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Babylonian Map of the World

6th century BC clay tablet / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Babylonian Map of the World (or Imago Mundi) is a Babylonian clay tablet written in the Akkadian language. Dated to no earlier than the 9th century BC (with a late 8th or 7th date being more likely), it includes a brief and partially lost textual description. The tablet describes the oldest known depiction of the known world. Ever since its discovery there have been a variety of divergent views on what it represents in general and about specific features in particular.[1]

Quick facts: Babylonian Map of the World, Material, Size, ...
Babylonian Map of the World
SizeHeight: 12.2 cm (4.8 in)
Width: 8.2 cm (3.2 in)
Createdafter 9th century BC
/ early Achaemenid period
Present locationBritish Museum, (BM 92687)

The map is centered on the Euphrates, flowing from the north (top) to the south (bottom). The city of Babylon is shown on the Euphrates, in the northern half of the map. The mouth of the Euphrates is labelled "swamp" and "outflow". Susa, the capital of Elam, is shown to the south, Urartu to the northeast, and Habban, the capital of the Kassites is shown (incorrectly) to the northwest. Mesopotamia is surrounded by a circular "bitter river" or Ocean, and seven or eight "regions", depicted as triangular sections, are shown as lying beyond the Ocean. It has been suggested that the depiction of these "regions" as triangles might indicate that they were imagined as mountains.[2]

The tablet was excavated by Hormuzd Rassam at Sippar, Baghdad vilayet,[3] some 60 km north of Babylon on the east bank of the Euphrates River. It was acquired by the British Museum in 1882 (BM 92687);[3] the text was first translated in 1889.[4] The tablet is usually thought to have originated in Borsippa.[5] In 1995 a new join to the tablet was discovered, at the point of the upper-most nagu.[6]