Imagine if someone living during the time of Babylon's heyday was told that the city would one day be deserted and buried in tons of sand.
In modern times, the once magnificent city of Babylon has become the site for many archeological digs. The once proud city was covered by tons of drifting sand, making the work for these archeologists all the more difficult. The current political climate in Iraq has added to this difficulty. In 2009, the site was open to tourists, but very few have ventured in to the area. An oil pipe line now runs through the ruins of the city.
The city really grew in to prominence during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. Thousands of bricks have been discovered bearing his name, and point to the massive building projects undertaken during his reign. Most historians conclude the city was at one time the largest city in the world. Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian wrote, “The center of the city, which is full of three and four story buildings, is traversed by dead straight streets not only those that run parallel to the river, but also the cross streets which lead down to the water side.” When the Jews were brought as captives to the city, I bet they marveled at these wide, straight streets, and couldn’t help but think of the narrow, twisting alley ways of Jerusalem.
Babylon was at the crossroads of commerce, but it was also a religious center for the polytheism of the region. An ancient inscription reads, “altogether there are in Babylon 53 temples of the chief gods, 55 chapels to Marduk, 300 chapels for the earthly deities, 600 for the heavenly deities, 180 altars for the goddess Ishtar, 180 for the gods Nergal and Adad and 12 other altars for different gods.” German archeologists discovered the remains of the temple of Marduk which Nebuchadnezzar had rebuilt. This complex alone measured 1500 feet by 1800 feet, and included an amazing tower.
The city was surrounded by double walls, with amazing gates located at strategic locations. Maybe the most famous of these gates was the Ishtar Gate. A reconstruction of this gate can be found in a museum in Germany. The splendor of the city can be read in the writings of many ancient writers.
I hope this wasn’t too boring. As a former history teacher, these places fascinate me, but I realize not everyone is quite as thrilled. Imagine if someone living during the time of Babylon’s heyday was told the city would one day be deserted and buried under the sand. Would anyone think that was even a remote possibility? I wonder if these Babylonians had ever heard of a prophet named Isaiah who wrote hundreds of years prior, “Babylon, the jewel of the kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited or lived in through the generations; no Arab will pitch a tent there, no shepherd will rest his flocks there. But dessert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. Hyenas will howl in her strongholds, jackals in her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged.” (Isaiah 13: 19-22)
About The Author
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.