Neo-Babylonian Empire

The Neo-Babylonian Empire known as the Second Babylonian Empire and known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last of the great Mesopotamian empires to be ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with Nabopolassar's coronation as King of Babylon in 626 BC and being established through the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 612 BC, the Neo-Babylonian Empire would be short-lived, being conquered after less than a century by the Persian Achaemenid Empire in 539 BC; the defeat of the Assyrians and the transfer of empire to Babylon marked the first time the city, southern Mesopotamia in general, had risen to dominate the Ancient Near East since the collapse of Hammurabi's Old Babylonian Empire nearly a thousand years prior. The period of Neo-Babylonian rule thus saw unprecedented economic and population growth throughout Babylonia and a renaissance of culture and artwork, with the Neo-Babylonian kings conducting massive building projects in Babylon itself, bringing back many elements from the previous two thousand or so years of Sumero-Akkadian culture.

The empire retains a position within modern day cultural memory due to the unflattering portrayal of Babylon and its greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar II, in the Bible, owed to Nebuchadnezzar's 587 BC destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent Babylonian captivity. Babylonian sources describe Nebuchadnezzar's reign as a golden age which transformed Babylonia into the greatest empire of its time. Religious policies introduced by the Neo-Babylonian Empire's final king, who favored the moon god Sîn over Babylon's patron deity Marduk provided a casus belli which allowed the Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great to invade Babylonia in 539 BC, portraying himself as a champion of Marduk divinely restoring order to the region. Babylon remained culturally distinct for centuries, with references to individuals with Babylonian names and references to the Babylonian religion being known from as late as the Parthian period in the 1st century BC. Although Babylon would revolt several times during the rule of empires, it never restored its independence.

Babylonia was founded as an independent state by an Amorite chieftain named Sumu-abum c. 1894 BC. For over a century after its founding, it was a minor and weak state, overshadowed by older and more powerful states such as Isin, Larsa and Elam. However, turned Babylon into a major power and conquered Mesopotamia and beyond, founding the Old or First Babylonian Empire. After the death of Hammurabi, his dynasty lasted for another century and a half, but the Babylonian Empire collapsed, Babylon once more became a small state. Babylonia fell to the Hittite king Mursili I c. 1595 BC, after which the Kassites took control and ruled for five centuries before being deposed by native Babylonian rulers, who continued to rule the Babylonian rump state. The population of Babylonia in this so-called Post-Kassite or Middle Babylonian period was composed of two main groups. By the 8th century, the constituent groups of the native Babylonians, the main population in the large cities, had lost their old identities and had assimilated into a unified "Babylonian" culture.

At the same time, the Chaldeans, though retaining their tribal structure and way of life, were becoming more "babylonized", many Chaldeans adopting traditional Babylonian names. These Babylonized Chaldeans became important players in the Babylonian political scene and by 730 BC, all of the major Chaldean tribes had produced at least one Babylonian king; the 9th to 8th century BC was catastrophic for the independent Babylonian kingdom, with many weak kings either failing to control all the groups composing Babylonia's population, failing to defeat rivals or failing to maintain important trade routes. This collapse resulted in Babylonia's powerful northern neighbor, the Neo-Assyrian Empire, intervening militarily in 745 BC and incorporating Babylonia into its empire in 729 BC; the Assyrian conquest began a century-long struggle for Babylonian independence against Assyria. Although the Assyrians incorporated the region into their empire and used the title of King of Babylon in addition to the title King of Assyria, Assyrian control of Babylonia wasn't stable or continuous and the century of Assyrian rule included several unsuccessful Babylonian revolts.

Early in the reign of the Neo-Assyrian king Sinsharishkun, the southern general Nabopolassar used ongoing political instability in Assyria, caused by an earlier brief civil war between Sinsharishkun and the general Sin-shumu-lishir, to revolt. In 626 BC, Nabopolassar assaulted and seized the cities of Babylon and Nippur. Sinsharishkun's response was decisive. Sinsharishkun failed to capture Babylon and Nabopolassar endured the Assyrian siege of Uruk, repulsing the Assyrian army. In November of 626 BC, Nabopolassar was formally crowned as King of Babylon, restoring Babylonia as an independent kingdom after more than a century of direct Assyrian rule. With only small successes during campaigns in northern Babylonia from 625–623 BC and more southern cities, such as Der, joining Nabopolassar, Sinsharishkun led a massive counterattack in 623 BC. Though this counterattack was successful and Sinsharishkun might have been victorious, he had to abandon the campaign due to a revolt in Assyr

Philip Venables

Philip Venables is a British composer best known for his operatic and theatrical works with themes of sexuality and politics. Born in Chester, Venables studied at Jesus College and the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied under Philip Cashian and was awarded the DipRAM diploma and the Manson Fellowship in Composition. Venables' orchestral works include Arc, written for the BBC Philharmonic, his operatic and vocal works include In ego, performed at the Bregenz Festival. His artistic collaborations have included Bound with Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon. Venables wrote the 2016 operatic adaptation of 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane for the Royal Opera at the Lyric Hammersmith. Authorised by Kane's estate as the first operatic adaptation of her work, the opera was well received by critics and nominated for the 2017 Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production. Venables is the Doctoral Composer in Residence at the Royal Opera House and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 2016, he became an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

Venables identifies many of his works touch on LGBT culture. He lives in Berlin. Official website

Magda Aelvoet

Magdalena Godelieve Hilda "Magda" Aelvoet is a Belgian, Flemish politician. She is a former president of the Greens in the European Parliament. From 1999 to 2002 she served as Deputy Prime Minister in the Verhofstadt I Government, but resigned because of a Belgian arms delivery to Nepal that she opposed. In 1995 she was made a Minister of State for her part in the negotiations of the Saint Michael's Accords 28 October 1985 – 17 October 1991: Senator 24 November 1991 – 19 July 1995: Representative 12/06/1994 – 13 June 1999: Member of European Parliament 06/07/1999 – 12/07/1999: Flemish Representative 1999 – 28 August 2002: Federal minister for Consumer Affairs, Public Health and Environment 30 January 1995 –: Minister of State Belgium: Commander of the Order of Leopold Link to Magda Aelvoet articles