Although the site was settled in prehistoric times, Babylon is first mentioned in
documents only in the late 3rd millennium BC. About 2200 BC it was known as the
site of a temple, and during the 21st century BC it was subject to the nearby
city of Ur. Babylon became an independent city-state by 1894 BC, when the Amorite
Sumu-abum founded a dynasty there. This dynasty reached its high point under Hammurabi.
In 1595 BC the city was captured by Hittites, and shortly thereafter it came under
the control of the Kassite dynasty (circa 1590-1155 BC). The Kassites transformed
Babylon the city-state into the country of Babylonia by bringing all of southern
Mesopotamia into permanent subjection and making Babylon its capital. The city thus
became the administrative center of a large kingdom. Later, probably in the 12th
century BC, it became the religious center as well, when its principal god, Marduk,
was elevated to the head of the Mesopotamian pantheon.
After the Kassite dynasty collapsed under pressure from the Elamites to the east,
Babylon was governed by several short-lived dynasties. From the late 8th century
BC until Nabopolassar, between 626 and 615 BC expelled the Assyrians, the city was
part of the Assyrian Empire.