Open Access Articles- Top Results for Chaldea


For the asteroid, see 313 Chaldaea. For other uses, see [[Chaldean (disambiguation)#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
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Chaldea (/kælˈdə/), from Ancient Greek: Χαλδαία, Chaldaia; Akkadian: māt Ḫaldu; Hebrew: כשדים‎, Kaśdim;[1] Aramaic: ܟܠܕܘ‎, Kaldo), also spelled Chaldaea, was a small Semitic nation which emerged between the late 10th and early 9th century BC, surviving until the mid 6th century BC, after which it disappeared, and the Chaldean tribes were absorbed into the native population of Babylonia.[2] It was located in the marshy land of the far south eastern corner of Mesopotamia, and briefly came to rule Babylon.

During a period of weakness in the East Semitic speaking kingdom of Babylonia, new tribes of West Semitic-speaking migrants[3] arrived in the region from the Levant between the 11th and 10th centuries BC. The earliest waves consisted of Suteans and Arameans, followed a century or so later by the Kaldu, a group who became known later as the Chaldeans or the Chaldees. The Hebrew Bible uses the term כשדים (Kaśdim) and this is translated as Chaldaeans in the Septuagint, although there is some dispute as to whether Kasdim in fact means Chaldean. These migrations did not affect Assyria to the north, which repelled these incursions.

The short-lived 11th dynasty of the Kings of Babylon (6th century BC) is conventionally known to historians as the Chaldean Dynasty, although only the first four rulers of this dynasty were positively known to be Chaldeans, and the last rulers, Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar, were known to be from Assyria.[4]

The region in which these migrant Chaldeans settled was in the far south eastern portion of Babylonia, lying chiefly on the right bank of the Euphrates. Though the name later came to be commonly used to refer to the whole of southern Mesopotamia for a short time, this was a misnomer, and Chaldea proper was in fact only the plain in the far south east formed by the deposits of the Euphrates and the Tigris, extending to about four hundred miles along the course of these rivers, and about a hundred miles in average width.


Chaldea is a name that is used in two different senses. In the early period, between the early 800's BC and late 600's BC, it was the name of a small sporadically independent territory under the domination of the Neo Assyrian Empire, in south eastern Babylonia extending to the western shores of the Persian Gulf.[1] At some point after the Chaldean tribes settled in the region it eventually became called mat Kaldi "land of Chaldeans" by the native Mesopotamian Assyrians and Babylonians. The expression mat Bit Yakin is also used, apparently synonymously. Bit Yakin was likely the chief or capital city of the land. The king of Chaldea was also called the king of Bit Yakin, just as the kings of Babylonia and Assyria are regularly styled simply king of Babylon or Assur, the capital city. In the same way, the Persian Gulf was sometimes called "the Sea of Bit Yakin, instead of "the Sea of the Land of Chaldea."

The boundaries of the early lands settled by Chaldeans in the early 800's BC are not identified with precision by historians. Chaldea generally referred to the low, marshy, alluvial land around the estuaries of the Tigris and Euphrates, which then discharged their waters through separate mouths into the sea. In a later time, between 608 BC and 557 BC, when the Chaldean tribe had burst their narrow bonds and obtained their short lived period of ascendency over all Babylonia, they briefly gave their name to the whole land of Babylonia, which was then somewhat inaccurately called Chaldea by some peoples, particularly the Jews, for a short time, although this term eventually fell out of use.

Chaldea, like the rest of Mesopotamia and much of the ancient Near East and Asia Minor, from the 10th to late 7th centuries BC, came to be dominated by the Neo Assyrian Empire (911-608 BC), based in northern Mesopotamia.

The Old Testament book of the prophet Habbakuk describes the Chaldeans as "a bitter and swift nation".[5]

Chaldean people

Unlike the East Semitic Akkadian-speaking Akkadians, Assyrians and Babylonians whose ancestors had been established in Mesopotamia since the 30th century BC, the Chaldeans (not to be confused with the unrelated modern Chaldean Catholics of northern Iraq, who are accepted to be one and the same people as the modern Assyrians[6][7][8]) were certainly not a native Mesopotamian people, but were late 10th or early 9th century BC West Semitic migrants from the south eastern Levant to the far south eastern corner of the region, and thus had played no part in the previous 3,000 years of Mesopotamian civilisation and history.[9][10] They seem to have appeared there some time between c. 940 - 860 BC, a century or so after other new Semitic peoples, the Arameans and the Suteans appeared in Babylonia, c. 1100 BC. This was a period of weakness in Babylonia, and its ineffectual native kings were unable to prevent new waves of semi-nomadic foreign peoples invading and settling in the land.[11]

Though belonging to the same West Semitic ethnic group, and migrating from the same Levantine regions as the earlier arriving Arameans, they are to be differentiated from them; and the Assyrian king Sennacherib, for example, is careful in his inscriptions to distinguish them.

When they came to briefly possess the whole of southern Mesopotamia, the name "Chaldean" became synonymous with "Babylonian" for a short time, particularly to the Greeks and Jews, this despite the Chaldeans not being Babylonians, and their tenure as rulers of Southern Mesopotamia lasting a mere five decades or so.

Though foreign immigrants, and for a brief period rulers of Babylonia, the Chaldeans were rapidly and completely assimilated into the dominant East Semitic Akkadian Assyro-Babylonian culture, as the Amorites, Kassites, Suteans and Arameans before them had been. By the time Babylon fell in 539 BC, the Chaldean tribes had already disappeared as a distinct race, becoming completely absorbed into the general population of southern Mesopotamia, and the term "Chaldean" was no longer used or relevant in describing a specific ethnicity. However the term lingered for a while, but being used specifically and only in relation to describing a socio-economic class of astrologers, and not a race of men. The nation of Chaldea in south east Mesopotamia seems to have disappeared even before the fall of Babylon (whose final two rulers were not Chaldeans), and the succeeding Achaemenid Empire did not retain a province or land called Chaldea, and makes no mention of a Chaldean race in its annals.

The Chaldeans originally spoke a West Semitic language similar to Aramaic, however they eventually adopted the Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, the same East Semitic language, save for slight peculiarities in sound and in characters, as Assyrian Akkadian. During the Assyrian Empire, the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III introduced an Akkadian infused Eastern Aramaic as the lingua franca of his empire. In late periods both the Babylonian and Assyrian dialects of Akkadian ceased to be spoken, and Mesopotamian Aramaic took its place across Mesopotamia, including among the Chaldeans. The still Akkadian influenced language remains the mother tongue of the Assyrian (also known as Chaldo-Assyrian) Christians of northern Iraq and its surrounds to this day. One form of this widespread language is used in Daniel and Ezra, but the use of the name "Chaldee" to describe it, first introduced by Jerome, is incorrect and a misnomer.

In the Hebrew Bible, the prophet Abraham is stated to have originally been from "Ur of the Chaldees" (Ur Kaśdim); if this city is to be identified with the ancient Sumerian city state of Ur, it would be within what would many centuries later become the Chaldean homeland south of the Euphrates, although it must be pointed out that the Chaldeans certainly did not exist in Mesopotamia (or anywhere else in historical record) at the time that Abraham is believed to have existed (circa 1800-1700 BC), arriving some eight or nine hundred years later.[12] This fact casts serious doubt on the chronological accuracy and historicity of the Abrahamic story. On the other hand, the traditional identification with a site in Assyria (a nation in Upper Mesopotamia both predating Chaldea by well over one thousand three hundred years, and one which was never recorded in historical annals as ever having been inhabited by the much later arriving Chaldeans) would then imply the later sense of "Babylonia". Some interpreters have additionally identified Abraham's birthplace with Chaldia in Asia Minor on the Black Sea, a distinct region utterly unrelated geographically, culturally and ethnically to the south east Mesopotamian Chaldea. According to the Book of Jubilees, Ur Kaśdim (and Chaldea) took their name from Ura and Kesed, descendants of Arpachshad. However, by the beginning of the 21st century, and despite sporadic attempts by more conservative theologically minded scholars such as Kenneth Kitchen to save these Biblical patriarchal narratives as actual true history, many modern archaeologists, orientalists and historians had "given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac or Jacob credible or realistic 'historical figures'"[13]

The term "Chaldean" has fairly recently been revived, being used (historically, ethnically and geographically wholly inaccurately) to describe those Assyrians who broke from the Church of the East in the 16th and 17th centuries AD, and entered communion with the Roman Catholic Church. After pointedly initially calling it "The Church of Assyria and Mosul" in 1553 AD, and its first leader Patriarch of the East Assyrians. it was much later renamed as the Chaldean Catholic Church, in 1683 AD. However this line too reverted to the Assyrian church, and the modern Chaldean Catholic Church was only founded in 1830 AD. The term Chaldean Catholic is inaccurate in ethnic, historical and geographic senses, and should be taken purely as a Christian denominational rather than a racial term, as the modern Chaldean Catholics are in fact ethnically Assyrian people,[14] converts to Catholicism, long indigenous to the Assyrian homeland in the North of Mesopotamia, rather than the long extinct Chaldeans who hailed from The Levant, and settled in the far Southeast of Mesopotamia before wholly disappearing during the 6th century BC. There has been no accredited academic study nor historical evidence which links the modern Chaldean Catholics to the ancient Chaldeans, in other words no Chaldean continuity. The evidence conclusively points to them being one and the same people as, and hailing from the same region as the Assyrians, in other words they are in fact a part of the Assyrian continuity. The naming by Rome is believed to be due to the misinterpretation of Ur Kasdim the supposed north Mesopotamian birthplace of Abraham in Hebraic tradition as Ur of the Chaldees, and an unwillingness to use the original and earlier terms the Catholic Church had used such as Assyrians, East Assyrians, East Syrians and Nestorians due to their connotations with the Assyrian Church of the East and Syriac Orthodox Church.[15]

It is noteworthy that term Chaldeans already had a history of being used in an ethnically and geographically inaccurate sense by Rome,[16] having been previously officially used by the Council of Florence in 1445 as a new name for a group of Greek Nestorians of Cyprus who entered in Full Communion with the Catholic Church. Rome followed to use the term Chaldeans to indicate the members of the Church of the East in Communion with Rome (mainly not to use the term Nestorian that was theologically unacceptable) also in 1681 for Joseph I and later in 1830 when Yohannan Hormizd, of the line of Alqosh, became the first so called "Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans" of the modern Chaldean Catholic Church. In addition, Rome had also long misapplied the name Chaldea to the completely unrelated Chaldia in Asia Minor on the Black Sea.


Further information: Neo-Babylonian Empire

The region that the Chaldeans settled in, and eventually made their homeland, was in the relatively poor country in the far south east of Mesopotamia, at the head of the Persian Gulf. They appear to have migrated into southern Babylonia from The Levant at some unknown point between the end of the reign of Ninurta-kudurri-usur II (a contemporary of Tiglath-Pileser II) circa 940 BC, and the start of the reign of Marduk-zakir-shumi I in 855 BC, although there is no historical proof of their existence prior to the late 850's BC.[17]

For perhaps a century or so after settling in the area, these semi nomadic migrant Chaldean tribes had no impact upon the pages of history, seemingly remaining subjugated by the native Akkadian speaking kings of Babylon, or perhaps regionally influential Aramean tribes. The main players in southern Mesopotamia during this period were the indigenous Babylonians and Assyrians, together with the Elamites to the east, and Aramean tribes which had already settled in the region a century or so prior to the arrival of the Chaldeans.

The very first historical attestation of the Chaldeans occurs in 852 BC,[18] in the annals of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III who mentions invading the south eastern extremes of Babylonia and subjugating one Mushallim-Marduk, the chief of the Amukani tribe and overall leader of the Kaldu tribes,[19] together with capturing the town of Baqani, extracting tribute from Adini, chief of the Bet-Dakkuri, another Chaldean tribe.

Shalmanesser III had invaded Babylonia at the request of its own king, Marduk-zakir-shumi I. The Babylonian king being threatened by his own rebellious relations, together with powerful Aramean tribes. The subjugation of the Chaldean tribes appears to have been an aside, as they were not at that time a powerful force, or a threat to the native Babylonian king.

Important Kaldu regions in south eastern Babylonia were; Bit-Yâkin (the original area the Chaldeans settled in, on the Persian Gulf), Bet-Dakuri, Bet-Adini, Bet-Amukkani, and Bet-Shilani.

Chaldean leaders had by this time already adopted native Assyro-Babylonian names, religion, language and customs, indicating that they had become firmly Akkadianized to a great degree.

The Chaldeans remained quietly ruled by the native Babylonians (who were in turn subjugated by their Assyrian relations) for the next seventy two years, only coming to historical prominence in Babylonia in 780 BC, when a previously unknown Chaldean named Marduk-apla-usur usurped the throne from the native Babylonian king Marduk-bel-zeri (790-780 BC), the latter being a vassal of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser IV (783-773 BC), who was otherwise occupied quelling a civil war in Assyria at the time.

This was to set a precedent for all future Chaldean aspirations on Babylon during the Neo Assyrian Empire; always too weak to confront a strong Assyria alone and directly, the Chaldeans would await periods when Assyrian kings were distracted elsewhere, or engaged in internal conflicts, then, in alliance with other powers stronger than themselves (usually Elam), they would make a bid for control over Babylonia.

Shalmaneser IV attacked and defeated Marduk-apla-usur, retaking northern Babylonia, and forcing a border treaty in Assyria's favour upon him. However he was allowed to remain on the throne by the Assyrians, though subjected to Assyria. Eriba-Marduk, another Chaldean, succeeded him in 769 BC and his son, Nabu-shuma-ishkun in 761 BC, with both also being dominated by the new Assyrian king Ashur-Dan III (772-755 BC). Babylonia appears to have been in a state of chaos during this time, with the north occupied by Assyria, its throne occupied by foreign Chaldeans, and continual civil unrest extant throughout the land.

However, Chaldean rule proved short lived. A native Babylonian king named Nabonassar (748-734 BC) defeated and overthrew the Chaldean usurpers in 748 BC, restored indigenous rule, and successfully stabilised Babylonia. The Chaldeans once more faded into obscurity for the next three decades. During this time both the Babylonians and the Chaldean and Aramean migrant groups settled within their land once more fell completely under the yoke of the powerful Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BC), a ruler who introduced Imperial Aramaic as the lingua franca of his empire. The Assyrian king at first made Nabonassar and his successor native Babylonian kings Nabu-nadin-zeri, Nabu-suma-ukin II and Nabu-mukin-zeri his subjects, but decided ruled Babylonia directly from 729 BC. He was followed by Shalmaneser V (727-722 BC), who also ruled Babylon in person.

However, when Sargon II (722-705 BC) ascended the throne of the Assyrian Empire in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V, he was forced to launch a major campaign in Persia and Media in Ancient Iran, defeating and driving out the Scythians and Cimmerians who had attacked Assyria's Persian and Median vassal colonies in the region, whilst at the same time Egypt began encouraging and supporting rebellion against Assyria in Israel and Canaan.

These events allowed the Chaldeans to once more attempt to assert themselves. While the Assyrian king was otherwise occupied defending his Iranian colonies, Marduk-apla-iddina II (the Biblical Merodach-Baladan) of Bit-Yâkin, allied himself with the powerful Elamite kingdom and the native Babylonians, briefly seizing control of Babylon between 721 and 710 BC. With the Scythians and Cimmerians vanquished and the Egyptians defeated and ejected from southern Canaan, Sargon II was free at last to deal with the Chaldeans, Babylonians and Elamites. He attacked and deposed Marduk-apla-iddina II in 710 BC, also defeating his Elamite allies in the process. After defeat by the Assyrians, Merodach-Baladan fled to his protectors in Elam.

In 703 Merodach-Baladan very briefly regained the throne from a native Akkadian-Babylonian ruler Marduk-zakir-shumi II who was a puppet of the new Assyrian king, Sennacherib (705-681 BC). He was once more soundly defeated at Kish, and once again fled to Elam where he died in exile after one final failed attempt to raise a revolt against Assyria in 700 BC, this time not in Babylon, but in the Chaldean tribal land of Bit-Yâkin. A native Babylonian king named Bel-ibni (703-701 BC) was placed on the throne as a puppet of Assyria.

The next challenge to Assyrian domination was to come from the Elamites in 694 BC, with Nergal-ushezib deposing and murdering Ashur-nadin-shumi (700-694 BC), the Assyrian prince who was king of Babylon, and son of Sennacherib. The Chaldeans and Babylonians again allied themselves with their more powerful Elamite neighbours in this endeavour. This led to the infuriated Assyrian king Sennacherib invading and subjugating Elam and Chaldea, and sacking Babylon, laying waste to and largely destroying the city. Babylon was regarded as a sacred city by all Mesopotamians, including the Assyrians, and this act eventually led Sennacherib to be murdered by his own sons while praying to the god Nisroch in Nineveh.

Esarhaddon (681–669 BC) succeeded Sennacherib as ruler of the Assyrian Empire, and completely rebuilt Babylon and brought peace to the region, allowing him to conquer Egypt, Nubia and Libya and entrench his mastery over the Persians, Medes, Scythians and Cimmerians. For the next 60 or so years Babylon and Chaldea remained under direct Assyrian control. The Chaldeans remained subjugated and quiet during this period, and the next major revolt in Babylon against the Assyrian empire was fermented not by a Chaldean, Babylonian or Elamite, but by Shamash-shum-ukin, who was an Assyrian king of Babylon, and elder brother of Ashurbanipal, the ruler of the Neo Assyrian Empire.

Shamash-shum-ukin (668-648 BC) had become infused with Babylonian nationalism after sixteen years peacefully subject to his brother, and despite being Assyrian himself, declared that the city of Babylon and not Nineveh should be the seat of empire.

In 652 BC he raised a powerful coalition of peoples, resentful of their subjugation to Assyria, against his own brother Ashurbanipal. The alliance included the Babylonians, Persians, Chaldeans, Medes, Elamites, Suteans, Arameans, Israelites, Arabs and Canaanites, together with some disaffected Assyrian elements. After a bitter struggle lasting five years the Assyrian king triumphed over his rebellious brother in 648 BC, Elam was destroyed, and the Babylonians, Persians, Chaldeans, Arabs and others were savagely punished. An Assyrian governor named Kandalanu was then placed on the throne of Babylon to rule on behalf of Ashurbanipal. The next 22 years were peaceful, and neither the Babylonians nor Chaldeans posed any threat to the dominance of Ashurbanipal.

However, after the death of Ashurbanipal (and Kandalanu) in 627 BC, the Neo Assyrian Empire descended into a series of bitter internal dynastic civil wars which were to be the cause its downfall.

Ashur-etil-ilani (626-623 BC) ascended to the throne of the empire in 626 BC, but was immediately engulfed in rebellions from rival claimants, being deposed in 623 BC by a rebellious Assyrian general (turtanu) named Sin-shumu-lishir (623-622 BC), who was also declared king of Babylon. Sin-shar-ishkun (622-612 BC), the brother of Ashur-etil-ilani, took the throne of empire from Sin-shumu-lishir in 622 BC, but was then himself faced with unremitting rebellions against his rule by his own people. The continual brutal and draining conflicts among the Assyrians led to a myriad of subject peoples from Cyprus to Persia and The Caucasus to Egypt, quietly reasserting their independence, and ceasing to pay tribute to Assyria.

Nabopolassar, a previously obscure and unknown Chaldean chieftain, following the opportunistic tactics laid down by previous Chaldean leaders, took advantage of the violent chaos and anarchy gripping Assyria and Babylonia, and seized the city of Babylon in 620 BC, with the help of its native Babylonian inhabitants.

Sin-shar-ishkun amassed a powerful army and marched into Babylon to regain control of the region. However, Nabopolassar was saved from likely destruction, as yet another massive Assyrian rebellion broke out in Assyria proper, including the capital Nineveh, and the Assyrian king was forced to turn back in order to quell the revolt. Nabopolassar once more took advantage of this situation, seizing the ancient city of Nippur in 619 BC, a mainstay of pro-Assyrianism in Babylonia, and thus Babylonia as a whole.

However, his position was still far from secure, and bitter fighting continued in the Babylonian heartlands from 620 to 615 BC, with Assyrian forces encamped in Babylonia in an attempt to eject Nabopolassar. Nabopolassar attempted a counterattack, he marched his army into Assyria proper in 616 BC and tried to besiege Assur and Arrapha (Kirkuk), but was defeated by Sin-shar-ishkun and chased back into Babylonia. A stalemate seemed to have ensued, with Nabopolassar unable to make any inroads into Assyria despite its greatly weakened state, and Sin-shar-ishkun unable to eject Nabopolassar from Babylonia due to constant fighting and civil war among his own people.

Nabopolassar's position, and the fate of the Assyrian empire, was sealed when he entered into an alliance with another of Assyria's former vassals, the Medes, the now dominant people of what was to become Persia. The Median Cyaxares had also recently taken advantage of the anarchy in the Assyrian Empire to free the Iranian peoples, the Medes, Persians and Parthians, from Assyrian rule, moulding them into a large and powerful Median dominated force. The Medes, Persians, Parthians, Chaldeans and Babylonians formed an alliance, which also included the Scythians and Cimmerians to the north.

While Sin-shar-ishkun was fighting both the rebels in Assyria and the Chaldeans and Babylonians in southern Mesopotamia, Cyaxares (hitherto a vassal of Assyria), in an alliance with the Scythians and Cimmerians, launched a surprise attack on the civil war bleaguered Assyria in 615 BC, sacking Kalhu (the Biblical Calah/Nimrud) and taking Arrapkha (modern Kirkuk). Nabopolassar, still pinned down in southern Mesopotamia, was completely uninvolved in this major breakthrough against Assyria.

However, from this point, the alliance of Medes, Persians, Chaldeans, Babylonians, Scythians and Cimmerians fought in unison against Assyria.

Despite the sorely depleted state of Assyria, bitter fighting ensued; throughout 614 BC the alliance of powers continued to make inroads into Assyria itself, however in 613 BC the Assyrians somehow rallied against the odds and scored a number of counterattacking victories over the Medes-Persians, Babylonians-Chaldeans and Scythians-Cimmerians. This led to the coalition of forces ranged against it to unite and launch a massive combined attack in 612 BC, finally besieging and sacking Nineveh in late 612 BC, killing Sin-shar-ishkun in the process.

However, a new Assyrian king Ashur-uballit II (612-605 BC) took the crown amidst the house to house fighting in Nineveh, and refused a request to bow in vassalage to the rulers of the alliance. He somehow managed to fight his way out of Nineveh, and battle his way to the northern Assyrian city of Harran where he founded a new capital. Assyria resisted for another seven years, until 605 BC, when the remnants of the Assyrian Army and the army of the Egyptians (whose dynasty had also been installed as puppets by the Assyrians) were defeated at Karchemish. Nabopolassar and his Median, Scythian and Cimmerian allies were now in possession of much of the huge Neo Assyrian Empire. The Egyptians had belatedly come to the aid of Assyria, fearing that without Assyrian protection they would be next to succumb to the new powers, having already been raided by the Scythians.

The Chaldean king of Babylon now ruled all of southern Mesopotamia (although Assyria in the north was ruled by the Medes as Athura), and the former Assyrian possessions of Aram (Syria), Phoenicia, Israel, Cyprus, Edom, Philistia, and parts of Arabia, while the Medes took control of the former Assyrian colonies in Iran, Asia Minor and the Caucasus.

Nabopolassar, was not able to enjoy his success for long, dying in 604 BC, only one year after the victory at Carchemish. He was succeeded by his son, who took the name Nebuchadnezzar II, after the unrelated 12th century BC native Akkadian-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar I, indicating the extent to which the migrant Chaldeans had become infused with native Mesopotamian culture.

Nebuchadnezzar II and his allies may well have been forced to deal with remnants of Assyrian resistance based in and around Dur-Katlimmu, as Assyrian imperial records continue in this region between 604 and 599 BC,[20] in addition the Egyptians remained in the region, possibly in an attempt to aid their former masters, and to carve out an empire of their own.

Nebuchadnezzar II was to prove himself to be the greatest of the Chaldean rulers, rivaling another non-native ruler, the 18th century BC Amorite king Hammurabi, as the greatest king of Babylon. He was a patron of the cities and a spectacular builder. He rebuilt all of Babylonia's major cities on a lavish scale. His building activity at Babylon, expanding on the earlier major and impressive rebuilding of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon, helped in turning it into the immense and beautiful city of legend. Babylon covered more than three square miles, surrounded by moats and ringed by a double circuit of walls. The Euphrates flowed through the center of the city, spanned by a beautiful stone bridge. At the center of the city rose the giant ziggurat called Etemenanki, "House of the Frontier Between Heaven and Earth," which lay next to the Temple of Marduk. He is also believed by many historians to have built The Hanging Gardens of Babylon (although many others believe these gardens were in fact built much earlier, by an Assyrian king in Nineveh), for his wife, a Median princess from the mountains so that she would feel at home.

A capable leader, Nabuchadnezzar II, conducted successful military campaigns, cities like Tyre, Sidon and Damascus were also subjugated. He also conducted numerous campaigns in Asia Minor against the Scythians, Cimmerians, and Lydians. Like their Assyrian relations, the Babylonians had to campaign yearly in order to control their colonies.

In 601 BC Nebuchadnezzar II was involved in a major, but inconclusive battle, against the Egyptians. In 599 BC he invaded Arabia and routed the Arabs at Qedar. In 597 BC he invaded Judah, captured Jerusalem, and deposed its king Jehoiachin. Egyptian and Babylonian armies fought each other for control of the near east throughout much of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, and this encouraged king Zedekiah of Judah to revolt. After an eighteen-month siege Jerusalem was captured in 587 BC, thousands of Jews were deported to Babylon and Solomon's Temple was razed to the ground.

Nebuchadnezzar successfully fought the Pharaohs Psammetichus II and Apries throughout his reign, and during the reign of Pharaoh Amasis in 568 BC it is rumoured that he may have briefly invaded Egypt itself.

By 572 Nebuchadnezzar was in full control of Babylonia, Chaldea, Aramea (Syria), Phonecia, Israel, Judah, Philistia, Samarra, Jordan, northern Arabia, and parts of Asia Minor. Nebuchadnezzar died of illness in 562 BC after a one-year co-reign with his son, Amel-Marduk, who was deposed in 560 BC after a reign of only two years.

End of the Chaldean dynasty

Neriglissar succeeded Amel-Marduk. It is unclear as to whether he was in fact an ethnic Chaldean or a native Babylonian nobleman, as he was not related by blood to Nabopolassar's descendants, having married into the ruling family. He conducted successful military campaigns against the Hellenic inhabitants of Cilicia, which had threatened Babylonian interests.

Neriglissar however reigned for only four years, being succeeded by the youthful Labashi-Marduk in 556 BC. Again it is unclear as to whether he was a Chaldean or a native Babylonian.

Labashi-Marduk reigned only for a matter of months, being deposed by Nabonidus in late 556 BC. Nabonidus, was certainly not a Chaldean, ironically he was an Assyrian from Harran, the last capital of Assyria. Nabonidus proved to be the final native Mesopotamian king of Babylon, he and his son, the regent Belshazzar, being deposed by the Persians under Cyrus II in 539 BC.

When the Babylonian Empire was absorbed into the Persian Achaemenid Empire, the name "Chaldean" completely lost its meaning in reference a particular ethnicity, and came to be applied only to a socioeconomic class of astrologers and astronomers. The actual Chaldean tribe had long ago became Akkadianized, adopting Assyro-Babylonian culture, religion, language and customs, blending into the majority native population, and they eventually wholly disappeared as a distinct race of people, much as other fellow preceding migrant peoples, such as the Amorites, Kassites, Suteans and Arameans of Babylonia had also done.

The Persians found this so-called Chaldean societal class masters of reading and writing, and especially versed in all forms of incantation, in sorcery, witchcraft, and the magical arts. They spoke of astrologists and astronomers as Chaldeans; consequently, Chaldean came to mean simply astrologist rather than an ethnic Chaldean. It is used with this specific meaning in the Book of Daniel (Dan. i. 4, ii. 2 et seq.) and by classical writers such as Strabo.

The disappearance of the Chaldeans as an ethnicity and Chaldea as a land is evidenced by the fact that the Persian rulers of the Achaemenid Empire (539 - 330 BC) did not retain a province called Chaldea, nor did they refer to Chaldeans as a race of people in their written annals. This is in contrast to Assyria, and for a time Babylonia also, where the Persians retained Assyria and Babylonia as distinct and named geo-political entities within the Achaemenid Empire, and in the case of the Assyrians in particular, Achaemenid records show Assyrians holding important positions within the empire, particularly with regards to the military and civil administration.[21]

This complete absence of Chaldeans from historical record also continues throughout the Seleucid Empire, Parthian Empire, Roman Empire, Sassanid Empire, Byzantine Empire and after the Arab Islamic conquest and Mongol Empire.

By the time of Cicero in the 2nd century BC, Chaldean appears to have completely disappeared even as a societal term for Babylonian astronomers and astrologers; Cicero refers to "Babylonian astrologers" rather than Chaldean astrologers.[22] Horace does the same, referring to "Babylonian horoscopes" rather than Chaldean[23] in his famous Carpe Diem ode; Cicero views the Babylonian astrologers as holding obscure knowledge, while Horace thinks that they are wasting their time and would be happier "going with the flow".

The terms Chaldee and Chaldean were henceforth only found only in Hebraic and Biblical sources dating from the 6th and 5th centuries BC, and referring specifically to the period of the Chaldean Dynasty of Babylon.

After an absence from history of two thousand two hundred and thirty six years, the name was revived by the Roman Catholic Church, in the form of the Chaldean Catholic Church in the 1683 AD, as the new name for the Church of Assyria and Mosul (so named in 1553 AD). However, this was a church founded and populated not by the long extinct Chaldean tribe of south eastern extremes Mesopotamia who had disappeared from the pages of history over twenty two centuries previously, but founded in northern Mesopotamia by a breakaway group of ethnic Assyrians long indigenous to Upper Mesopotamia (Assyria) who had hitherto been members of the Assyrian Church of the East before entering communion with Rome.[24][25]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Chaldea". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  2. ^ George Roux - Ancient Iraq - p281
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "West Semitic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
  4. ^ Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq
  5. ^ "Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible". 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Hitti, Philip Khuri (1957), History of Syria, including Lebanon and Palestine Macmillan; St. Martin's P.: London, New York
  8. ^ Unrepresented Nations and People Organization | UNPO, Assyrians the Indigenous People of Iraq [1]
  9. ^ F Leo Oppenheim - Ancient Mesopotamia
  10. ^ Georges Roux - Ancient Iraq
  11. ^ F. Leo Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia
  12. ^ Moore & Kelle 2011, p. 18-19.
  13. ^ Dever 2002, p. 98 and fn.2.
  14. ^ From a lecture by J. A. Brinkman: "There is no reason to believe that there would be no racial or cultural continuity in Assyria, since there is no evidence that the population of Assyrians were removed." Quoted in Efram Yildiz's "The Assyrians" Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, 13.1, pp. 22, ref 24
  15. ^ Biblical Archaeology Review May/June 2001: Where Was Abraham's Ur?.
  16. ^ Council of Florence, Bull of union with the Chaldeans and the Maronites of Cyprus Session 14, 7 August 1445 [1]
  17. ^ Georges Roux - Ancient Iraq p.298
  18. ^ A. K. Grayson (1996). Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millennium BC II (858-745 B.C.) (RIMA 3). Toronto University Press. pp. 31, 26–28. iv 6
  19. ^ Door fitting from the Balawat Gates, BM 124660.
  20. ^ Assyria 1995: Proceedings of the 10th Anniversary Symposium of the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project / Helsinki, September 7–11, 1995.
  21. ^ "Assyrians after Assyria". 4 September 1999. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  22. ^ Cicero, Pro Murena, ch. 21
  23. ^ Horace, Odes 1.11
  24. ^ George V. Yana (Bebla), "Myth vs. Reality" JAA Studies, Vol. XIV, No. 1, 2000 p. 80
  25. ^ O’Mahony, Anthony (2006). "Syriac Christianity in the modern Middle East". In Angold, Michael. Eastern Christianity. Cambridge History of Christianity 5. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-81113-2.

Lenorman, Francois. Chaldean Magic: Its Origin and Development. London, England: Samuel Bagster and Sons [1877]

External links

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