Ishtar Gate, Babylon
October 2016 - As the Assyrians got weaker, pieces of their empire began to break off. People saw their chance to become independent and grabbed it. Egypt became independent again, and so did Israel for a while.
But then in the 600s BC a new empire started up, centered on the old Mesopotamian capital at Babylon. Under King Nebuchadnezzar (neh-buk-kad-NEZ-arr), the Babylonians reconquered most of the old Assyrian empire. The Babylonians conquered Israel, and took many of the Jewish leaders and their families back to Babylon with them to keep them from revolting again. People call this the Babylonian Captivity.
The Babylonians also did a lot of new building in Babylon during their time in power. But it didn't last very long. In 539 BC, the Persians, under their King Cyrus the Great, conquered Babylon and ended the Babylonian Empire.
Find Out About Mesopotamia: What Life Was Like in Ancient Sumer, Babylon and Assyria, by Lorna Oakes (2004).
The Babylonians: An Introduction, by Gwendolyn Leick (2002). Covers the whole history of the city of Babylon, from Hammurabi down to Alexander.
Babylon, by Joan Oates (1986).
Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture, by William H. Stiebing (2002). Expensive, and hard to read, but it's a good up to date account.