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Babylonian Art
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Babylon is on the riverbanks of the Euphrates River in Iraq, about 50 miles south of the capital city of Baghdad. There were two important periods of time Babylonian art flourished: between the nineteenth and sixteenth centuries, B.C. and from about 635 to 539 B.C. Babylon's most famous ruler was Hammurabi, who reigned between during the years 1792 and 1750 B.C. Hammurabi was most famous for his code of law. He engraved the code on two sides of black basalt in cuneiform (the language of the day).

Archaeologists found the tablets in Susa; they are now in Paris at the Louvre. The ruins of the city Mari yielded excellent examples of Babylonian art. Within the palace there were statues of the governor, goddesses and wall-paintings. Influenced by the Sumerians, the art in Babylon underwent a change and became softer.

The name of the first period of Babylonian art is Neo-Sumerian.The most famous ruler of this period was Nebuchadnezzar II. It was during his reign that Babylon again showed greatness. There were many buildings built throughout Mesopotamia during this period: fortresses, temples, palaces and the famous hanging gardens. The most famous building was the ziggurat of Etemenankni (that means House of the foundation of heaven and earth) that was seven stories high. This building is most likely the Tower of Babel referred to in the Bible's book of Genesis. Unfortunately, excavations did not yield the large amount of art expected in this royal city, probably because of wars and looting.

The only thing remaining that gives art historians an idea of the art of Babylon is the decoration on the Istar Gate and the decoration in one hall of the royal palace. Animals and flowers, painted in yellow and rose with a blue ground, show the creativity of the Babylonian artists.

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