Nabonidus, Last King of the Neo-Babylonian Empire

Last King of the Neo-Babylonian Empire

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Nabonidus was the last king of Neo-Babylonian Empire. Nabonidus ruled Babylonia from 556-539 B.C., when Babylon fell to Cyrus and the Persians. Upon Babylon’s capture, Nabonidus was exiled by the Persians.


Nabonidus’ background and family tree is somewhat cloudy, and his exact origins are unknown, although Nabonidus has claimed to be from unimportant origins. Very little is known about his family, but it is known that Nabonidus’ mother is Addagoppe.

Nabonidus worshiped the moon god known as Nanna, or also known commonly  as Sin, since his mother, Addagoppe, was a priestess of the moon god. However, Nabonidus' religious preference was unpopular and not widely accepted. He set up one of his daughters, Belshalti-Nannar, as high priestess of the moon god, as Sargon had done before him with his daughter, Enheduanna.

Doing a disappearing act worthy of Roman Emperor Tiberius when he went into self-imposed exile in Capri and allowed Sejanus to control Rome, King Nabonidus moved his capital to Teima, in Arabia. This was a caravan station in the trade network, with a sanctuary to the moon god. While he was out of Mesopotamia, Nabonidus let his eldest son, Belshazzer (mentioned in the Book of Daniel), rule Babylon as co-regent for 10 years. Nabonidus returned to Babylon in 539. He was soon captured and exiled by the Persians. From the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Nabonidus was king of Babylonia from 556 until 539 bc, when Babylon fell to  Cyrus , king of Persia. After a popular rising led by the priests of Marduk, chief god of the city, Nabonidus, who favoured the moon god Sin, made his son Belshazzar coregent and spent much of his reign in Arabia. Returning to Babylon in 539 bc, he was captured by Cyrus’ general Gobryas and exiled.”


Babylon was an ancient city in Mesopotamia. It was the capital city of Babylonia from the second to first millennium B.C., and then of the Chaldean Empire in the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. Its ruins lie about 55 miles south of Baghdad on the Euphrates River, in Iraq.

Hammurabi (18th C. B.C.) made Babylon the capital city of his kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar, centuries later, also made his capital in Babylon and rebuilt the city. Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon was the largest city of the time. In it was a temple of Marduk and ziggurat, the Tower of Babel. In 331 B.C. Babylon surrendered to Alexander the Great. After Alexander's death, Babylon fell into the hands of the Seleucids.

Babylon was a commercial, administrative, literary, and religious center. The chief god of Babylon, Marduk, became supreme Mesopotamian god.

Examples: Nabonidus was an early archaeologist who excavated and restored temples.