Chalde’a, more correctly Chaldæ’a, the ancient name of a country of Asia bordering on the Persian Gulf. Chaldea proper was the southern part of Babylonia, and is used in Scripture to signify that vast alluvial plain which has been formed by the deposits of the Euphrates and the Tigris. This extraordinary flat, unbroken except by the works of man, extends a distance of 400 miles along the course of the rivers, and is on an average about 100 miles in width. In addition to natural advantages these plains were nourished by a complicated system of canals, and vegetation flourished bountifully. It is said to be the only country in the world where wheat grows wild. Herodotus declared (i. 193) that grain commonly returned two hundred fold to the sower, and occasionally three hundred fold.
Cities.—Babylonia has long been celebrated for the number and antiquity of its cities. The most important of those which have been identified are Borsippa (Birs-Nimrûd), Sippara or Sepharvaim (Mosaib), Cutha (Ibrahim), Calneh (Niffer), Erech (Warka), Ur (Mugheir), Chilmad (Kalwadha), Larancha (Senkerch), Is (Hit), Duraba (Akkerkuf); but besides these there were a multitude of others, the sites of which have not been determined.
Ruins of Mugheir (probable site of Ur of the Chaldees).
Present condition.—This land, once so rich in corn and wine, is to-day but a mass of mounds, “an arid waste; the dense population of former times is vanished, and no man dwells there.” The Hebrew prophets applied the term “land of the Chaldeans” to all Babylonia and “Chaldeans” to all the subjects of the Babylonian empire.