Saturday, November 14, 2009

Babylonia Meet & Greet

Map of ancient Babylonian area

Nestled between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the Fertile Crescent laid an ancient civilization: Babylonia. Babylonian was an area of land home to many cities, the most important being Babylon. Babylon grew up along the rivers because water was vital to provide the means to farm and sustain life. The Babylonians created the irrigation system to water their crops. Babylon was created about 4000 years ago. Even though Babylon existed so long ago, life was very exciting!

A Day in the Life of a Babylonian...

Babylonians were short and stocky. They called themselves "the dark-haired people" because of their dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin. Their eyes may have slanted downwards, and they had thin lips and noses. Babylonians wore wool clothing, like tunics, made from sheep. Women wore their hair at shoulder length.

Babylonian men dressed in tunics

Everyone was expected to work for the good of the city. Babylonians did not use money, but paid for things using food, jewelry, and wool. In return for their work, the government made sure that everyone had food, shelter, and clothing.

The city of Babylon: showing the ziggurat and family homes

Parents arranged marriages for their children, and sometimes the couples did not meet until their wedding day! Women were expected to stay home and look after the home and the children. Men worked outside the home. Children spent their time working in field areas. There were schools in Babylon, but only boys could attend them, and only if their parents were wealthy. Most Babylonians lived in a one-bedroom home with a kitchen and bathrooms. Babylonians ate two meals a day: one in the morning and one in the early evening. Their diet consisted mainly of: bread, cheese, vegetables, oil, and porridge.

Culture Craze

Cuneiform was the written language of the Babylonians. Cuneiform was a set of symbols that represented words rather than letters, like we have in our present day alphabet. They wrote on tablets made of clay, using a wedge shaped instrument. People who could write had power in this ancient civilization and were able to become priests, scribes, and tradespeople. Cuneiform was very complicated and took years to learn.

A clay tablet with cuneiform writing on it

The Babylonians believed in many gods and goddesses. They had many religious festivals, some were tied into their farming year so Babylonians could ask for good crops. Each city in Babylonia had a ziggurat that was used as a temple. The ziggurat had to be the biggest and best tower in the city.

Babylonian ziggurats were a place of worship

Babylon was a beautiful city. One of the main features of Babylon was its "Hanging Gardens". Originally, when the Queen was missing the mountains from her hometown, the King ordered for a great construction to be built. On the different levels of the ziggurat, were many types of plants to create the illusion of a mountain. The Hanging Gardens were magnificent and to this day they are one of the seven wonders of the ancient world!

The Hanging Gardens of Babylonia on a ziggurat


Extras for students: Cool Books
Teacher Extras:
Babylon Lesson Plan

Mellersh, H.E.L. (1964). Sumer and Babylon. Canada: Burns & MacEachern.

Morrison, I. (2004). People of the past. Don Mills, Ontario: Pearson Education Canada.

Moss, C. (1988). Science in ancient Mesopotamia. United States of America: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data.

Shutter, J. (2006). Mesopotamia. Chicago, Illinois: Heinemann Library.

City of Babylon
Hanging Gardens
Babylonian People
Cuneiform Tablet

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