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BABYLON


179


BABYLONIA


In the Middle Ages the bones of Babylas were carried to Cremona. The Latin Church keeps his feast on 24 January, the Greek Church on 4 September.

EusEBius, Hist, eccl., VI, xxix and xxxix; Sozomencs, Hist, eccl,, V, xviii, xxix; Theodoretus, Hist, eccl.. Ill, xix; RuFlNUS, Hist, eccl., I. xxxv-xxxvi; S. Joannes Chrysosto- MUS, Sermo de S. Babyla in, P. 6., IV, col. 527-534; Id., Liber in S. Babylon contra Gentiles, Ibid., col. .533-372; Acta SS., January, II, 569 sqq.; Analecta Bollandiana C18S4), III, 140-141; XIX (1900), .5-8; Tillemont, Memoires pour serrir n Vhist. eccUs., III. 400 sqq., 967 sqq.; Harnack. Gcsch. der alichr. Lileratur (Leipzig, 1897), II; Die Chronologte, I, 214 sqq.; All.\rd, Hist, des persecutions, 2d ed., II, 238 sqq., 450.

J. P. IviRSCH.

Babylon, the curial title of a Latin archbishopric, also of a Chaldean patriarchate and of a Syrian archbishopric. See B.\gd.\d.

Babylonia. — In treating of the history, character, and influence of tliis ancient empire, it is difficult not to speak at the same time of its sister, or rather daughter, country, AssjTia. This northern neigh- bour and colony of Babylon remained to the last of the same race and language and of almost the same religion and civilization as that of the country from which it emigrated. The political fortunes of both countries for more than a thousand years were closely interwoven with one another; in fact, for many cen- turies they formed one political unit. The reader is therefore referred to the article Assyria for the sources of AssjTO-Babylonian history; for the story of ex- ploration, language, and ^\Titing; tor its value in Old Testament exegesis, and for much of Babylonian his- tory during the period of Assyrian supremacy.

Geography. — The country lies diagonally from north-west to south-east, between .30 and 33 N. lat. and 44 and 48 E. long., or from the present city of Bagdad to the Persian Gulf, from the slopes of Khuzistan on the east to the Arabian Desert on the west, and is substantially contained between the Rivers Euphrates and Tigris, though to the west a narrow strip of cultivation on the right bank of the Euphrates must be added. Its total length is some 300 miles, its greatest ^^^dth about 125 miles; about 23,000 square miles in all, or the size of Holland and Belgium together. Like those two countries, its soil is largely formed by the alluvial deposits of two great rivers. A most remarkable feature of Babylonian geography is that the land to the south encroaches on the sea and that the Persian Gulf recedes at present at the rate of a mile in seventy years, while in the past, though still in historic times, it receded as much as a mile in thirty years. In the early period of Babylonian history the gulf must have extended some hundred and twenty miles further inland. Ac- cording to historical records both the towns Ur and Eridu were once close to the gulf, from which they are now about a lumdred miles distant; and from the reports of Sennacherib's campaign against Bit Yakin we gather that as late as 695 B. c, the four rivers Kerkha, Karun, Euphrates, and Tigris entered the gulf by separate mouths, which proves that the sea even then extended a considerable distance north of where the Euphrates and Tigris now join to form the Shat-el-arab. Geological observations show that a secondary formation of limestone abruptly begins at a line drawn from Hit on the Euphrates to Sa- marra on the Tigris, i. e. some four hundred miles from their present mouth; this must once have formed the coast line, and all the country' south was only gradually gained from the sea by river deposit. In now far man was witness of this gradual formation of the Babylonian soil we cannot determine at pres- ent; as far south as Larsa and Lagash man had built cities 4,000 years before Christ. It has been sug- gested that the story of the Flood may be connected with man's recollection of the waters extending far nortli i)f Babylon, or of some great natural event re- lating to the formation of the soil; but with our pres-


ent imperfect knowledge it can only be the merest suggestion. It may, however, well be observed that the astounding system of canals which existed in an- cient Babylonia even from the remotest historical times, though largely due to man's careful industry and patient toil, was not entirely the work of the spade, but of na- ture once lead- ing the waters of Euphrates and Tigris in a hun- dred rivulets to the sea, forming a delta like that of the Nile.

The fertility of this rich alluvial plain was in an- cient times pro- verbial ; it pro- duced a wealth of wheat, barley, sesame, dates, and other fruits and cereals. The cornfields of Babylonia were mostly in the south, where Larsa, Lagash, Erech, and Cal- neh were the centres of an opulent agricul- tural population. The palm tree was cultivated with assiduous care and, besides fur- nishing all sorts of food and beverage, was used for a thousand domestic needs. Birds and water- fowls, herds and flocks, and rivers teeming with fish .supplied the inhabitants with a rural plenty which surprises the modern reader of the cadastral surveys and tithe-accounts of the ancient temples. The coimtry is completely destitute of mineral wealth, and possesses no stone or metal, although stone was already being imported from the Lebanon and the Ammanus as early as 3000 B. c; and much earlier, about 4500 b. c, I'r-Nina King of Shirpurla sent to Magan, i. e. the Sinaitic Peninsula, for hard stone and hard wood; while the copper mines of Sinai were prob- ably being worked by Babylonians shortly after 3750,. when Snefru, first king of the Fourth Egyptian dy- nasty, drove them away. It is remarkable that Baby- lonia possesses no bronze period, but passed from, copper to iron; though in later ages it learnt the use of bronze from Assyria.

The towns of ancient Babylonia were the following: southernmost, (1) Eridu, Semitic corruption of the old name of Eri-dugga, "good city", at present the mounds of Abu-Sharain; and (2) Ur, Abraham's birthplace, about twenty-five miles north-cast of Eridu, at present Mughair. Both of these to-v\ns lay west of the Euphrates. East of the Euphrates, the southernmost town was (3) Larsa, the Biblical Ella.sar (Gen., xiv; in Vulg. and D. V. unfortunately rendered Pontus), at present Senkere; (4) Erech, the Biblical Arach (Gen., x, 10), fifteen miles north- west of Larsa, is at present Warka; and eight miles north-east from the modern Shatra was (5) Shirpurla otherwise Lagash, now Tello. Shirpurla was one of Babylon's most ancient cities, though not mentioned in the Bible; probably "Raventown" (shirpur-raven), from the sacred emblem of its goddess and sanctuarj', Nin-Girsu, or Nin-Sungir, which for a score of cen- turies was an important political centre, and prob-