AFTER NEBUCHADNEZZAR: THE DECLINE OF MESOPOTAMIA

   The Babylonians were quick to claim the inheritance of their oppressors and became in turn an imperial state that exercised control over much of the Near East right to the Mediterranean shores. Nebuchadnezzar made Babylon into the most dazzling city of the world. But the imperialist phase was of short duration, and the Achaemenid rulers claimed sovereignty over an even larger territory, from eastern Iran to Egypt. Since in Babylonia the collective identity was heavily invested in religious symbols (the cults of the great gods of Babylonia), the tradition of urbanism found that dynasties of foreign origin were tolerated as long as their kings conformed to the cultural norms of Babylonian kingship. The country continued to function and prosper under Persian and later Macedonian rulers. Although most historical accounts take the death of Alexander as the end point of Mesopotamian history, there was no sudden end in 332 B.C. Instead, there was a slow decline in some cities, eclipsed by new foundations and centers of power such as Seleucia; others continued to exist and even flourish, well into the Parthian period. Only when the whole region became marginalized between Rome and Persia did the old cities become deserted, the haunts of jackals and ghosts.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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