For two thousand years the real, physical metropolis lay buried while another, ghostly city lived on through ideas as varied as the legendary Hanging Gardens, the career of the biblical Daniel, and even the Apocalypse.
More recently, the site of Babylon has been the centre of major excavation, yet the spectacular results of this work have done little to displace the many other fascinating ways in which the city has endured and reinvented itself in culture.
Saddam Hussein, for one, notoriously exploited the Babylonian myth to associate himself and his regime with its glorious past.
Why has Babylon so creatively fired the human imagination, with results both good and ill?
Why has it been enthralling to so many, and for so long?In exploring answers, Michael Seymour ranges extensively over space and time and embraces art, archaeology, history and literature. From Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar, via Strabo and Diodorus, to the Book of Revelation, Bruegel, Rembrandt, Voltaire, William Blake and modern interpreters like Umberto Eco, Italo Calvino and Gore Vidal, the author brings to light a carnival of disparate sources dominated by powerful and intoxicating ideas such as the Tower of Babel and the city of sin.
Babylon: Legend, History and the Ancient City weighs idea against reality, fiction against fact, conjuring the fascinating story of this ancient metropolis and its legacy to brilliant life as never before.