The setting of the city within the environment of Mesopotamia, on a branch of the river Euphrates, was without special advantages amid more ancient cities with older fame. Sumerian and Semitic Akkadian were very different languages integrated into the urbanized written culture, whereas Amorite immigrants from the west were tribal outsiders who often assimilated in the cities. Water management by canals, sluices, and flood control, and the extension of land for agriculture and settlement were duties of kings reflected in early myths. Merchants travelled abroad, west to the Mediterranean, north into Anatolia, east across the river Tigris into Iran, where they encountered the rival civilization of Elam, and south down the Arabian Gulf. They brought in precious metals, stones, timber, and plants. After 1,300 years, Babylon became a ceremonial centre without indigenous kings, but foreign kings still came to have their claim to rule legitimized in a city where the bearing of arms was prohibited. King-lists and chronicles underpinned Babylonians’ understanding of their own history; prayers, songs, epics, technical manuals, rituals, records of divination, and astronomy as well as archival and administrative texts were written on various media, of which only clay, being inorganic, survives. Temples, a palace, a harbour, city walls, and gates characterized urban space.