The Later Phases of Southern Mesopotamian Urbanism: Babylonia in the Second and First Millennia BC


Although considerable attention has been devoted to early urbanism in southern Mesopotamia, the later development of cities in the region has been neglected. By studying the Babylonian cities of the second and first millennia BC, it is possible to trace continuity and change in urbanism over some 3000 years of recorded history, from city-state to empire. The ideal of the southern Mesopotamian city comprised a standardized inventory of architectural elements that was remarkably persistent but also flexible, since it did not dictate the details of their plan or construction, nor their spatial relationship with one another. The salient characteristic of the city was its role as religious center: each city’s identity was bound up with its main temple, which housed its patron deity and dominated the social and economic life of the city and its hinterland.