Uruk was one of the first major cities in the history of the world. It reached its peak around 2900 BC when it had an estimated population of nearly 80,000 people making it the largest city in the world.
Uruk was located in southern Mesopotamia along the banks of the Euphrates River. It was the center of the Sumerian civilization. It was able to grow so large because of advanced farming and irrigation techniques. The abundance of food made the city rich.
The most famous king of Uruk was Gilgamesh. He was later turned into a mythical hero through the tales of his exploits and superhuman strength in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
The city of Akkad was the center of the world's first empire, the Akkadian Empire. The people of Akkad, under the leadership of Sargon the Great, conquered many of the Sumerian city-states and took control of Mesopotamia. The Akkadian language took the place of Sumerian and continued to be the primary language of the region into the Babylonian and Assyrian Empires.
Archeologists still haven't found the city of Akkad and are unsure where it is located. It was likely located in southern Mesopotamia just east of the Tigris River.
Located in northern Mesopotamia on the western bank of the river Tigris, Assur became the first capital city of the Assyrian Empire. Although other cities would later take over as capital of the Assyrian Empire, Assur was always recognized as the religious center of the empire.
Assur was named after the primary god of the Assyrians. The city and the god are sometimes called Ashur.
Babylon was the capital city and center of the Babylonian Empire. During its peak, Babylon was the largest city in the world with populations exceeding 200,000 people. It was home to kings such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar as well as the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon which are one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Babylon is located in central Mesopotamia along the banks of the Euphrates River. Today the ruins of the city can be found around 50 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq. Babylon is mentioned several times in the Bible.
Nimrud became the capital city of the Assyrian Empire in the 13th Century BC. Although the city later fell into ruins, the great King Ashurnasirpal II rebuilt the city and made it the Assyrian capital once again in 880 BC.
Nimrud was home to some of the most magnificent palaces built in ancient history. The palace of Shalmaneser III covered over 12 acres and had more than 200 rooms.
The greatest city of the Assyrian Empire was Nineveh. It became the largest city in the world at the height of the Assyrian Empire. The city was largely built under the rule of King Sennacherib around 700 BC. The great walls of Nineveh enclosed an area of 7 square kilometers and had 15 gates. There were 18 canals that brought water to different areas of the city.
Nineveh was home to King Ashurbanipal, the last great king of the Assyrian Empire. Under his rule a great library was built that housed over 20,000 clay tablets. Much of what we know about Mesopotamia is from these tablets.
Nineveh is also famous from the story of Jonah and the Whale from the Bible. In the story, God tells Jonah to travel to Nineveh, but Jonah refuses. Jonah then tries to run from God, but is swallowed by a great fish and spit out on the shore. Jonah then travels to Nineveh in obedience to God.
Persepolis was the capital of the Persian Empire. The name is actually Greek for "Persian city". The city was originally built by Cyrus the Great around 515 BC. Other kings such as Darius I and Xerxes completed the palace and other buildings. The city was located in southeast Iran.
Much of the city is currently being reconstructed by archeologists. Some of the structures include the Gate of Nations, the Throne Hall, and the Apadana Palace.