in the early days of Hammurabi, but remained in a special position in relation to other cities ruled by Babylon in that region.

– The earliest known inhabitants of Mesopotamia were the Sumerians, whom the Bible refers to as the people of the “land of Shinar” (Gen 10:10).

Babylon = city of ancient Mesopotamia built on Euphrates = present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers(55 mi) south of Baghdad.

Assyria was a region on the Upper Tigris river, now expanded to the northern half of Mesopotamia (the southern half being Babylonia), with Nineveh as its capital.

– Aramaic – Daniel, Ezra: written in Aramaic, Aramaic is a group of Semitic languages with a 3,000-year history. Aramaic was the native language of Jesus. Modern Aramaic is spoken today as a first language by numerous, scattered communities, most significantly by Assyrians. Aramaeans = the native speakers of Aramaic. Language of Assyro-Babylonic period.

– The Median language (also Medean or Medic) is the language of the Iranian Medes.[1] Together with Kurdish, Parthian, Zazaki, and Baluchi, the language of the Medes is classified as a northwestern Iranian language. [2]

– Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of ancient Median and Persian empires, including the Achaemenid Empire and in several of their heirs, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires.

Sumer (from the time of the earliest records in the mid 4th millennium BC until the rise of Babylonia in the late 3rd millennium BC.)

– Sumer was the earliest known civilization of the ancient Near East, located in lower Mesopotamia (modern Iraq)

– 2750 BC – A Semitic people: the Akkadians begin to settle

– 2600 BC – Ur is a leading center of civilization Sargon I becomes King-founds Akkadian dynasty

Akkadian Empire

– Sargon the Great (2350 – 2330), from one of the Sumerian cities, united the people of Babylonia under his rule about 2300 B.C. Many scholars believe that Sargon of Akkad might have been the same person as Nimrod (Gen 10:8).

– Nimrod was a descendant of Noah’s son, Ham -> Towel of Babel (Genesis 10:10, that, after the great flood, all men spoke one common language and a man named Nimrod built a city and established a common religion.)

– Earliest mention of the city of Babylon can be found in a tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad, dating back to the 23rd century BC.

Third dynasty of Ur (2100 BC – ) forms extensive empire in Babylonia. Revival of the Sumerians as a political power

The Old Babylonian Period (2000-1595 BC)

– The Babylonian language was a dialect of Akkadian, a Semitic language

– Most scholars date the beginning of Babylonia to the fall of the third dynasty of Ur, around 2000 BC because many Amorites apparently migrated from the desert into Mesopotamia.

– The Amorites were a group of Semitic speaking nomads, who captured the local city-states where they established new dynasties and adapted to the culture of the surrounding area.

– The Amorites had helped destroy the Sumerian civilization and dominated Mesopotamia for about 300 years (1900-1600 BC). They ruled the land out of the city of Babylon. But soon the Amorite immigrants and the previous locals began fighting for power, in this caused considerable confusion during this early period.
Rise of Babylonia (state in southern Mesopotamia)

– Sixth ruler, Hammurabi (17801750 BC, dates highly uncertain) emerged as the ruler of Babylonia. He expanded the borders of the Empire and organized its laws into a written system, also known as the Code of Hammurapi.

– About this time Abraham left Ur, an ancient city located in lower Babylon, and moved to Haran, a city in the north. Later, Abraham left Haran and migrated into the land of Canaan under God’s promise that he would become the father of a great nation (Gen 12).

– Ur was an ancient city in southern Mesopotamia, located near the mouth (at the time) of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers on the Persian Gulf and close to Eridu. It is considered to be one of the earliest known civilizations in world history

– Throughout the long period of Babylonia history, the Babylonians achieved a high level of civilization that made an impact on the whole known world. Sumerian culture was its basis, which later Babylonians regarded as traditional.

The Middle Babylonian Period (1595-1000 BC)

– Mursilis I, king of the Hittites in Anatolia (Asia Minor), invaded Babylonia by surprise and sacked Babylon (1595 BC), ending first dynasty of Babylon, yet withdrew from the area after he had exceeded.

Kassite Dynasty

– The Kassites (from mountains of Iran) saw this power vacuum and seized control, established a dynasty in Babylonia – foreign domination of 36 kings for 576 years and 9 months

– In the area of religion, the Sumerians already had a system of gods, each with a main temple in each city. The chief gods were Anu, god of heaven; Enlil, god of the air; and Enki or Ea, god of the sea. Others were Shamash, the sungod; Sin, the moon-god; Ishtar, goddess of love and war; and Adad, the storm-god. The Amorites promoted the god Marduk at the city of Babylon, so that he became the chief god of the Babylonian religion, starting around 1100 BC.

– About 1270 BC, the Assyrians overpowered Babylonia. For the next 700 years, Babylonia was a lesser power as the Assyrians dominated the ancient world.

ISIN OR PASHE DYNASTY (11 Kings; began to rule about 1172 BC)

– Elam and Assyria end the Kassite dynasty (1155 BC)

– Nebuchadnezzar I (1125-1104 BC). A successful war against Elam resulted in bringing back the divine image of Marduk from the Elamites who had carried it off at the fall of the Kassite dynasty. Marduk was once again installed in his temple in Babylon and for the first time publicly declared “King of all gods”, even above the ancient god An of the Sumerians. Nebuchadnezzar did a great deal of building both in Babylon and other Babylonian cities. He protected the plain and made Babylonia prosperous.

– Toward the end of the millennium Babylonia was raided continuously by a group of nomads called the Aramaeans. Gradually the Aramaeans created so much chaos and confusion across the Babylonian plain that Babylonia entered into another dark phase in her history. Though these people caused much disruption they eventually settled down and became part of Babylonian society. Because of them some changes did occur, for example the Aramaic language soon replaced Babylonian as a common language. Babylonian continued to be written and spoken by the educated classes.

The Neo-Babylonian Period (1000-539 BC)


– Alongside of Babylonia there must also be a mention of Assyria, which bordered Babylonia on the north. Assyria’s development was often intertwined with the course of Babylonian history.

– 1000 BC – Assyria becomes more important and begins to form an empire

– 9th Century – During this time Assyria was the weaker of the two powers

– 8th Century – the political power in Babylonia passed back and forth between the Chaldeans, the Assyrians and Babylonians

– Nabu-nasir (747-734 BC) ushered in a new era in Babylonian history during his reign. The practice of astrology became highly developed and worship of astrological deities was popular among the people.

– During Nabu-nasir’s reign a great Assyrian king named Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 BC) marched right into Babylonia and took the crown for himself.

Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-612BC)

– The Neo-Assyrian Empire is usually considered to have begun with the accession of Adad-nirari II, in 911 BC, lasting until the fall of Nineveh at the hands of the Babylonians in 612 BC.

– Sennacherib, 705 – 681 BC

Babylon beseiged by Sennacherib of Assyria (689 BC), assumed direct control

– A major rebellion broke out and lasted for four years (652-648 BC) during the reign of Shamash-shuma-ukin, an Assyrian king (brother of the new Assyrian monarch Ashurbanipal (668-627 BC)) who had been placed to rule in what was left of Babylon.

– About 20 years after this rebellion, the Chaldeans regrouped and gained control of the whole Babylonian plain. The famous leader of the Chaldean dynasty was Nabopolassar (625-605 BC). Around 626 BC, Babylonian independence was finally won from Assyria by a leader named Nabopolassar. Under his leadership, Babylonia again became the dominant imperial power in the Near East and thus entered into her “golden age.”

– In 605 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II, the son of Nabopolassar, became ruler and reigned for 44 years.

– The Battle of Carchemish (famous battle for world supremacy where Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated Pharoah Necho of Egypt, 605 BC.)

Median Dynasty (728–550 BC)

Neo-Babylonian Empire (Chaldean Era) / Chaldean Dynasty / 11th Dynasty of Kings of Babylon (626-539 BC)

– The term Neo-Babylonian or Chaldean refers to Babylonia under the rule of the 11th (“Chaldean”) dynasty, from the revolt of Nabopolassar in 626 BC until the invasion of Cyrus the Great in 539 BC, notably including the reign of Nebuchadnezzar.

Mede (king Cyaxares) together with the Chaldeans defeated the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Assyria finally succumbed to the rise of Chaldean dynasty, with the Fall of Nineveh in 612 B.

– The Medes were able to establish their own empire after Neo-Assyrian. Medes were an ancient Iranian people, northwestern portions of present-day Iran.

– Under Nabopolassar, Babylon threw off the Assyrian rule in 626 BC, and became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. His son Nebuchadnezzar II (605–562 BC) made Babylon into one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon married a daughter of Cyaxares, and an equilibrium of the great powers (Mede and Babylon) was maintained until the rise of the Persians under Cyrus. Astyages = son of Cyaxares. Amytis, Astyages’ sister, queen of Nebuchadrezzar, whom he built the the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for.

Persian/Anshan Achaemenid dynasty, 550–330 BC

Achaemenes, founder of the dynasty, king of Persia, perhaps just a warrior?

Teispes of Anshan, his son, king of Persia, king of Anshan, died 640.

-> split 2 kingdoms, namely Anshan and Persia

– Persia: Ariaramnes, Arsames reigned till 550 -> (His son Hystaspes was Satrap of Parthia under Cambyses II, Smerdis and his son Darius, not king)

– Anshan: Cyrus I, Cambyses I

=> Cyrus II the Great, son of Cambyses I Anshan King at 550 BC established Persian Empire (not kingdom)

Persia captures Babylon

– Astyages arranged a marriage between Mandane (daughter) and Cambyses I of Anshan (southwest Iran) (“quiet and thoughtful prince” of little power) fearing over nightmare of grandson taking over throne, as quoted by Harpagus

– In 553 BC, Cyrus the Great rebelled against his grandfather (mother’s side), the Mede King Astyages, son of Cyaxares.

– He finally won a decisive victory in 550 BC resulting in Astyages’ capture by his own dissatisfied nobles (general Harpagus probably), who promptly turned him over to the triumphant Cyrus.

– Cyrus established a unified Iranian empire of the Medes and Persians, often referred to as the Achaemenid Persian Empire (along with Persian and Anshan)

– Babylon now = administrative capital of the Persian Empire

Hellenistic period

– In 331 BC, Darius III was defeated by the forces of the Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela, and in October, Babylon fell to the young conqueror.

Alexander and the Greeks

– From the time of the first Sumerian cities (c 3500 BC) to the invasion of Mesopotamia by Alexander the Great, King of Macedon (331 BC) there was essentially only one civilization in Mesopotamia although there were many waves of immigrants.

– The immigrants during that period did not have any well-structured culture or civilization until they adopted the culture of the city dwellers. Of course these people brought some things with them. The invaders had different languages and more importantly they had a tribal society with tribal customs. However after a few generations living in cities these tribal customs were virtually forgotten. The newcomers also had different views on some aspects, such as war. Sumerian kings boasted of the periods of peace they had brought their kingdoms, whereas the Akkadians, a Semitic people, boasted of their great victories. However there were only minor differences in Mesopotamian civilization until the introduction of Hellenism (Greek culture) with the invasion by Alexander.

– The Greeks were a people with a long history of civilization. They imposed this civilization on all the people they conquered, building new cities with Greek civilizations. Babylon was no longer the principal city in the area and began to decline. As Babylon declined so did the Mesopotamian civilization. The old customs were forgotten or not performed. The old gods were abandoned. The old cities, the great cities of Sumer and Akkad, such as Babylon and Ur, Uruk and Eridu, Lagash and Isin declined to insignificance.

Stone Age


The Old Stone Age or Paleolithic comprises more than a million years, and during this period major climate and other changes occurred which affected the evolution of humans. Humans themselves evolved into their current morphological form during the later period of the Stone Age.


The period between the end of the last ice age, 10,000 years ago to around 6,000 years ago, was characterised by rising sea levels and a need to adapt to a changing environment and find new food sources. The development of microlith tools began in response to these changes. They were derived from the previous Palaeolithic tools, hence the term Epipalaeolithic. However, in Europe the term Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) is used, as the tools (and way of life) was imported from the Near East. There, microlith tools permitted more efficient hunting, while more complex settlements, such as Lepenski Vir developed based around fishing. Domestication of the dog as a hunting companion probably dates to this.


The Neolithic, New Stone Age, was characterized by the adoption of agriculture, the so-called Neolithic Revolution, the development of pottery and more complex, larger settlements such as Çatal Hüyük and Jericho. The first Neolithic cultures started around 7000 BC in the fertile crescent. Agriculture and the culture it led to spread to the Mediterranean, the Indus valley, China and Southeast Asia.

Bronze Age

The Bronze Age in the Near East is divided into three main periods (the dates are very approximate):


Early Bronze Age (c. 3500-2000 BCE)


Middle Bronze Age (c. 2000-1600 BCE)


Late Bronze Age (c. 1600-1100 BCE)

Iron Age

Classically, the Iron Age is taken to begin in the 12th century BC in the ancient Near East, ancient India (with the post-Rigvedic Vedic civilization), and ancient Greece (with the Greek Dark Ages).






One thought on “History of Mesopotamia: Ur, Chaldeans, Assyria, Babylon, Mede, Persia

  1. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
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