Babylon: Memories of Empire


This module — either half of which can also be taken as a stand-alone half-module — focuses on the famous city of Babylon in the period c. 600-c.100 BC. How did such an ephemeral empire leave such a lasting impression, not only on its immediate successors but also on major world cultures right through to today?

In the first term we will concentrate on its brief heyday as the centre of a powerful territorial empire ruling most of the Middle East (c.627–539 BC) under kings such as Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus. We shall also consider its powerful legacy in the Biblical and Classical traditions, and consider the extent to which archaeological rediscovery has affected those tropes.

In the second term we will consider the long afterlife of the city and its cultural hinterland under the Achaemenid, Seleucid and Parthian empires (539–c.50 BC). At times Babylon was a centre of concerted political and cultural resistance to imperial rule, determined to reclaim its former independence; at others it appears to have been a more docile subject.

Level: 7


  • Babylon: Memories of Empire - Full year
  • Imperial Babylon, c.627–539 BC, and its reception - Term 1 only
  • Babylon under imperial rule, 539–c.50 BC - Term 2 only

Module codes: 

  • HIST0444 (previously HISTGA78): 30 credits - Full year
  • HIST0445 (previously HIATGA78A): 15 credits - Term 1
  • HIST0446 (previously HISTGA78B): 15 credits - Term 2
  • HIST0447 (previously HISTGA79): 40 credits - Full year
  • HIST0448 (previously HISTGA79A): 20 credits - Term 1
  • HIST0449 (previously HISTGA79B): 20 credits - Term 2

Assessment methods:

  • HIST0444: 2 X 4,000-word essay (50% each)
  • HIST0447: 2 X 5,000-word essay (50% each)
  • HIST0445 / HIST0446: 1 X 4,000-word essay (100%)
  • HIST0448 / HIST0449: 1 X 5,000-word essay (100%)