Sargon united all the Sumerian city states. He also carried his victorious arms as far west as
Syria and ruled over ” the countries of the sea of the setting sun” (the Mediterranean). Sargon was, in fact, the first of the world conquerors, and his empire was the earliest known to history.
As with other national heroes, legends gathered about his name. It was told how his mother concealed his birth by placing him in a rush basket closed with pitch, and sent him adrift, like another Moses, on the river. A kindly water carrier rescued the babe and reared it as his own child.
This city became, henceforth, the real center of the Euphrates Valley, to which, indeed, it gave its name. Hammurabi was also an able statesman, who sought to develop the territories his sword had won. He dug canals to distribute the waters of the Euphrates and built granaries to store the wheat against a time of famine. In Babylon he raised temples and palaces. For all his kingdom he issued a code of laws, the oldest in the world. Its wise and humane regulations show what an advance in civilization had been accomplished more than twenty centuries before Christ.
The successors of Hammurabi continued to rule for several centuries, but their kingdom was more and Babylonia more disturbed by the invasions of foreign peoples. It was finally overthrown by the Hittites, who destroyed the capital city and deposed the last ruler of Hammurabi’s line. Though Babylonia recovered from this disaster, more than a thousand years passed before the country became again a great power in the Near East, under the famous king Nebuchadnezzar.