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Stone Tablet May Be Proof That Tower of Babel Was Real

As an Assyriologist, I don’t deal in the Bible, and I am not a religious person, but in this case, I can say there is an actual building which does seem to be the inspiration for the Biblical narrative.

Assyriologist Dr. Andrew George, a professor of Babylonian at the University of London, is referring to a sixth-century BCE stone tablet with a carving of a ziggurat – a terraced step pyramid common in Mesopotamia. The ziggurat is flanked by a figure identified as King Nebuchadnezzar II and an inscription that reads, “Tower of Temple of Babylon.” The 2.600-year-old tablet was discovered a century ago. What took so long to connect these seemingly obvious dots?

For those not up on biblical or Babylonian history, Genesis 11:4 says, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the Earth.” It then explains that God didn’t approve, confused the languages and scattered the people building the tower, which is then called Babel, possibly from the Hebrew word balal, which means to jumble or confuse. Archeologists have attempted to link the biblical Tower of Babel to real structures – such as Etemenanki, a ziggurat dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Marduk by Nabopolassar, king of Babylonia – but they’ve never had any conclusive proof.

The Tower of Babel Stele (from the Schøyen Collection)

Until now. According to Dr. George, the tablet, discovered a century ago in the Babylonian area of Iraq, is currently in the private collection of Norwegian businessman Martin Schøyen and has never been available for close study until recently. In an upcoming series produced by the Smithsonian, George dates the baked clay tablet to around 600 BCE and illustrates how the faint carvings show the seven tiers of a giant ziggurat. He also shows how the outline next to it is a giant depiction of King Nebuchadnezzar II, who reigned from around 605-562 BCE.

But the key is the faint text carving, which Dr. George translates as:

NEBUCHADNEZZAR, KING OF BABYLON AM I – IN ORDER TO COMPLETE E-TEMEN-ANKI AND E-UR-ME-IMIN-ANKI I MOBILIZED ALL COUNTRIES EVERYWHERE, EACH AND EVERY RULER WHO HAD BEEN RAISED TO PROMINENCE OVER ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD – LOVED BY MARDUK, FROM THE UPPER SEA TO THE LOWER SEA, THE DISTANT NATIONS, THE TEEMING PEOPLE OF THE WORLD, KINGS OF REMOTE MOUNTAINS AND FAR-FLUNG ISLANDS – THE BASE I FILLED IN TO MAKE A HIGH TERRACE. I BUILT THEIR STRUCTURES WITH BITUMEN AND BAKED BRICK THROUGHOUT. I COMPLETED IT RAISING ITS TOP TO THE HEAVEN, MAKING IT GLEAM BRIGHT AS THE SUN

Painting of the Tower of Babel by Marten van Valckenborch the Elder, Flemish Renaissance painter

So what about the babbling and the collapse of the tower? In an interview with Breaking Israel News, George theorizes that the multitudes of languages referred to in the story of the tower may refer to the fact that a monument of that magnitude needed many workers from many countries.

The myth about the multitude of tongues comes from the context described in the stele about the multitude of peoples enlisted in the construction of the tower. There were many languages spoken on the construction site. From that it may be that the Bible got the idea of the confusion of tongues.

That ‘confusion of tongues’ may have also had led to construction problems which caused the project to take 43 years. That may also be why the tower didn’t withstand the test of time and is now most likely the rubble that is at the Etemenanki site.

Good evidence that the Tower of Babel existed and is depicted on a stone tablet? Yes. Undeniable? Not yet. A lesson for construction bosses on big projects? Definitely … always carry a translation app.

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  • Jossik46

    “Far from its being a hotbed of sin, he argues that the city’s blackened reputation was bestowed upon it in the Old Testament, in response to Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Jerusalem and destruction of the city’s temple in 586 BC, when many of the inhabitants, including the King of Judah, were deported to Babylon. ‘ Nebuchadnezzar was seen as the wickedest person in the world,’ says Finkel, ‘but in reality he was a very successful king. His reign was lengthy and stable, and there was no internal strife. The truth is far different from say, the mad old Nebuchadnezzar painted by William Blake.’
    It was during Nebuchadnezzar’s long rule, from 605-562 BC, that Babylon became the greatest city of the ancient world. Although he is credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon – which he is said to have built to cheer up his wife, Amyitis, who was homesick for her mountain homeland of Media – in truth, archaeologists have not been able to find any conclusive evidence for them. But he did complete the reconstruction of the imperial grounds, construct the spectacular Ishtar Gate and, most famously of all, rebuild the Tower of Babel – built some 1,300 years earlier, but destroyed by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 689 – to a height of 300ft.

    Though the Tower of Babel was razed to the ground, the so-called dramatic ‘fall of Babylon’ never actually occurred. The historical truth about its decline is far more poignant. After being conquered by Persian emperor Cyrus in 539 BC, it continued to exist as one of the capitals of his empire. Later, Alexander the Great chose Babylon as his capital, and once again it became a centre of learning and commerce. He intended to make it the centre of his world empire and would have extended the tower even further, but he died of a fever in the city in 323 BC before he could realise his ambition.
    Alexander’s vast empire was divided up by his four chief generals, and he was succeeded in Babylon by one of them, Seleucos, who promptly decided to move the capital from the ancient city and build himself a new one named Seleucia, 40 miles away. ‘No one knows for sure why he moved the city,’ says Finkel. ‘It may be that he wanted to make a clean break with the past. But he took the government, the army and the religious institutions with him.’ It was the beginning of the end. Once money stopped pouring into the city, it soon began to decay. By 141 BC, Babylon was desolate.

    About Babylon: http://www.ancient.eu/babylon/
    “Outside of the sinful reputation given it by the Bible, the city is known for its impressive walls and buildings, its reputation as a great seat of learning and culture, the formation of a code of law which pre-dates the Mosaic Law….”
    “Every ancient writer to make mention of the city of Babylon, outside of those responsible for the stories in the Bible, does so with a tone of awe and reverence.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1080243/It-powerful-affluent-sinful–fell-trace-No-financial-city-ancient-civilisation-Babylon.html