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Secrets of Ancient Babylon


What was ancient Babylon really like?


Although there is no doubt that the magnificent, larger-than-life city of Babylon once existed, two of its two most famous legends—the Tower of Babel and the fabled Hanging Gardens—are shrouded in controversy. According to the Book of Genesis, Babel was founded right after the Great Flood by King Nimrod. The city was supposedly the first one to be built by those who survived the great catastrophe. And in the spirit of human achievement and perseverance against all odds, its citizens—who all spoke a single language—decided to build a monument: a tower so immense that it would have its top in the heavens.


Regardless whether the Tower was an actual structure or merely alliteration, God held a differing view on this self-elevation of the human spirit. Genesis 11:4. Seeing what the people were doing, God confused their languages and scattered the people throughout the earth (Genesis 11:4). But the Bible makes no mention of the often-depicted destruction of the tower. The people whose languages are confounded simply stop what they are doing and are scattered from there over the face of the Earth.


Deemed one of the seven great wonders of the ancient world, the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon didn’t actually hang, but grew on the roofs and terraces of the royal palace. Tradition holds that Nebuchadnezzar II had the gardens built around 600 BCE as a consolation to his Median-born wife, who missed the lush, natural surroundings of her homeland.


A new Babylon rises from the sands of antiquity


In 1985, Saddam Hussein started rebuilding the city, restoring some existing sites and building new construction on top of the old ruins at others. To the dismay of archaeologists, he inscribed his name on many of the bricks. One frequent inscription reads: “This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq.” This practice is reminiscent of the famed Ziggurat at Ur, where each individual brick was stamped with: “Ur-Nammu, king of Ur, who built the temple of Nanna.” These bricks became sought after as collectors' items after the downfall of Hussein, and the ruins are no longer being restored to their original state.


When the Gulf War ended, Saddam wanted to build a modern palace in the pyramidal style of a Sumerian ziggurat. He named the lavish structure Saddam Hill.


An article published in April 2006 stated that UN officials and Iraqi leaders have big plans for restoring Babylon, making it a gem of a new Iraq as a cultural center complete with shopping malls, hotels, and perhaps a theme park. Perhaps Babylon will indeed rise up again from the sands of antiquity.


Here are some interesting links to Babylon, both ancient and new…


Ancient Babylon


Babylon on Wikipedia


Saddam's Babylonian palace


Photo tour of rebuilt sites in and around Babylon

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