Ancient Babylonia - Nebuchadnezzar II
Nebuchadnezzar II marched back to Babylon and was crowned king, which inaugurated one of the most powerful periods in Babylonian history. Nebuchadnezzar continued his brilliant campaigns focusing his military maneuvers on the west, which he effectively brought under his control. It was the kingdom of Judah who had called upon Egypt to assist them against the Babylonians. King Nebuchadnezzar continued his attacks and on his second conquest the conquered Jerusalem in 586 BC taking the survivors as prisoners back to Babylon. This was known in Jewish history has "the Babylonian captivity" and "the exile". After he destroyed Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar focused his attacks upon Egypt and he conquered it in 568 BC though there has been no detailed account of this invasion ever discovered, it remains a tremendous success for the king of Babylon and the first time any Chaldean king had ever conquered Egypt.
After Nebuchadnezzar's death his successors remained obscure until Nabonidus (555-539 BC), the last of the dynasty, ascended the throne. According to history Nabonidus, for some reason, lived throughout 10 of the 17 years that he ruled, at an Arab desert oasis called Tema, which was a vast distance from Babylon. In Babylon he left his son Belshazzar, to rule on his behalf. Nabonidus and his mother were from Harran and claimed to have been a loyal subject to the last of the Assyrian kings. Both he and his mother were zealous worshipers of the moon-god Sin, the tutelary deity of Harran, but when Nabonidus tried to promote this cult in Babylonia, the native priests, especially those who followed Marduk, became enraged. This religious controversy split Babylonia in two. Some of this literary propaganda of the time has been recovered.
Babylonian culture flourished during the pax Assyriaca of the 7th century BC and again under the Chaldean dynasty of the sixth century BC. Their god Nabu, son of Marduk and god of writing and learning became very popular throughout that period. The practice of astrology permeated the Babylonian society to the point that there were nightly watches by the astrologers throughout the kingdom. Archeologists have recently recovered massive detailed records of the movements of heavenly bodies. Literature was copied and studied and many new compositions were created. In art and architecture the most impressive remains that have been unearthed by archeologists are in Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon. The city apparently had not changed much when the Greek historian Herodotus wrote about it less than a century later and called its Hanging Gardens one of the 7 wonders of the world. In 539 BC Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon. See Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon