The First Civilization: Sumerians


GILGAMESH (2700s B.C.)

A priest-king of the Sumerian city of Uruk (Bible: Erech), who built a 6 mi. wall around it for defense. Sargon was later to destroy this wall. But it was in death that he became immortalized, as the main character in the first piece of great literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh. Great literature is so because it helps answer some of the questions that are the permenant concerns of mankind, such as, "How should I live?" or "What is justice?" Here, Gilgamesh discovers the dignity of mortality. The ruins of  Uruk were found in 2003, and are being excavated presently amid the chaos in Iraq. Right: Bust of Gilgamesh.




The Sumerians started calling their priest-kings 'Lugal' (big man), especially if they were successful in battle. King lists were dawn up in many cities, indicating how they kept time. Lugal-Zaggisi was a powerful king who went out from his minor city (Umma) and fought and defeated the lugals of other, larger, city states: like Lagash and Uruk. This victory would not last long... for a new conquerer would emerge from outside of Sumer, in the center of Mesopotamia.



GUDEA (2100s B.C.)

150 years after Sargon, Sumerian cultural ways persisted in Mesopotamia, and were even adopted by the ruling Akkadians. Cuneiform writing, ziggurat temples for city gods, and urban division of labor all continued. Akkadian language, however, became dominant, replacing Sumerian. Eventually, central control weakened and collapsed. Gudea was a Sumerian ruler of a neo-Sumerian, post-Akkadian period, of the city of Lagash, along with some other city- states. He had irrigation channels revitalized and managed a wide trade area (to Arabia, Sinai & Levant). At this time at Ur, a great ziggurat, 45 ft. high, was built, with huge stairs so the gods might come out to visit.









The Standard of Ur from Sumeria: note war side and peace side




Some figurines from Sumeria  




An early cuneiform tablet uncovered in Mesopotamia




The Great Ziggurat at Ur in Sumer




In the early 20th Century, the Temple was excavated and restored in modern Iraq




At Uruk (Erech), excavations have begun




Reconstruction of the city-state of Eridu




Eridu today- a tell in the desert






The first great empire-builder of history, Sargon's city was called Akkad (Gr. Agade). Using bow and arrows and spears, he led his forces south to defeat the civilized cities (including Lugal-Zaggisi's) one by one, unifying them under his control and beginning an Age of Empires (an empire is a heterogeneous territories brought under the rule of an emperor). He is the first to be called "The Great," and he really was a smart guy, good at propoganda: his daughter write poetry on the theme of unity between Sumerians and Akkadians, and he paraded criminals in front of city temples and proclaimed how the gods were 'on his side.'



The first emperor: Sargon's death mask superimposed by a ziggurat

 what did his daughter write to help bond Sumerians and Akkadians?





HAMMURABI (1700s B.C.)

Emperor of Babylon whose city on the Euphrates River became great. He is promotor of Hammurabi's Code, the oldest known law code (1792). "An eye for an eye," it said on stele that were placed strategically in cities so people could see the rules. Preamble: "Hammurabi, exaulted prince, who entreats Marduk to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and evil-doers, who rules over the black-headed people (Sumerians had dark hair), who makes riches, who enriched Ur, who laid the foundations of Babylon, who brought plenteous water to its inhabitants..."






The Tower of Babel, Mesopotamia- did it really look like this?




This is Ishtar, the goddess of fertility and revelry of the Babylonians




Modern art of Ishtar, shown in color with a ziggurat in the background

What were the big elephant stairs on the ziggurats for?




The chief god of Babylonian dominated Mesopotamia- Marduk

the more successful the city, the more prestigeous the gods of the city




An actual specimin of the Code of Hammurabi

 Here Marduk "gives" the code to Hammurabi- legitimizing it






During the Indo-European migrations around 2000 B.C., some, the Hittites, came south to Anatolia at the same time others went west to become the Greeks. Hattusisis was not the first ruler of the Indo-European Hittites in Anatolia, but the first to extend Hittite power throughout the penninsula and south to the Levant. He then built the fortress citadel at Hattusa, which became the center of Hittite power. A cuneiform tablet found in 1957 discusses his deeds. The Hittites brought the horse and chariot to the complex of the Near Eastern civilizations.







The location today of Hattusilis, modern central Turkey- who could tell it was an ancient capital?




the old city gates of the Hittite capital




the Hittites real advancement, widespread use of the war chariot as shown in their art




The Hittites made the earliest known peace treaty with the Egyptians after the

Battle of Kadesh (1100s BC). It is now symbolically hung in the lobby of the UN building






Shalmanesser III was Emperor of Assyria. With superior iron weapons, he led constant campaigns, wide-ranging, against Syria, Mesopotamia, the Hebrews, Urartu (Armenia), Babylon and more. In Nimrud he build a stone palace, part of which is still standing, and he forced the Hittite remnants to pay tribute, testifying that 300 years after the sea peoples did their damage, the Hittite kingdom was a rump, later to be reconstituted as the Lydian and Cappadocian kingdoms, in which significant strains of Hittite blood were present.




Known as Pul in Biblical history, TP III was a mighty Emperor of Assyria. Using harsh tactics in which he incorporated fear and state-sponsored terrorism, and cruel practices of population culling, subdivision and resettlement, TP III laid down the iron fist. He ordered that the provinces be divided up so that no one province would have the critical mass of unified people needed to enact a revolt. To this end, he separated conquered peoples, tens of thousands of subjects, from their homes, and resettled them far from those who shared their identity.


SARGON II (700s B.C.)

"The Legitimate King." A natural born conquerer who took the power of Assyria to Babylonia, Armenia, Philistia and Israel, among others. Reorganized administration into 70 imperial provinces. Even his name was propaganda: it harked back to the original empire-builder Sargon of Akkad. At the height of his power, Sargon II was cut down in a battle with the Cimmerians... leaving all Assyria to little Sennacherib.




Sennacherib's reign over Assyria did not focus on military expansion, but building projects. Stopped a rebellion by a Babylonian king allied with Chaldeans, Aramaens and Elamites by riding with Phoenician sailors down the Tigris. Later the Hebrew Hezekiah revolted, and he went to Israel and laid seige to 46 cities with battering rams to win the day. 10 of the 12 Israelite tribes were carried off never to be heard from again. Psalm 46 speaks of the joy of the last two tribes in surviving.




The last Assyrian ruler, and probably the greatest... in an overall sense. For Ashurbanipal was a learned man. He built the first library in the ancient world, to catalog all the knowledge then known, as a precursor to the Library at Alexandria and the Library of Congress.





The key to Assyrian power: cruely, intimidation, and the weapons to back it up




not only great conquerers, Assyrians advanced cuneiform writing




The Assyrians gain the chariot... to dreadful effects on the peoples of Mesopotamia

 They built an imperial capital- Nineveh- on the Tigris River




Assyrian Imperial Palace at Nippur- note propanda images of peasants giving tribute




Palace of Emperor Sargon II at Khorsabad- long gone with time




The Famous Winged Bulls from the Palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad




Nineveh today- its hard to imagine that this was once the capital of the

ancient Near East- maybe nothing does last forever...






The Babylonians brought down Assyria and assumed lordship over its territory. Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest Emperor of Babylon during the following 100 years of glory. He took Egypt, rebuilt the city, including the Hanging Gardens. To make the gardens bloom, a moat was flooded from the Euphrates and water brought by simple machines to the top terraces, which then circled down the structure to remind his Persian wife of home. Eight mile walls encircled the city, the Ishtar Gate with its glazed tiles, led to the ziggurat temple of Marduk- known by the Israelites as the Tower of Babel. He sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple of Solomon, and carried the two Hebrew tribes into the Babylonian Captivity for 50 years.






The Ishtar Gate at Babylon




The Hanging Gardens of Babylon- the dominant city of ancient times




A reconstruction of Babylon's wall system in a museum in Berlin

compare it with the current photo of this site:




Saddam Hussein had a presidential palace built here, so he could watch

the excavation of Babylon and the Hanging Gardens




We haven't seen many women so far. Patriarchal societies are the norm in human history... until now?













CYRUS (500s B.C.)

Founder of the Persian Empire after leading a rebellion against Babylon. Cyrus built the biggest of all ancient empires.



Also called Zarathustra, like in Neitzsche, Zoroaster taught a new belief system called Zoroastrianism which took hold in Persia and was the religion of the region for 900 years, until the Arab conquest of the Sassanian Dynasty and imposition of Islam.


GIMILLU (500s B.C.)

An infamously corrupt satrapy official who collected taxes and embezzled money. But he was probably the exception. Persia was known for its effective administration and tolerance. John Green on Crash Course even speculated whether it would have been better if Persia had defeated the Greeks in their wars... probably not.


DARIUS (500 B.C.)

This emperor had big shoes to fill. Cyrus conquered so much land that he spent his time administering it effectively. The Royal Road was constructed under Darius, and inns placed every horse-day of travel on the road. It took 2 weeks to get from Sardis, Lyida, on the extreme northwest frontier all the way to Susa, the capital in modern Iran. Darius did, however, attack Greece at Marathon when Athens helped the Greek city of Miletus revolt against the empire.


XERXES (400s B.C.)

Well, this is how he is in the movies anyway.





The amazing Royal Road, built by Darius connecting the Persian Empire




The Palace of Darius at Susa, capital of the Persian Empire




The city that lays on the site of ancient Susa today, in Iran




The rock tomb of Emperor Darius in Persia (Iran) next to

the Rock of Behistun- how we learned to read Cuneiform writing



 Later Persian Leaders

DARIUS III (300s B.C.)

The last Persian Emperor of the Achmenaid Dynasty, Darius III met an innoble end when he fled twice from the battlefield against Alexander and the Greeks. His own men did him in out of embarrassment, and the Persian Empire was rendered defunct.


SHAPUR I (200s)

Alexander came and went 500 years earlier, and in the in-between time, Persia was part of the Hellenistic Selecucid Dynasty run by Greeks, before arising again as the Parthian Empire. Now Rome would be its main enemy. Shapur I scored the greatest victory against the Romans when he captured Emperor Valens and stuffed him, taxodermy style, and put him up in Persepolis.


MANI (200s)

A religious reformer, Mani tried to reconcile Christian influences from the west with Buddhist influences from the east, and all that with Zoroastrian influences in the area of Persia between the two. It didn't work out.








Commercial Kingdom: Phoenicia

 Economic strength over political power?


Tyre specifically, as he and his Phoenicians were a city-state people. Descended from Canaanites, he had Ball and Astarte to worship. He allied with David and Solomon, but was neutral when Israel fought the Philistines. He sold Solomon the ceder trees used in construction of the Temple.


King of Phoenicia





Symbols of phoenicia- the purple flower that gave the ancient world this color- and made

phoenicia a maritme trading power on the Mediterranean Sea, and a boat at night




The top trading city of the ancient world, Tyre, Phoenicia

From here colonists would establish mighty Carthage




The second city of Phoenicia, Sidon, as it was 150 years ago




People without a Kingdom: The Canaanites


This is Baal- many Canaanites worshiped idols of Baal and Astarte for many centuries before

the arrival of the Israelites. These kinds of cults were common; some involved human sacrifice

The Canaanites are southern cousins of the Phoenicians, the earliest Palestinians




Rich King(dom): Kingdom of Lydia

CROESUS (6th century BC)

Croesus exemplified wealth. His European Lydian Kingdom amassed in tribute from the Ionian Greeks. Biting off more than he could chew, he allied with some Greek cities against Persia, and fought them in Anatolia. He was captured one winter, and met demise. But it was his financial reforms that immortalized him: he instituted the use of currency to make transactions: money and coins. Think of Croeus next time you buy something with money.






On the Edge of Civilization: Kingdom of Arabia-Felix


From the land of Arabia-Felix, she came to Israel to seek out the wisdom of Solomon (I Kings 10:1). The Ethiopian Christians today trace their lineage from her. (WM)


Queen of Sheba





Sheba, who visited Solomon's court in Jerusalem, came from Arabia-Felix,

today's Yemen. Here is distinctive architecture there today




Cultural Kingdom: Israel 

Culture strength over political power?


Of semi-legendary and humble origin, "Abraham went forth from Ur of the Caldees (in Mesopotamia) into the Land of Canaan". Upon arrival, by way of a special covenant, God 'gave to him all the land from the Jordan River to the sea,' later to become Israel. Abraham is the patriarch of the ancient Hebrews, whose monotheism was the seed for today's Jewish and Christian faith in the one and only God. His son Ishmael, by his maidservant Hagar, was sent into the wilderness and is revered by Muslims as the ancestor of the Arab peoples.


Patriarch of the Hebrews


Son of Abraham by Sarah and Hebrew patriarch, Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old, and Sarah was not very far behind. His very birth was a gift. His famous role in Genesis was that of sacraficial lamb: he is to be a sacrafice to God given by his father: the killing of his only son. On the intercession of God, in the final moments, Isaac is spared, and Abraham's loyalty and faith in God is affirmed. Isaac lived to be over a hundred as well. He married Rebecca, who bore two sons.


Hebrew Patriarch


Son of Isaac. His twin brother Esau and he were both taught the traditions of the fathers, but on the day Abraham died, when they were 15, Esau sold Jacob his birthright (the Abrahamic covenant) as eldest sibling, for a mess of pottage (lentil soup). Later when their father (now blind) died, Jacob disguised himeself as Esau and received his paternal blessing as well. He fled, and had a vision of 'Jacob's Ladder,' a stairway to heaven with angels descending and ascending. One night, he wrestled with an unknown stranger, who was later revealed as the angel of the Lord. God changed Jacob's name to Israel, 'he who is strong against God,' as God was proud of his son. Israel had twelve sons, 'the Children of Israel,' each of whom would become fathers of the 12 historic Hebrew tribes.


Hebrew Patriarch


Joseph had many brothers, and his brothers, jealous of his many-colored coat (among other things), sold him into slavery in Egypt land. This was during the Hyksos period following the collapse of the Middle Kingdom, and the pharaoh became enamored with Joseph's ability to interpret dreams.


Hebrew Patriarch



Lawgiver of the Hebrews



Moses' chosen successor, Joshua is mentioned in many books of the Bible, and walked for the 40 years in the wilderness. Before getting to the Promised Land, Moses died, and Joshua brought down the Walls of Jericho and won the conquest of Canaan- probably the greatest win for the Israelites in organized battle.


Israelite Leader



An important Judge of Israel (Judges 13:1), Samson was the famed strongman of the land, and while he tore Philistine temples down, he fell to the wiles of a woman, Delilah. In the end, he went out with a blaze of glory, for when the said no one could, Samson pulled down one last temple, and paid the ultimate price... but took the entire Philistine army with him! (AL)


Israelite Warrior


Saul was the first ruler of the Kingdom of Israel. He was appointed by Samuel to rule the newly united Hebrew kingdoms and to defend them against the growing Philistine threat. Ultimately, he met his end during a Philistine invasion. He was nailed to the wall of Beth-Shan. (BC)


King of Israel



Philistine Warrior



King of Israel



King of Israel


This prophet of the Levant who said "kings should not break laws with impunity, but conform to the same laws as anyone else." Crazy, right? Even Nixon said he was not above the law- that was Elijah talking, not Machiavelli. Elijah's stories are a big part of the Old Testament.


Israelite Prophet


Son of a loved priest, Hilkiah, he was a Biblical prophet who came to the scene at the moment Judah had turned away from God, and he made it his mission to bring them back. Unpopular, Jeremiah prophisized the fall of Jerusalem, which later occurred under the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. He wrote two books of the Bible, and these books reveal the introspective, honest and saddened state that Judah's rejection and subjugation evoked from Jeremiah.


Israelite Prophet



Josiah became king of Israel at approximately 640 B.C. He placed a great deal of importance on the worship of YHWH, God, unlike his predecessors who introduced idolatry. He restored and refurbished the temple, and he put to death all prophets of Baal and other gods. Josiah was killed in 609 B.C. by an Egyptian king named Necho (MD).


Israelite Prophet



Israelite Prophet





The Call of Abraham- leave Mesopotamia and go the land of Canaan

 Moses' revelation on Mt. Sinai, origin of the Ten Commandments




The foot of Mt. Sinai about 1925- a makeshift cross is found reminding us of the importance of this place




The symbols of the 12 Tribes of Israel




The first Temple of Solomon, as it was in the time of its beginning c. 950 BC

 The temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century B.C.




The second Temple of Solomon, rebuilt by King Herod, in Jersusalem-

this second temple was in turn destroyed by the Romans in the 1st century.




The only remnant of the temple is the Western Wall- a place of pilgrimage today




Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as it is now





Tell Beth-Shan in central Israel- where King Saul was

skewered into the wall in the 11th century B.C.











***Sumerian City-State wars***
Sides: Lagash vs. Umma
Time: 2450 BC
Place: Sumeria (Iraq)
Action: A stele shows Lagash infantry advancing into battle and records their victory.
Casualties: unknown
Consequence: Lagash gets the spoils of conflict and winning brings pride to the city's adopted god. There were many such battles between the city-states over a period of hundreds of years. The Standard of Ur shows what these battles were like and how they were celebrated afterwards.

***Conquests of Sargon***

Sides: Akkadians vs. Sumerians
Time: 2300 BC
Place: Mesopotamia (Iraq).
Action: Akkad defeated Ur, Uruk, Elba and more cities in 31 battles using bronze, bows and chariots.
Casualties: unknown
Consequence: Sargon was the first empire builder; by conquering the Sumerian cities, he carved out a small empire in Mesopotamia and the Levant, starting a cycle of the rise and fall of new empires in the Middle East.

***Campaigns of Hammurabi***
Sides: Babylon vs. Akkadians and Sumerians
Time: 1760 BC
Place: Mesopotamia (Iraq)
Action: Hammurabi formed alliances to do battle with non-compliant leaders in other Mesopotamian cities, and possibly by damming up water and releasing it on one city, Larsa, causing a flood. His allies deserted him and he turned on them, defeating all.
Casualties: unknown
Consequence: Victory created the Babylonian Empire, which got a new Code of Hammurabi's laws (based on lex talionis).

***Hyksos Conquest***
Sides: Hyksos vs. Egypt
Time: c. 1750 BC
Place: Egypt
Action: Hyksos raiders with superior chariot technology came across the Sinai desert and defeated the more culturally advanced but less militarily advanced Egyptians.
Casualties: unknown
Consequence: The Middle Kingdom of Egypt was brought to a violent end. Hyksos rule over Egypt began, lasting 150 years, before an Egyptian uprising led by Ahmose cast them off. Ahmose became the first pharaoh of the New Kingdom.

Sides: New Kingdom Egypt vs. Levantines
Time: 1468 BC
Place: Haifa, Israel
Action: Since the Hyksos gave the Egyptians such a rude awakening to the fact that there were other peoples in the world they didn't even know about, New Kingdom Pharaoh Thutmose III decided to expand Egypt into an empire. His forces attacked walled towns in the Levant with chariots, including Megiddo, a heavily defended fortress-town.
Casualties: 83 Levantines killed, 340 captured; Egyptians: unknown
Consequence: Imperial rule by Egypt over the Levant

Sides: New Kingdom Egypt vs. Hittite Empire
Time: 1275 BC
Place: Orontes River, Syria
Action: Largest ancient battle between 20,000 Egyptians with 2,000 chariots and 15,000 Hittites with 3,500 chariots. Pharaoh Ramses II is said to have cut down thousands of Hittites himself, a little propaganda perhaps? Hittite King Muwatalli and Ramses agreed to a truce- the world first peace treaty! (It is in the UN building on the wall today).
Casualties: Unknown
Consequence: Hittites win Levant but are soon destroyed, Egyptians claim they won as well- this is the battle the peace treaty concluding it is in the UN (pictured above)

***Sea Peoples' Raids***
Sides: Sea Peoples vs. Hittites
Time: 1180 BC
Place: Anatolia
Action: Raiders from the Greek islands storm into Anatolia and wipe out the Hittite Empire by surprise.
Casualties: unknown, but the Hittites probably merged with the invaders to form the Biblical Philistines (ala Goliath of David and Goliath!)
Consequence: Hittites disappear from history.

Sides: Sea Peoples vs. Egyptians
Time: 1176 BC
Place: Nile River, Egypt
Action: Sea Peoples swarm in by sea and land after defeating Hittites, Ramses III assembled a fleet, and this is the first recorded sea battle in history. Problem: Egypt's boats were made for the river, not the Mediterranean, but they lured the Sea Peoples' ships into the river's mouth. Bowmen from shore now shot at them, and the more rowing nature of the Egyptian boats was turned into an advantage, and a victory.
Casualties: unknown
Consequence: Sea Peoples' agree to the Pharaoh's terms- they are resettled in far away Levant and began to be called the Philistines.


Sides: Philistines vs. Israelites under King Saul
Time: 1100 BC
Place: Northern Israel
Action: King Saul used guerrilla warfare tactics on the superior enemy because he knew he would be defeated on an open field where the Philistines could use chariots. In the hills, however, the odds would be even. Philistines attacked, however, and defeated Saul anyway. They hung his body on the walls of Beth-Shan city, as a warning to all.
Casualties: unknown
Consequence: Israelis kept fighting Canaanites and Philistines for control of the Levant

Sides: Assyrians under Shalmaneser III vs. Syrian-Israelite-Arabian alliance
Time: 853 BC
Place: Orantes River, Syria
Action: The mighty Assyrians, using iron and chariots, stormed west to stop 12 renegade provinces like Israel under Ahab and Syria under Hadadezer from rebelling against the empire. They did battle until the renegade leaders agreed to remain in the empire in exchange for keeping their thrones.
Casualties: Assyrians: unknown, Alliance: 14,000
Consequence: Assyria remained in control of Mesopotamia and the Levant

Sides: Assyrians vs. Israelites
Time: 701 BC
Place: Tell Lakhish, Southern Israel
Action: Assryian king Sennacherib moved to punish Israelites for revolting against the empire. He beckoned the Jews to surrender the city and come out but they did not, and a siege began. Bowmen covered wallbreakers who started hacking at the city walls. Later they used a siege engine with battering rams below, covered with wet leather to prevent the Israeli flaming arrows from lighting the wood on fire. They broke in. Slaughter began and no mercy was shown. Sennacherib said, "I captured 46 towns using ramps to bring up battering rams, by infantry attacks, mines, breaches and siege engines." (I Kings, 18). They deported or killed every defender.
Casualties: c. 500 Jews
Consequence: After all these walled downs were captured, Judea fell under the control of Assyria.

Sides: Assyria vs. Elam
Time: 693 BC
Place: Central Mesopotamia
Action: King Sennacherib invaded Elam and sacked its cities and towns. But Elam got a coalition of Babylonians together and fought back. The deciding battle took place on the riverfront, but, "The [Assyrian] king cut the throats of the Elamites like sheep, filling the plain with the corpses of their warriors."
Casualties: unknown
Consequence: Assyria's hold on the empire remained firm.

Sides: Babylonian-Mede Coalition vs. Assyria
Time: 612 BC
Place: Assyria (northern Iraq)
Action: Fed up with harsh rule, Babylonian king Nablopolassar formulated a coalition and began plundering cities up and down the Euphrates river. The usually ruthless Assyrians did... nothing. There was revolt in the air, and the coalition advanced north towards the capital. They were defeated at Ashur, ancestral city of the Assyrians on the way, and took refuge in Tikrit (later Saddam Hussein's hometown). Then a fresh army of Medes came from the east and joined them; they laid siege to the capital, Nineveh, for three months. The Assyrian king died, the city fell and was obliterated.
Casualties: unknown.
Consequence: The Assyrian Empire came to an end, and Babylonian ascendency began.

Sides: Egypt vs. Israel
Time: 606 BC
Place: Northern Israel
Action: Pharaoh Necho II, famous for hiring Phoenician sailors to chart the coast of Africa, moved an army across the region to help the remnants of the Assyrians defeat the coalition that ended them, because Egypt was a bitter enemy of Babylon. The Israelites under Josiah sided with the Babylonians and ran guerrilla tactic on the Egyptians as they moved through. The Pharaoh offered peace but Josiah rejected it, and at Megiddo, Egyptian chariots vanquished the Israelites and Josiah was killed.
Casualties: unknown
Consequences: Ironically, the Israelites delayed the Egyptians from helping the Assyrians and that aided in accomplishing their ultimate defeat.

Sides: Babylonians vs. Israelites
Time:586 BC
Place: Central Israel
Action: Between Egypt and Babylon lies Israel. The Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, went to war over the region. The Israelites under Zedekiah sided with the Egyptians, whom they fought 20 years earlier, turning on the new rulers of the Middle East. A Babylonian army laid siege to Jerusalem, Israel's most important city, for months, until "there was no bread for the people of the land." The Jews escaped the city and were cut down, Zedekiah's sons were butchered in front of him.
Casualties: unknown
Consequence: After the battle, Jerusalem was burned, the Babylonians destroyed the Temple of Solomon, and the Jewish people were carried away to Babylon, where they lived for 50 years until being freed by the Persians. (Much of the Old Testament of the Bible was written during these 50 years).

Sides: Persians vs. Lydians
Time: 546 BC
Place: Western Anatolia (Turkey)
Action: Under Cyrus, the Persians began their rise to world power. They put together a growing empire that began east of Babylon and then encircled it to the north, the land of the Medes, who joined the alliance. They moved further west now, into former Hittite lands, where the Lydians lived, followed by the Ionian Greeks on the far western coast. The Persians developed the 10,000 Immortals fighting unit, which made up part of the invasion of 50,000 heading to the Lydian capital, Sardis. But  Lydian king Croesus (who was reputedly very rich) fielded a grand defense force featuring Spartan commandos. Now Cyrus' genius came into play. He lined up his archers behind the camels, and the Lydian horses didn't like the smell of the camels, which threw their cavalry charge into chaos. They wrapped around the Persians, who then fought out from every direction and took the city.
Casualties: unknown
Consequence: Croesus was left in charge provided he remained loyal to Cyrus. Lydia became part of the Persian Empire.

Sides: Persians vs. Babylonians
Time: 539 BC
Place: Central Mesopotamia (Iraq)
Action: Cyrus the Great of Persia is one of the greatest conquerors in history. After taking the Kingdoms of Media and Lydia, it was time to challenge the weakened and decadent Babylonians for rule over the region. One Babylonian city resisted and everyone was massacred. General Gobryas met the Babylonian emperor and secured his surrender following scattered fighting. Cyrus marched into Babylon a hero, and he liberated the Jewish people, who went back to Israel to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. It is said the Prophet Isaiah foretold of this happening [in Isiah 44 and 45].
Casualties: unknown
Consequence: The Babylonian Empire was over, and the Persians ruled the Middle East from Lydia to India, including Egypt and northern Arabia. The only people they did not rule, were the Greeks. Cyrus' successors, Darius and especially Xerxes, would find that unacceptable.





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