Ancient Mespoitamia - Day 03

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1 Ancient Mespoitamia - Day 03 Babylon Babylon is locat ed near Al Hillah, Iraq Semiramis Babylon is located close to Al Hillah, about 85 km south of Baghdad. The ancient metropolis of Babylon is one of the most famous cities of the ancient world and today can be found near the town of Al-Hillah in modern- day Iraq. Founded almost five thousand years ago, the city on the Euphrates has seen empires rise and fall and has been the centre of the highest forms of culture and the most brutal wars and devastation. It is likely that Babylon was founded in the third millennium BC and rose to prominence over the next thousand years. By the 18th century BC the city was the centre of the empire of Hammurabi. However, the changing political and military nature of the region saw Babylon fought over countless times over the following centuries, with one empire or dynasty after another securing Babylon as their home. A resurgence of an independent Babylonian empire briefly flourished towards the end of the 7th century BC under king Nebuchadnez z ar II famous for building great wonders within the city, including the renowned Hanging Gardens of Babylon yet even this dynasty failed to last, with Babylon falling to Cyrus the Great, king of the Persian Empire. In 331 BC Alexander the Great captured Babylon, and it was here he died in 323 BC. After the fall of Alexander s fledgling empire, Babylon was fought over by his surviving generals and was slowly abandoned over the following centuries. The ruins of Babylon have suffered greatly due to looting and destructive policies, leaving little behind that captures the glory of the once- great city. Saddam Hussein also built a new version of ancient Babylon over the site. Of Babylon s ancient ruins, it is still possible to see parts of Nebuchadnez z ar's palace and some of the old city walls. It is also possible to see a reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Although the site of Babylon is open to visitors, it is advisable to check with you government s official travel advice policy before undertaking any trips to Babylon.

2 Ancient Mespoitamia - Day 04 Qatna Archaeological Park Mishrifeh, Syria - Contact local tourist office Ent ry Inf o rmat io n: Entry is free. Sit e Direct io n: Located at Mishrifeh, Syria which is approx 20km northeast of Hims along route 48. Qatna Archaeological Park in Tell Mishrifeh in Syria houses the ruins of what was the thriving ancient Mesopotamian city of Qatna. Known to have first been occupied in the third millennium BC, Qatna s location on an important commercial and political crossroad connecting it to both the Mitanni empire and the ancient Egyptians allowed it to flourish. In fact, in the period between 1600BC and 1200BC, in the Late Bronz e Age, it grew to become a local kingdom. This period heralded a great deal of construction, including the building of Qatna s acropolis. However, much of this is still being excavated so is inaccessible to tourists. One significant part of Qatna Archaeological Park which is now open is an area of the Royal Palace. Constructed from 1650BC to 1550BC and with over eighty rooms on one level alone, Qatna Royal Palace would have been an impressive sight, but was devastated during the Hittite conquest of Syria in 1340BC.

3 Ancient Mespoitamia - Day 05 Tchogha Zanbil Tchogha Zanbil, Iran Dur Untash Contact local tourist office Tchogha Zanbil is home to the impressive remains of the ancient city of Dur Untash, the holy capital of the Elamite Kingdom. Located between Anshan and Suse, the city of Tchogha Zanbil would have been founded in 1250BC by King Untash- Napirisha. It would finally be abandoned in 640BC, following a devastating attack by King Ashurbanipal of the Assyrians. It was never completed. The undeniable focal point of the ruins of Tchogha Zanbil, also spelt Chogha Zanbil, is one of the greatest - if not in fact the greatest - z iggurats to have been built in Mesopotamia. Originally a temple dedicated to the deity Inshushinak, it developed to become the ornate pyramid- like structure - z iggurat - that stands today, although at 25 metres high it is now just a shadow of its former self having once risen to 60 metres. Beyond its great z iggurat, visitors to Tchogha Zanbil can also view ancient temples and palaces, including its 13th century BC Untash- Gal Palace. Tchogha Zanbil is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

4 Ancient Mespoitamia - Day 06 Tomb of Cyrus the Great Tomb of Cyrus t he Great, Pasargadae, Iran - The Tomb of Cyrus the Great is in the town of Pasargadae in Iran. The Tomb of Cyrus the Great is located in the former Persian capital of Pasargadae, now a UNESCO-listed town in Iran. Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus II, founded the Achaemenid Dynasty in the sixth century BC and with it the capital, Pasargadae. The Achaemenid Dynasty was vitally important, being the first ruling dynasty of the Persian Empire. The Tomb of Cyrus the Great is one of the main historic sites of modern Pasargadae. A stepped limestone structure crowned with a rectangular chamber, the Tomb of Cyrus the Great dates back to approximately BC. Legend has it that when Alexander the Great conquered Pasargadae in 330 BC, he had the tomb renovated in honour of Cyrus the Great. However, it has never been conclusively proved that this is indeed the tomb of the great Persian king. In fact, it was thought at one point to have been the tomb of the mother of the prophet Sulayman, accounting for various additions such as its carved mihrab, added in the 1970 s.

5 Ancient Mespoitamia - Day 07 Persepolis Takht-e Jamshid (Persepolis), nr. Shiraz, Iran Takht-e Jamshid Cont act Tourist Board Persepolis is about 50 miles from Shiraz. Local tours or private-hire taxis are usually available from Shiraz. Persepolis was the ancient capital of the Persian Empire during the Achaemenid era. Founded by Darius I around 515BC, the city stood as a magnificent monument to the vast power of Persian kings. Persepolis remained the centre of Persian power until the fall of the Persian Empire to Alexander the Great. The Macedonian conqueror captured Persepolis in 330BC and some months later his troops destroyed much of the city. Famously, the great palace of Xerxes was set alight with the subsequent fire burning vast swathes of the city. Persepolis does not seem to have recovered from this devastation and the city gradually declined in prestige, never again becoming a major seat of power. Today the imposing remains of Persepolis stand in modern-day Iran and the site is also known as Takht-e Jamshid. Located roughly 50 miles northeast of Shiraz, the ruins of Persepolis contain the remains of many ancient buildings and monuments. These include The Gate of All Nations, Apadana Palace, The Throne Hall, Tachara palace, Hadish palace, The Council Hall, and The Tryplion Hall. Persepolis was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979.

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