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Historical Investigation Case Study: Babylonian Civilization

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Historical Investigation Case study: Babylonian Civilization

One of the most enthralling cities, still surrounded by mystery through the ages of the ancient world would be that of Babylon. Known for its tremendous size, beauty, culture, wealth and its advanced standard of civilization, that still intrigues historians to this day.

Focal Question 1: What were the roles played and the status achieved by women in Babylon?

The Babylonian woman's role and status has always been very strictly defined. It adamantly consisted of her as the daughter of her father or the wife of her husband. Women seldom acted as individuals outside the context of their families, those who rarely did however, were of royalty or the wives of men who had the most power and status amongst society.

In addition to a highly distinct social hierarchy in a patriarchal society, women too had status dependent

on the role they played. Women who came from the wealthy and influential sector of society had statues made and placed in temples; this was done so that their images were in constant prayer and assisted in defining them as the women who held the highest status.

New mothers and pregnant women were greatly regarded and received higher rations and privileges. The mother, the nurse and the physician all received higher rations if a boy was delivered, receiving almost twice the amount of mothers of baby girls.

If a wife failed to bear children to her husband, it was regarded as a serious predicament, and in usual situations resulted in a maidservant given the role of bearing the husbands children, if the maidservant produced a child however it was received as the wife's child. Under no circumstance would the maidservant be considered as an equal with the wife.

Women had the opportunity to own land, and run small services eg, from certain amounts of wheat their husband grew they were allowed to bake bread and sell it, it however was vigilantly watched over by the dominating male in the woman's life. Strict law codes in regard to these occupations were always adhered to, and they remained as an added chore, one of which was not the most prominent in the woman's life.

Women's main expectance was that of house keeping and childbearing, this was the task and main role the majority of women Babylon undertook.

Focal Question 2: What Religious beliefs and Rituals did the Babylonian People have?

Details of the religion and religious practices undertaken in Babylon have been well preserved by many classical writers and in parts of The Old Testament. From these sources alone, enough remains for the definite assertion that Babylonian religion was poly theistic and "strongly marked by features associated with fertility cults" (H.W.F Saggs, "The Babylonians") These ideas have been augmented and much clarified through materials including epics, myths, hymns and ritual instructions which further lead to the Babylonians belief in magic, as a result today historians struggle to draw a clear line of the Babylonians belief in magic and religion and the distinction between the two. Their was the strong ideology amongst all Babylonians that they saw themselves surrounded by constant supernatural forces, ranging from their gods to demons, the belief that the individual played the primary role in the gods or demons actions forced their daily routines to revolve around the pleasing of the gods, eg " if the gods were unhappy, that was the result of the drought, sacrifices and offerings were madeƐ'... when the rain did eventually come it was the belief that they were forgiven" P.Mann "Deeper Understandings of Ancient Times" To the primitive Babylonian all natural forces were the result of supernatural powers that controlled their human existence.

Babylonian religion was always temple centered, hence the gradual arising of the Pantheons due to the amalgamation of all deities. Elaborate festivals and rituals were undertaken here under the guidance of priests, the exorcist and diviner (who were trained to drive away evil spirits), all of whom where highly regard amongst society. These rituals considered primarily of caring for the gods, involving daily presentations of offerings, the cleaning of the divine statue's garments and the purification of the temples. Endowments by royal and wealthy people and the occasional gift such as war booty were also offered to the gods. Special festivals, in particular the Festival of the New Year were celebrated over a matter of days. They included at stately procession of all neighboring gods and the cities own gods, who were ranked in an order that reflected the political status of their own cities. Marduk (god of the rising son) was the most prominent of the Babylonian gods, he had fought all the gods and remained the most powerful becoming lord of the gods. Seven temples and a large Ziggurat where dedicated to him and numerous statues included one of pure gold where made as visual symbols of which the people prayed to, during the Festival of the New Year a representation of Marduk would be carried through the city for one day, thought to have brought good luck on the new year.

Focal Question 3: In what ways did Hammurabi further the success of Babylon?

Babylonia's beginnings are considered to be coterminous with the reign of Hammurabi. Hammurabi reigned over the Babylonian empire from 1792 BC until his death in 1750BC, and to this day is the most well known ruler of Babylon, possibly because of the ancient pre- Roman law code known as "The Hammurabi Law Code," other notable achievements stand in the progressing of the city of Babylon through military, cultural, economy and agricultural aspects. Hammurabi expanded the rule of Babylon by fore mostly conquering the cities of the South, before his conquest expanded to cover most parts of Mesopotamia, adding Larsa and Yatmubal to his dominion, forming a single monarchy centered in Babylon. Although Hammurabi experienced many military victories, his development of state, government and its structure was poor, however as a result Hammurabi remained adamant and active in building and restoring temples, building canals for irrigation furthering the trade and economy, and building impressive city walls.

Hammurabi upheld his greatest concern throughout his reign and that was the assurance of Babylon's control over the Euphrates River, the life source for the country.

The Hammurabi law code is often pointed to as the first example of any ancient legal concept, making it revolutionary for its time. Focusing on the protection

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