Shortly after the flood, the Bible says the people gathered in the Mesopotamia valley and started building a large tower to heaven.
4 They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4 NASV)
Called the Tower of Babel, the Bible relates how God stopped its construction by creating different languages among this group forcing them apart and eventually causing them to scatter around the world:
7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. (Genesis 11: 7-8 NASV).
Though many have called this account a myth, Dr. Andrew George, a professor at the University of London who specializes in Babylonian history, recently translated an ancient stone tablet held by a private Norwegian collector, Martin Schøyen.
The tablet discovered early last century refers to what many believe was the original Tower of Babel described in the Biblical text.
The text describes an ancient ziggurat (platformed pyramid) built by King Nebuchadnezzar II who ruled Babylon between 605 – 562 BC.
The tablet portrays Nebuchadnezzar standing beside a seven platform ziggurat believed to be 300 feet tall, standing on a square base of equal size (300’ by 300’).
According to Breaking Israel News, the tablet describes how Nebuchadnezzar brought in people of all languages to build this massive tower:
“Etemenanki: Zikkurate 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 in prominence over all the 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 tops to the heaven, making it gleam bright as the sun.”
But what is equally interesting is that Nebuchadnezzar was restoring a much older tower that was in a state of disrepair.
It is difficult to date the original tower, but it was built shortly after people began settling in the area around 2300 BC and probably no later than the reign of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC).
Curiously, Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656), who did an extensive study dating Biblical events based on genealogies believed the ancients built the Tower of Babel in 2240 BC.
He based that on Genesis 10:25, which says the earth divided during Peleg’s life time:
25 Two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan. (Genesis 10:25 NASV)
Some believe the word divided refers to the division of the world by languages. Though this is not conclusive, the tower was built a few generations after the flood and shows that the Biblical dating falls within the dating of the tower discovered on the tablet.
Also, the Hebrew word for tower “migdal” used to describe Babel means a pyramid bed of flowers. This suggests the people of Babel were building a layered, ziggurat tower.
When the people groups scattered around the world, they still had memory of the Tower of Babel and its construction style. In Egypt and as far away as Mexico, they mimicked Babel’s ziggurat-styled construction when building their temples.
With people divided by language, several new nations suddenly appeared — Greece (2089 BC), Egypt (2188 BC) and Babylon (2234 BC) — all springing up after the Tower of Babel.
- Compelling new evidence may prove the Tower of Babel really existed: aleteia.org
- Was the dispersion at Babel a real event?: Answers in Genesis
- Ancient Babylonian tablet may depict first-ever image of Biblical Tower of Babel: Breaking Israel News