Half the world seems to say the Bible is pure bunk, while the other half says it’s, well, the word of God. Now comes a professor who isn’t religious to say that a baked tablet from ancient Babylon gives evidence that the biblical tower of Babel was real. And his evidence is quite persuasive.
In linguistics, there is a theory that there was a single, original language spoken by humankind. The Bible’s book of Genesis, Chapter 11, hews to that line too, in the passage about the tower of Babel.
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar [Babylonia] and settled there.
The people decided to build a tower to the heavens to make a name for themselves and avoid being scattered around the world. But the Lord observed this tower’s construction and thought if his people could build this with one language, they could do anything. God decided to prevent them by scattering them around the world and imposing many languages on them.
Marten van Valckenborch the Elder – The Tower of Babel. (Public Domain)
No doubt the Bible story is quite different from the linguistic theory.
But as for the tower, Andrew George, a professor of Babylonia at the University of London, thinks he has found solid evidence for it in an ancient baked tablet from the city of Babylon.
In a video on Smithsonian.org, he details his theory, and it all sounds very plausible:
The baked clay tablet that Dr. George examined, discovered a century ago in Babylon (now modern-day Iraq) and now privately held, shows what the ziggurat looked like, with its seven steps. It shows the king with his conical hat and staff. And below is text that describes the commissioning of the tower’s construction.
“This is a very strong piece of evidence that the tower of Babel story was inspired by this real building,” Dr. George told Smithsonian. “At the top … there is a relief depicting a step tower and … a figure of a human being carrying a staff with a conical hat on. Below that relief is a text which has been chiseled into the monument, and the label is easily read. It reads:
Etemenanki, Ziggurat Babel.
“And that means ‘the Ziggurat or Temple Tower of the City of Babylon.’ The building and its builder on the same relief,” the professor says.
A reconstruction of the tower of Babel from a Smithsonian video screenshot
The text gives an account of the people enlisted to construct the tower, as translated by Dr. George:
From the Upper Sea [Mediterranean] to the Lower Sea [Persian Gulf] the Far-Flung Lands and Teeming Peoples of the Habitations I Mobilized In Order to Construct This Ziggurat of Babylon.
The Smithsonian video says this tablet gives further proof that the tower of Babel was an actual building.
“After Darwin cast a doubt on the story of a six-day creation, people began to ask what else in the Bible might not be true,” Dr. George told Breaking Israel News. “In the 19th century there was a discovery that the Assyrian kings described in the Bible were real and corroborated by archaeological evidence, making us ask now, how much more in the Bible is true?”
Experts had already thought King Nebuchadnezzar II actually did build a ziggurat in Babylonia after he established the city as his capital. The tablet provides more evidence.
The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563) (Public Domain)
The city of Babylon had been founded around 2300 BC about 80 miles south of present-day Baghdad. The Hittites sacked Babylon in 1595 BC, but Nebuchadnezzar began rebuilding the city in 612 BC, constructing the new edifice around an older tower.
Archaeologists think the tower of Babel was 300 feet along the sides and 300 feet tall. Only a fraction of the building remains, scattered and broken.
Top image: The baked tablet that had been deciphered by Dr George. It is finely carved with a relief showing the king and tower and chiseled with text saying how people were gathered from all over to construct the ziggurat. (Smithsonian screenshot)
By Mark Miller