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A region of south Mesopotamia named for the city of Babylon. It became a province of the Third Dynasty of Ur in the late 3rd millennium BC and was established as an independent kingdom during the Old Babylonian period (c.1895-1595 BC), under the Amorite dynasty founded by Sumuabum (c.1895). Expansion into northern Mesopotamia by Hammurabi in about 1790- 1755 BC briefly established Babylonia as the leading imperial power in the Middle East. After Hammurabi's death, Babylonia declined; sacked by the Hittites in 1595 BC, it was so weakened that it was unable to resist a Kassite invasion (c.1570 BC). Under the Kassites, Babylonia became a powerful state once again, and was frequently at war with its Assyrian, Elamite and Aramaean neighbors. This dynasty was swept away when the Elamites sacked Babylon in 1157 BC, opening the way to a series of Aramaean and Chaldean dynasties. Babylonia became a mere vassal of the Assyrian empire from the mid-9th century BC, until its revival in the 7th century BC. During the Neo-Babylonian empire (c.626-539 BC), Babylonian independence was reasserted by Nabopolassar, who attacked Assyria and destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC, ending Assyrian power and taking over their domains. His son, Nebuchadnezzar, defeated the Egyptians in 605 BC, ensuring supremacy in the Middle East. The empire lasted until 539 BC, when Babylonia was taken over by Cyrus the Great, becoming the wealthiest satrapy of the Achemenid empire. The rich cultural heritage of Sumer and Akkad was adopted by later Babylonian rulers, who maintained their religious, artistic, architectural and literary traditions until conquest by the Persians in the 6th century BC.

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