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Empire of Assiria, ca.
at MyHistoryLab.com CRAIMC01_001-039hr.qxp 8/12/10 3:57 PM Page 23 Chapter 1 against which traditional Middle Eastern armies were ineffective. The Medes attacked Assyria and were joined by the
Babylonians, who had always been restive under Assyrian
rule, under the leadership of a general named Nebuchadnezzar. In 612 B.C.E., they so thoroughly destroyed the Assyrian cities, including Nineveh, that Assyria never recovered. The ruins of the great Assyrian palaces lay untouched
until archaeologists began to explore them in the nineteenth
century. The Neo-Babylonians
The Medes did not follow up on
their conquests, so Nebuchadnezzar took over much of the Assyrian
Empire. Under him and his successors, Babylon grew into one of the greatest cities of
the world. The Greek traveler Herodotus described its wonders, including its great temples, fortification walls, boulevards, parks, and palaces, to a Greek readership that had
never seen the like. Babylon prospered as a center of world
trade, linking Egypt, India, Iran, and Syria-Palestine by land
and sea routes. For centuries, an astronomical center at
Babylon kept detailed records of observations that were the
longest running chronicle of the ancient world. Nebuchadnezzar’s dynasty did not last long, and the government
passed to various men in rapid succession. The last independent king of Babylon set up a second capital in the Arabian Desert and tried to force the Babylonians to honor the
moon god above all other gods. He allowed dishonest or incompetent speculators to lease huge areas of temple land
for their personal profit. These policies proved unpopular—
some said that the king was insane—and many Babylonians
may have welcomed the Persian conquest that came in 539
See the Map
The Neo-Babylonian Empire,
ca. 580 B.C.E.
at MyHistoryLab.com Chronology
Key Events in the History of Ancient Near Eastern
Empires The Birth of Civilization 23 B.C.E. After that, Babylonia began another, even more prosperous phase of its history as one of the most important
provinces of another great Eastern empire, that of the
Persians. We shall return to the Persians in Chapter 4. Early Indian Civilization
To the east of Mesopotamia, beyond the Iranian plateau
and the mountains of Baluchistan, the Asian continent
projects sharply southward below the Himalayan mountain
barrier to form the Indian subcontinent (see Map 1–4 on
page 24). Several sizable rivers flow west and south out of
the Himalayas in Kashmir and the Punjab (Panjab, “five
rivers”), merging into the single stream of the Indus River
in Sind before emptying into the Indian Ocean. The headwaters of south Asia’s other great river system—the
Ganges and its tributaries—are also in the Himalayas but
flow south and east to the Bay of Bengal on the opposite
side of the subcontinent.
The earliest evidence of a settled, Neolithic way of
life on the subcontinent comes from the foothills of Sind
and Baluchistan and dates to about 5500 B.C.E., with...
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