Published On: Sat, Apr 13th, 2024

Inside ‘unusual construction material’ found at site of Babylon | World | News


The Tower of Babel is one of the world’s biggest mysteries: did it exist? Or was it simply a moral tool?

It is perhaps one of the Bible’s more mysterious stories, found in Genesis 11:1-9 where the tower is said to have been built in Shinar — Babylonia — after the great flood.

For decades, excavations around the region of ancient Babylon have taken place in the hope of finding even a morsel of evidence for the tower’s structure.

When war arrived in Iraq, much of the archaeological record and work was lost, and so too was any hope of finding the tower — until now.

Some archaeologists recently working in the country say they have found some “unusual construction material” on a brick believed to have once been part of the Tower of Babel.

The brick, studied by Dr Irving Finkel of the British Museum, is said to have been commissioned by King Nebuchadnezzar II, believed to be the man responsible for the tower.

Nebuchadnezzar attempted to conquer the known world in 586 BC when he seized and sacked the city of Jerusalem. Scouting out its most skilled workers, he took them back to Babylon as slaves.

The journey and the “unusual material” found both were explored during the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary, ‘Secrets Unlocked: Tower of Babel’.

“When you look at the early chapters of the Bible, it is clear that some of it is drawn from the Judeans’ own records, and some of it incorporates narratives which they must have encountered for the first time in Babylon, which were so powerful and striking that the authors, the philosophers who worked on the Hebrew texts, incorporated them to tell their own story,” said Dr Finkel.

The documentary’s narrator added: “There’s a compelling clue in the story that backs up a theory that Jewish slaves witnessed the tower being built during their time in captivity.”

On the brick found in Iraq, the narrator continued: “It carries traces of an unusual construction material from the time: bitumen, an ancient tar, and mortar that’s specifically mentioned in the biblical tale.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s name is etched across the brick in small letters: it is his stamp of approval and suggests it was specifically commissioned by him.

The edge of the brick was covered in a dusty black substance known as bitumen — a material that was used during Biblical times.

As Dr Finkel explained: “In the book of Genesis it literally says that they use brick for stone and bitumen for mortar; it’s expressly said there.

“What we have here is one brick and its bitumen which fits exactly into that special context.

“There can be no doubt that the stimulus for the story and the narrative must have taken shape during the Babylonian exile.”

The brick, then, may well help researchers to link together the story of the Tower of Babel and Babylon.



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