Wednesday, May 15, 2013

History Mystery: Babylon the city of Nebuchadnezzar -2

Then, in 625 BC, its governor, Nabopolassar, proclaimed Babylon independent and himself king. By making an alliance with the Medes (from Iran) Nabopolassar defeated Assyria in 612 BC and destroyed its capital, Nineveh. When Nabopolassar’s son Nebuchadnezzar mounted the throne in 605 BC, the entire area known as the Fertile Crescent – from Jerusalem to the Persian Gulf – was his. All he had to do was to eradicate the last pockets of Assyrian resistance and to restore Babylon as a capital worthy of his ambitions. Under Nebuchadnezzar, the city re-emerged as the queen of the civilized world, built along both banks of the Euphrates, with the main buildings on the east bank. A double exterior wall, 18 km (11 miles) long, enclosed an area that was barely inhabited and may have served as a refuge for villagers and their herds in time of war. This outer line of defense was reinforced to the north by the fortress of Babil, which still stands 22m (72 ft) high; it once contained the summer palace of the king. An inner wall, the shape of a quadrangle and surrounded by a canal, protected the main part of the town. This brick rampart consisted of a front wall 6.5m (21 ft) wide, and a second wall more than 3m (10 ft) wide, between which was built a third wall. Each of the city’s eight gateways was under the protection of a different god. The main palace and the main gate – dedicated to Ishtar, the goddess of lo9ve and battle – were also protected by a fortress.

A sacred processional way skirted the fortress and passed through the Ishtar Gate before entering the city. Here, it ran alongside a double wall which defended the royal palace, making it an impregnable citadel right in the heart of Babylon. The construction of the palace was begun by Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar’s father. His living quarters consisted of two large halls and three private rooms, opening onto a courtyard. Nebuchadnezzar kept the palace but enlarged it. To do this he merely added to it four identical ‘palace units’. These complexes stood side by side and were connected by passages. In one of the enormous hall: the throne room. Outside the palace, the processional way continued as for as the Temple of Marduk, patron god of Babylon.

The temple was a square fortress with a central courtyard. In line with its entrance, a door opened into the sanctuary of Marduk. His golden statue was small and light enough to be carried during processions such as the one held at the New Year. Another room in the temple was reserved for Marduk’s throne; another housed the bed intended for the symbolic weddings of the gods; and some rooms were dedicated to lesser gods - for, like any earthly king, Marduk had his court. Alongside the temple, and isolated within a high well, was an immense tower, or ziggurat. It had been built hundreds of years before the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, but had fallen into disrepair. The king ordered in to be rebuilt so that its top ‘might rival heaven’. Nebuchadnezzar’s tower of sun-dried brick rested on a square base and rose like a pyramid some 90m (295 ft) above the city. Its seven stories were crowned with a temple. According to the historian Diodorus of Sicily, in the 1st century BC the tower was an observatory for Chaldaean astrologers from southern Mesopotamia. Herodotus thought it was used for sacred fertility rites. He reported that there was a bed and gold table on the top storey of the tower, but no statue of a god. ‘Only a woman chosen by the god would spend the night alone there,’ he wrote, adding that ‘sometimes the god came into the temple and slept in the bed.’ The French archaeologist Andre Parrot linked the name of Babylon – literally ‘gateway of the god’ – with Jacob’s vision in the Book of Genesis. As Jacob dreamed, he saw a ladder with reached from the earth up to heaven’s gate. Parrot suggested that the Babylonians, too, saw the tower, with its monumental staircase, as a ‘gateway of the heavens’ and as a resting-place between the heavenly home of the god and his earthly residence in the temple.

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  1. this just took me back to that era.. lovely post and the info given were neat!...


  2. very amazing i was not. expected this thanks to author and good job keep it up by one of your fan


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