Geography of Babylonia and Assyria

The Geography of Babylonia, like its ethnology and history, enclosed between the two great rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, forms but one country. The writers of antiquity clearly recognized this fact, speaking of the whole under the general name of Assyria, though Babylonia, as will be seen, would have been a more accurate designation.

It naturally falls into two divisions, the northern being more or less mountainous, while the southern is flat and marshy; the near approach of the two rivers to one another, at a spot where the undulating plateau of the north sinks suddenly into the Babylonian alluvium, tends to separate them still more completely.

In the earliest recorded times, the northern portion was included in Mesopotamia; it was marked off as Assyria after the rise of the Assyrian monarchy. Apart from Assur, the original capital, the chief cities of the country, Nineveh, Calah and Arbela, were all on the east bank of the Tigris. The reason was its abundant supply of water, whereas the great Mesopotamian plain on the western side had to depend on streams flowing into the Euphrates.

This vast flat, the modern El-Jezireh, is about 250 miles in length, interrupted only by a single limestone range rising abruptly out of the plain, and branching off from the Zagros mountains under the names of Sarazur, Hainrin and Sinjar. The numerous remains of old habitations show how thickly this level tract must once have been peopled, though now mostly a wilderness. North of the plateau rises a well-watered and undulating belt of country, into which run low ranges of limestone hills, sometimes arid, sometimes covered with dwarf oak, and often shutting in, between their northern and northeastern flank and the main mountain line from which they detach themselves, rich plains and fertile valleys. Behind them tower the massive ridges of the Euphrates and Zagros ranges, where the Tigris and Euphrates take their rise, and which cut off Assyria from Armenia and Kurdistan. The name Assyria itself was derived from that of the city of Assur or Asur, now Qal'at Sherqat (Kaleh Shergat), on the right bank of the Tigris, midway between the Greater and the Lesser Zab. It remained the capital long after the Assyrians had become the dominant power in western Asia, but was finally supplanted by Calah (Nimrud), Nineveh (Nebi Vunus and Kuyunjik), and Dur-Sargina (Khorsabad), some 60 miles farther north.

In contrast with the arid plateau of Mesopotamia stretched the rich alluvial plain of Chaldaea, formed by the deposits of the two great rivers that encircled it. The soil was extremely fertile, and teemed with an industrious population. Eastward rose the mountains of Elam, southward were the sea-marshes and the Kaldy or Chaldaeans and other Aramaic tribes, while on the west the civilization of Babylonia encroached beyond the banks of the Euphrates, upon the territory of the Semitic nomads (or Suti). Here stood Ur (Mugheir, more correctly Muqayyar) the earliest capital of the country; and Babylon, with its suburb, Borsippa (Birs Nimrud), as well as the two Sipparas (the Sepharvaim of Scripture, now Abu Habba), occupied both the Arabian and Chaldaean sides of the river. The Arakhtu, or "river of Babylon," flowed past the southern side of the city, and to the southwest of it on the Arabian bank lay the great inland freshwater sea of Najaf, surrounded by red sandstone cliffs of considerable height, 40 miles in length and 35 in breadth in the widest part. Above and below this sea, from Borsippa to Kufa, extend the famous Chaldaean marshes, where Alexander the Great was nearly lost (Arrian, Eup. Al. vii. 22; Strabo xvi. I, § 12); but these depend upon the state of the Hindiya canal, disappearing altogether when it is closed.

Eastward of the Euphrates and southward of Sippara, Kutha and Babylon were Kish (Ultaimir, 9 miles E. of Hillah), Nippur (Niffer)-where stood the great sanctuary of El-lu, the older Bel-Uruk or Erech (Warka) and Larsa (Senkera) with its temple of the sun-god, while eastward of the Shatt el-Hai, probably the ancient channel of the Tigris, was Lagash (Tello), which played an important part in early Babylonian history.

The primitive seaport of the country, Eridu, the seat of the worship of Ea the culture-god, was a little south of Ur (at Abu Shahrain or Nowäwis on the west side of the Euphrates). It is now about 130 miles from the sea; as about 46 inches of land have been formed by the silting up of the shore since the foundation of Spasinus Charax (Mu/-zamrah) in the time of Alexander the Great, or some 115 feet a year, the city would have existed perhaps 6000 years ago. The marshes in the south, like the adjoining desert, were frequented by Aramaic tribes; of these, the most famous were the Kaldä or Chaldaeans who under Merodach-baladan made themselves masters of Babylon and gave their name in later days to the whole population of the country. The combined stream of the Euphrates and Tigris as it flowed through the marshes was known to the Babylonians as the ndr marrati, "the salt river" (cp. Jeremiah 1:21), a name originally applied to the Persian Gulf.

The alluvial plain of Babylonia was called Edin, though the name was properly restricted to "the plain" on the western bank of the river where the Bedouins pastured the flocks of their Babylonian masters. This "bank" or kisad, together with the corresponding western bank of the Tigris (according to Fritz Hommel the modern Shatt el-Uai), gave its name to the land of Chesed, whence the Kasdim/Kasdin of the Old Testament. In the early inscriptions of Lagash, the whole district is known as Gu-Edinna, the Sumerian equivalent of the Semitic Kisad Edini. The coastland was similarly known as Gu-gbba (Semitic Kisad tamtim), the "bank of the sea."

A more comprehensive name of southern Mesopotamia was Kengi, "the land," or Kengi Sumer, "the land of Sumer". Sumer has been supposed to be the original of the Biblical Shinar and the Sankhar of the Amarna letters. Opposed to Kengi and Sumer were Urra (Un) and Akkad or northern Babylonia. The original meaning of Urra was perhaps "clayey soil," but it came to signify "the upper country" or "highlands," kengi being "the lowlands." In Semitic times, Urra was pronounced Un and confounded with uru, "city" as a geographical term, however, it was replaced by Akkadu (Akkad), the Semitic form of Agade - written Akkattim in the Elamite inscriptions - the name of the elder Sargon's capital, which must have stood close to Sippara, if indeed it was not a quarter of Sippara itself. The rise of Sargon's empire was the probable cause of this extension of the name of Akkad; henceforward in the imperial title, "Sumer and Akkad" denoted the whole of Babylonia. After the Kassite conquest of the country, northern Babylonia came to be known as Kar-Duniyash, "the wall of the god Duniyask," from a line of forts similar to that built by Nebuchadrezzar between Sippara and Opis, to defend his kingdom from attacks from the north. As this last was "the Wall of Semiramis" mentioned by Strabo (xi. 14. 8), Kar-Duniyash may have represented the Median Wall of Xenophon (Anab. ii. 4. 12), traces of which were found by F.R. Chesney extending from Fallujah to Jibbar.

The country was thickly studded with towns, the sites of which are still represented by mounds, though the identification of most of them is still doubtful. The latest to be identified are Bismya, between Nippur and Erech, which recent American excavations have proved to be the site of Udab (also called Adab and Usab) and the neighbouring Fara, the site of the ancient Kisurra.

The dense population arose from the elaborate irrigation of the Babylonian plain, which had originally reclaimed it from a pestiferous and uninhabitable swamp, and had made it the most fertile country in the world. The science of irrigation and engineering seems to have been first developed in Babylonia, which was covered by a network of canals, all skilfully planned and regulated. The three chief of them carried off the waters of the Euphrates to the Tigris above Babylon: the Zabzallat canal (or Nahr Sarsar) running from Faluja to Ctesiphon, the Kutha canal from Sippara to Madam, passing Tell Ibrahim or Kuth'a on the way, and the King's canal or Ar-Malcha between the other two. This last, which perhaps owed its name to Hammurabi, was conducted from the Euphrates towards Upi or Opis, which has been shown by H. Winckler (Altorientalische Forschungen, ii. pp. 509 seq.) to have been close to Seleucia on the western side of the Tigris. The Pallacopas, called Pallukkatu in the Neo-Babylonian texts, started from Pallukkatu or Falluja, and running parallel to the western bank of the Euphrates as far as Iddaratu or Teredon, (?) watered an immense tract of land and supplied a large lake near Borsippa. B. Meissner may be right in identifying it with "the Canal of the Sun-god" of the early texts.

Thanks to this system of irrigation, the cultivation of the soil was highly advanced in Babylonia. According to Herodotus (1.193), wheat commonly returned two hundred-fold to the sower, and occasionally three hundred-fold. Pliny the Elder (H. N. xviii. 11) states that it was cut twice, and afterwards was good keep for sheep, and Berossus remarked that wheat, sesame, barley, ochrys, palms, apples and many kinds of shelled fruit grew wild, as wheat still does in the neighbourhood of Anah. A Persian poem celebrated the 360 uses of the palm (Strabo xvi. I. 14), and Ammianus Marcellinus (xxiv. 3) says that from the point reached by Julian's army to the shores of the Persian Gulf was one continuous forest of verdure.

See also: Babylonia and Assyria

This article was originally based on content from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. Update as needed.
Ethnology (from the Greek ethnos, meaning "people") is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyses the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the racial or national divisions of humanity.
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History is the study of the past, focused on human activity and leading up to the present day.[1] More precisely, history is the continuous, systematic narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race [1]
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Origin Eastern Turkey
Mouth Shatt al-Arab
Basin countries Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran
Length 1.900 km (1.180 mi)

The Tigris is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, along with the Euphrates, which flows from
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Origin Eastern Turkey
Mouth Shatt al Arab
Basin countries Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran
Length 2,800 km
Source elevation 4,500 m

Avg.
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Ancient Mesopotamia

Euphrates Tigris
Cities / Empires
Sumer: Uruk ' Ur ' Eridu
Kish ' Lagash ' Nippur
Akkadian Empire: Akkad
Babylon ' Isin ' Susa
Assyria: Assur Nineveh
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Ancient Mesopotamia

Euphrates Tigris
Cities / Empires
Sumer: Uruk ' Ur ' Eridu
Kish ' Lagash ' Nippur
Akkadian Empire: Akkad
Babylon ' Isin ' Susa
Assyria: Assur Nineveh
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Mesopotamia was a cradle of civilization geographically located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq. Sumer in southern Mesopotamia is commonly regarded as the world's earliest civilization.
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State Party  Iraq
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv
Reference 1130
Region Arab States

Inscription History
Inscription 2003  (27th Session)

Endangered 2003-
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Ancient Mesopotamia

Euphrates Tigris
Cities / Empires
Sumer: Uruk ' Ur ' Eridu
Kish ' Lagash ' Nippur
Akkadian Empire: Akkad
Babylon ' Isin ' Susa
Assyria: Assur Nineveh
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Ancient Mesopotamia

Euphrates Tigris
Cities / Empires
Sumer: Uruk ' Ur ' Eridu
Kish ' Lagash ' Nippur
Akkadian Empire: Akkad
Babylon ' Isin ' Susa
Assyria: Assur Nineveh
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Arbela may refer to:
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  • The ancient name of the city of Arbil in northern Iraq
  • The "Battle of Arbela" is called by modern historians the Battle of Gaugamela

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The Zagros Mountains (Kurdish: زنجیره‌ چیاکانی زاگروس, Persian:
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Sinjar (Kurdish: Şingar[1]) is the name of a region and a town in northwestern Iraq's Ninawa Governorate near the Syrian border. Its population at the time of the 2006 census was 39,875[2].
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Motto
Մեկ Ազգ, Մեկ Մշակույթ   (Armenian)
"

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Kurdistan (Kurdish: Kurdistan/كوردستان, literally meaning "the land of Kurds";[3]) is the name of a geographic and cultural region in the Middle East, inhabited predominantly by the Kurds.
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Ashur or Assur or Asur may refer to:
  • Assur city, the first capital of Assyria
  • Ashur, the main god of Assyrian mythology (later identified with Anshar)
  • Ashur, grandson of Noah in Genesis
  • Ashur a common given name among Assyrian people

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Zab (Turkish: Zap suyu, Kurdish: Zê, Persian: زاب; Zâb, Syriac: ܙܒܐ; Zawa) is the name given to two separate rivers that flow through Iran, Iraq and Turkey to become the two principal tributaries of the Tigris.
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Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent. It covers 8.6% of the Earth's total surface area (or 29.4% of its land area) and, with almost 4 billion people, it contains more than 60% of the world's current human population.
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Ancient Mesopotamia

Euphrates Tigris
Cities / Empires
Sumer: Uruk ' Ur ' Eridu
Kish ' Lagash ' Nippur
Akkadian Empire: Akkad
Babylon ' Isin ' Susa
Assyria: Assur Nineveh
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Ancient Mesopotamia

Euphrates Tigris
Cities / Empires
Sumer: Uruk ' Ur ' Eridu
Kish ' Lagash ' Nippur
Akkadian Empire: Akkad
Babylon ' Isin ' Susa
Assyria: Assur Nineveh
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Ancient Mesopotamia

Euphrates Tigris
Cities / Empires
Sumer: Uruk ' Ur ' Eridu
Kish ' Lagash ' Nippur
Akkadian Empire: Akkad
Babylon ' Isin ' Susa
Assyria: Assur Nineveh
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BCE Zayandeh River Civilization Sialk civilization 7500–1000 Jiroft civilization (Aratta) Proto-Elamite civilization Bactria-Margiana Complex Elamite dynasties 2800–550 Kingdom of Mannai Median Empire 728–550 Achaemenid Empire Seleucid Empire Greco-Bactrian
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Aramaic}}} 
Writing system: Aramaic abjad, Syriac abjad, Hebrew abjad, Mandaic alphabet with a handfull of inscriptions found in Demotic[2] and Chinese[3] characters.
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In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic (from the Biblical "Shem", Hebrew: שם, translated as "name", Arabic: ساميّ) was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages.
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Ur, or ur may refer to:
  • Ur, an ancient city in southern Mesopotamia
  • Hayy Ur, a neighborhood of eastern Baghdad, Iraq
  • Úr , a letter of the Ogham alphabet
  • Ur (rune) ᚢ, a letter of the runic alphabets

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Borsippa was an important ancient city of Sumer (Iraq), built on both sides of a lake about 17.7 km (11 miles) southwest of Babylon, on the east bank of the Euphrates. The site of Borsippa is now called Birs Nimrud,
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Sippar (modern Tell Abu Habbah, Sumerian Zimbir "bird city") was an ancient Babylonian city on the east bank of the Euphrates, some 60 km north of Babylon.
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Arabian Peninsula (in Arabic: شبه الجزيرة العربية, or جزيرة العرب) is a peninsula in Southwest Asia at the junction of
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Alexander III, the Great
Basileus of Macedon, Hegemon of the Hellenic League, Shah of Persia, Pharaoh of Egypt

Alexander fighting Persian king Darius III. From Alexander Mosaic, from Pompeii, Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale.
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