In explaining the content of an inscription known as “Cuneiform Royal Inscriptions and Related Texts in the Schøyen Collection,” Owen Jarus comments, “In the inscription, Nebuchadnezzar talks about how he got people from all over the world to build the Marduk tower and a second ziggurat at Borsippa.”1)Owen Jarus, “Ancient Text tells Tales of War, Bar Tabs,” Dec. 16, 2011; http://www.livescience.com/17522-ancient-texts-tales-war-bar-tabs.html This is the oldest known image of a ziggurat, with the full text stating:
ETEMENANKI: ZIKKURAT BABIBLI:
“THE HOUSE, THE FOUNDATION OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, ZIGGURAT IN BABYLON”.
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 – 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 SUN2)Trans. professor Andrew George, Detail of the Tower of Babel stele, with the engraving of King Nebuchadnezzar II. (Copyright The Schøyen Collection, MS 2063) accessible at http://www.schoyencollection.com/history-collection-introduction/babylonian-history-collection/tower-babel-stele-ms-2063
This engraving of King Nebuchadnezzar II can be found in the world’s largest private collection of ancient artifact, known as The Schøyen Collection, (MS 2063). The official website of The Schøyen Collection comments:
Until now our knowledge of the Tower of Babel has been based on the account in Genesis 11:1-9, and of Herodotus: The Histories I:178 – 182, with the measurement of the first 2 stages, and a Seleucid tablet of 229 BC (Louvre AO 6555), giving the sizes of the stages. However, no contemporary illustrations have been known, resulting in a long series of fanciful paintings throughout the art history until present. Here we have for the first time an illustration contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar II’s restoring and enlargement of the Tower of Babel, and with a caption making the identity absolutely sure. We also have the building plans, as well as a short account of the reconstruction process.3)http://www.schoyencollection.com/history-collection-introduction/babylonian-history-collection/tower-babel-stele-ms-2063
The Seleucid tablet mentioned describes the temple with complex mathematical calculations as seen in the following excerpt:
Measurements of the base of the etemenanki: here are the length and width to be considered: 3×60 is the length, 3×60 is the width, measured in standard cubits (1 elbow length = about 50 cm). Its dimensions are therefore: 3×3=9 ; 9×2=18. If you do not know the value of 18, here it is: 3 measures of seed, surface area measured with the small cubit. Base of the etemenanki: the height is equal to the length and width. Let the initiate show this to the initiate. Let the non-initiate not see it. Tablet written, traced and collated, after a copy made at Borsippa… Uruk, month of Kislimu, 26th day (12 December 229 BC.). Year 83 : Seleucus (He was) roi.4)The “Esagila” Tablet; http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/esagila-tablet
Again we see it was to be duplicated at Borsippa. Explaining this text more simply:
The text, copied from an earlier document, describes the temple of the god Marduk in Babylon as reconstructed by the kings of the Babylonian dynasty of Nabopolassar (625-605 BC) and Nebuchadrezzar II (605-562 BC). This temple was called Esagila, “the temple that raises its head”. The text first gives a double description of the base of the multi-tiered tower built inside the city walls or ziggurat, then describes the main temple, and, finally, gives the measurements of the multi-tiered tower, called Etemenanki, “House of the Foundation of Heaven and Earth” – the “Tower of Bable” in the Bible (Genesis 11, 1-9). This tower seems to have had seven stories, built in the form of terraces, and was surmounted by a temple. German excavations have confirmed the dimensions of the square base: over 91 m along each side. They have also shown that three large stairways, resting on the south facade, provided access to the first story, higher than the others, and to the second story. Smaller staircases led to the top, probably situated at a height of 90 meters.5)http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/esagila-tablet
We also have two ancient sources that wrote about this temple in Babylon. Herodotus (484-425 B.C.) gives us a firsthand description the temple which once stood in Babylon:
In the middle of one division of the city stands the royal palace, surrounded by a high and strong wall; and in the middle of the other is still to this day the sacred enclosure of Zeus Belus, a square of four hundred and forty yards each way, with gates of bronze. In the center of this sacred enclosure a solid tower has been built, two hundred and twenty yards long and broad; a second tower rises from this and from it yet another, until at last there are eight. The way up them mounts spirally outside the height of the towers; about halfway up is a resting place, with seats for repose, where those who ascend sit down and rest. In the last tower there is a great shrine; and in it stands a great and well-covered couch, and a golden table nearby. But no image has been set up in the shrine, nor does any human creature lie there for the night, except one native woman, chosen from all women by the god, as the Chaldaeans say, who are priests of this god.6)Herodotus, The Histories, (1:181) translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920. Accessible at http://herodotushistories.com/herodotus-book-1/
Diordorus Siculus, wrote his Library of History between 60-30 B.C., acknowledges what historians before him said about this temple, which he admits is often contradicting accounts due to the temple having been built, destroyed, and rebuilt, many times over.
After this she [Semiramis] built in the centre of the city a temple of Zeus whom, as we have said, the Babylonians call Belus. Now since with regard to this temple the historians are at variance, and since time has caused the structure to fall into ruins, it is impossible to give the exact facts concerning it. But all agree that it was exceedingly high, and that in it the Chaldaeans made their observations of the stars, whose risings and settings could be accurately observed by reason of the height of the structure. Now the entire building was ingeniously constructed at great expense of bitumen and brick, and at the top of the ascent Semiramis set up three statues of hammered gold, of Zeus, Hera, and Rhea. Of these statues that of Zeus represented him erect and striding forward, and, being forty feet high, weighed a thousand Babylonian talents; that of Rhea showed her seated on a golden throne and was of the same weight as that of Zeus; and at her knees stood two lions, while near by were huge serpents of silver, each one weighing thirty talents. The statue of Hera was also standing, weighing eight hundred talents, and in her right hand she held a snake by the head and in her left a sceptre studded with precious stones. A table for all three statues made of hammered gold, stood before them, forty feet long, fifteen wide, and weighing five hundred talents. Upon it rested two drinking-cups, weighing thirty talents. And there were censers as well, also two in number but weighing each three hundred talents, and also three gold mixing bowls, of which the one belonging to Zeus weighed twelve hundred Babylonian talents and the other two six hundred each. But all these were later carried off as spoil by the kings of the Persians, while as for the palaces and the other buildings, time has either entirely effaced them or left them in ruins; and in fact of Babylon itself but a small part is inhabited at this time, and most of the area within its walls is given over to agriculture.7)Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, Book II. 9; published in Vol. I
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1933, pp. 382-383; accessible at http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Diodorus_Siculus/2A*.html
Queen Semiramis spoken of in this text is claimed to be a myth by Wikipedia,8)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiramis falsely attributed as Nimrods wife as a fallacious attack against Christmas by Herbert Armstrong and others,9)http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/770/Semiramis.htm but accurately identified by secular historian William Durant as, “Summuramat [who] ruled as queen-mother for three years [811-808], and provided a frail historical basis (for this is all that we know of her) for the Greek legend of Semiramis—half goddess and half queen, great general, great engineer and great statesman—so attractively detailed by Diodorus the Sicilian”10)William Durant, The Story of Civilization: Part 1, Our Oriental Heritage, Simon and Schuster (New York: NY 1954), Vol. 1, p. 267 This Assyrian queen was only rebuilding that which had once already been there.
The first ziggurat [actually the Tower of Babel was the first] at Babylon was built by Shar-kali-sharri, king of Akkad in the latter part of the 23rd century B.C. Archaeologists understand that this ziggurat was destroyed and rebuilt several times across the centuries. It apparently lay in ruins from sometime around 2000 B.C. to around 1830 B.C., at which time a forbearer of Hammurabi (1728-1636 B.C.) founded or rebuilt the city named Bab-ilu, or Babel.11)Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, editors, Tyndale Bible Dictionary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), S. 137
The Shcoyen Collection website expresses the view of secular archaeologists:
The ziggurat in Babylon was originally built around the time of Hammurabi 1792-1750 BC. The restoration and enlargement began under Nabopolassar, and was finished after 43 years of work under Nebuchadnezzar II, 604-562 BC. It has been calculated that at least 17 million bricks had to be made and fired. Babylon with the ziggurat was captured by Kyros 538 BC, Dareios I 519 BC, Xerxes ca. 483 BC, and entirely destroyed by Alexander I the Great 331 BC. It is this tall stepped temple tower which is referred to in Genesis 11:1-9, and became known as “The Tower of Babel”. The bricks are specifically mentioned in Genesis 11:3: “Come, let us make bricks and bake them in the fire. – For stone they used bricks and for mortar they used bitumen”. The black bitumen is still visible on the back of the present baked brick.12)http://www.schoyencollection.com/pre-gutenberg-printing/21-1-blind-on-clay-gold/ms-1815-1-tower-babel-brick
One of these bricks obtained by the Schoyen Collection bears the inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, which states, “TOWER OF BABEL BRICK NEBUCHADNEZZAR, KING OF BABYLON, GUARDIAN OF THE TEMPLES ESAGILA AND EZIDA, FIRSTBORN SON OF NABOPOLASSAR, KING OF BABYLON”13)Tower of Babel Brick – MS 1815/1; http://www.schoyencollection.com/pre-gutenberg-printing/21-1-blind-on-clay-gold/ms-1815-1-tower-babel-brick