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What Was Everyday Life Like in the Ancient City of Babylon?

In history, many civilizations were established that contributed to human civilization. Great and powerful empires left important traces on all humanity in different periods of history. Some civilizations have changed the world with the institutions they have established, some with science, and some with armies that have never been seen before! The most important thing left from some civilizations was the cities they founded thousands of years ago! Because some cities in ancient times had many features that underlined the concept of “civilization”! Babylon, the capital of the Babylonian Empire, was one of the most important cities of ancient times. Babylonian civilization is remembered for the “Laws of Hammurabi”, one of the oldest written laws in history. Of course, these laws were an incredible innovation that had never been seen before! But Babylon was a city with much more than these laws! Here is what you need to know about Babylon, one of the most important cities of the ancient period, and daily life in Babylon…

Babylon had a population of more than 25,000 during the reign of Hammurabi.

Babylon, which was founded thousands of years ago in the south of today’s Baghdad, hosted more than 100,000 people over time. Thus, it became the largest city in Mesopotamia.

In Babylon in the time of Hammurabi, people lived in adobe houses. Most of the houses had no windows. But most of the houses had courtyards inside! However, the family was an extremely important concept in Babylonian society. For this reason, large and crowded families lived in houses close to each other. In addition, due to the strong family structure in Babylonian society, houses in Babylon were almost never sold to someone else, families lived in the same houses and together for generations. Family members who lost their lives were often buried in the courtyards in the middle of the houses.

Babylonian society was patriarchal

But Babylonian women had even more rights than women in the Ancient Greek civilization that would be established hundreds of years later! Women in Babylon were able to represent themselves in courts. They also had the right to own property and bequeath. In addition, women in Babylon had the right to work as civil servants…

Babylonian society did not have a rigid class system

However, society was still divided into various castes. The most privileged community in Babylon, of course, was the king and his family. After them came the clergy. The people in Babylon were generally divided into three classes: free and wealthy people called “Awilum”, free but poor people called “Mushkenum”, and finally slaves called “wardum”. Yes, as in many ancient civilizations, there was slavery in Babylonian society. But slavery in Babylon was temporary. That is, a slave did not, in most cases, remain a slave until the end of his life. Also, many of the slaves in Babylon were Babylonian citizens who owed money to someone else. These slaves were able to regain their freedom when they paid their debts.

Barley and wool were extremely important to the city of Babylon.

Because especially during the Hammurabi period, the wealth of the city was measured by the barley and wool production in the city. Moreover, in the following years, wool production in the city led to the development of weaving and, accordingly, trade.

Most of the farmland in Babylon belonged to the king or certain religious officials. But there were also people who owned their own private farmland. Most of the agricultural work on these lands was carried out by either slaves or wage workers. In addition, some soldiers were given agricultural land in return for their military service. However, these soldiers could not own the land. Instead, part of the harvest was given to these soldiers.

The main agricultural product in Babylon was barley. Because most of the most important consumer goods of Babylonian society were produced from barley. Apart from that, as a result of wool production in Babylon, tens of thousands of sheep lived in the city!

Babylonian society believed in more than one god

Babylon

Some of these gods, for example, “Marduk,” the patron god of Babylon, were in the category of official gods! These official gods also had personal deities that people worshiped in their own homes!

Official gods such as Marduk, Ishtar, and Enlil had separate and rather magnificent temples. However, only religious officials and temple staff could enter these temples! Each of these temples contained detailed statues of the gods. But these statues were not depictions of gods but themselves! Whether in a magnificent temple or in a humble Babylonian home, these statues had to be fed three times a day! Wine and beer were among the favorite drinks of the gods. It was also a common custom to adorn these gods with jewels. On important days, especially the great gods were taken to the streets and circulated by the people in Babylon.

You may be interested in: From An to Enlil: What You Need to Know About the Most Important Sumerian Gods

Most of the Codes of Hammurabi did not go into effect

Babylon

The Code of Hammurabi contained extremely detailed and important legal rules. Many areas, from commercial law to workers’ rights, from adoption to property rights, were regulated by the Code of Hammurabi. However, court records from Babylon show that these rules were not applied very much! Despite this, it can be said that Babylon had a highly developed legal system. The courts in Babylon were ruled by 7 judges. In addition, court decisions were made according to the opinion of the majority. In addition, the courts had the power to conduct an independent investigation for any judicial event in Babylon. Of course, witness statements were among the most important elements of the trials in Babylon. Because the witnesses brought before the court had to swear to the gods. And it was not wise to lie during any lawsuit!

Apart from all this, the legal system in Babylon was famous for its “tit-for-tat”! However, this tit-for-tat system could vary according to the financial situation of the defendants. For example, if people whose financial situation was equal, they were punished with the retaliation system. However, when a rich person committed a crime against a poor person, he was sentenced to a hefty fine instead of tit-for-tat. This was a method used to eradicate class injustice in Babylon.

The Babylonian army had an extremely interesting understanding of warfare.

Babylon

In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the understanding of war in the region at that time was very different from what it is now. For example, if the Babylonian Empire and one of its neighboring states fell into a conflict and there was no other option but war, diplomats would get together and set a place and date for war! The winner of this single battle would be declared the winner! Moreover, it was common practice in the Babylonian army to capture enemy soldiers rather than kill them. Because prisoners of war could be sold for high prices!

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