Israel and Judah were related Iron Age kingdoms of the ancient Levant. The Kingdom of Israel emerged as an important local power by the 9th century BCE before falling to the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 722 BCE. Israel's southern neighbor, the Kingdom of Judah, emerged in the 8th century and enjoyed a period of prosperity. Following the fall of Babylon to the Persian King Cyrus the Great, some Judean exiles returned to Jerusalem, inaugurating the formative period in the development of a distinctive Judahite identity in the Persian province of Yehud. Yehud was absorbed into the subsequent Hellenistic kingdoms that followed the conquests of Alexander the Great, but in the 2nd century BCE the Judaeans revolted against the Hellenist Seleucid Empire and created the Hasmonean kingdom.