Babylon was situated on the left bank of the Euphrates river in ancient Akkadian land (middle Mesopotamia). The first note about it came from the period of the 3rd dynasty of Ur (about 2,100 – 2,000 BC). The city was called Ka-dingir-ra in Sumerian and Báb-ilí in Akkadian language (both names mean "God's gate").
Sumuabum, a commander of one Amorite tribe, settled there in 1,894 BC. Semitic tribes began to attack lower Mesopotamia since the decline of Ur. They used fragmentation of the land and built their own kingdom, but most of them existed for a very short time. Sumuabum founded a dynasty, which ruled 300 years. His tribe assimilated very quickly into the city, took over the inhabitants' settled way of life, cults and language as well. Babylon happened to be the crossroad for caravans, which provided business among India and Mediterranean harbours.
Hammurabi came to the throne in 1,792 BC. He was the sixth king of Babylonia and he inherited only small territory after his father – the former Akkadian land. Thanks to his skills and military abilities Hammurabi gradually conquered cities Larsa (1,763 BC), Mari (1,759 BC), Assur (1,757 BC) and Eshnunna (1,756 BC). So Babylon became a capital of an empire, which involved the whole lower Mesopotamia and a part of upper Mesopotamia.
The Code of Hammurabi
The reign of Hammurabi was based on a strong personality of the ruler and state administration, which gradually suppressed the authority of local rulers. Hammurabi's name is associated with the eldest Code of law in the world. It was inscribed with Cuneiform script into diorite stele in Akkadian language. The stele is rounded at the top and is 2.5m high. There is a relief of Hammurabi and sun god Utu above the text, which should be inspiration for the ruler to create the code. The code includes private and public law and the rule "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" occures there.
But Hammurabi's work didn't outlive its author. His son Samsu-iluna (1,749 – 1,712 BC) lost Sumer, also Assyria became independent and on the top of that he had to face foreign conquerors – especially the Kassites. But there is not much information about their origin. The Hittite king Mursili I conquered Babylon in 1,595 BC, so the domination of Amorite dynasty was finished.
Nebuchadnezzar II. - last moments of fame
Babylon had its last moment of fame under Nebuchadnezzar II. rule (605 – 562 BC), who ran a politics of conquest and his aim was to force Egypt out of Palestina and Syria. He broke into Judah several times, seized Jerusalem and dragged local people off. But Nebuchadnezzar II had only weak successors and the empire declined gradually after his death, till Persian Cyrus conquered Babylon without fighting.
Babylonia was only a run-down province of Persia in half of the 4th century BC. When Alexander the Great defeated the Persians and came into the city in 331 BC, he was welcomed as a liberator. Alexander the Great died there on June 13th, 323 BC.