Babel Tower

Babel Tower. (In Hebrew: מגדל בבל Migdal Bavel; in ancient Greek Πύργος τῆς Βαβέλ, Pirgos tēs Babél). It is usually a recurring element in many sayings and stories. Its origins are found in an episode recounted at the beginning of the book of Genesis in the Bible , following the accounts of the creation of the world. According to some interpretations of chapter 11 of Genesis, the men intended, with the construction of this tower, to reach Heaven .


[ hide ]

  • 1 History
  • 2 Archaeological evidence
  • 3 Evidence of ancient texts
  • 4 Construction
  • 5 Sources


From its mention in the Old Testament , the Tower of Babel acquires a dimension greater than its lavish architectural value. It becomes a symbol of the confusion that invades man when he cannot communicate with his fellow men, because each one uses his own language. This initially chaotic situation was (according to the biblical account) deliberately caused by God , to punish the limitless pride of human beings who tried to touch the sky with their hands.

“The whole world was of the same language and identical words. As humanity moved from the East they found a fertile plain in the country of Senaar and there they settled (…) Then they said: << We are going to build a city and a tower with the top in the heavens (…) >> And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the children of Adam built and said: -Behold, the people are one and all have the same language; and they have raised this factory, and they will not give up on their ideas until they are carried out. Let us therefore go down to confuse their language so that one does not understand the other.

And this fate the Lord scattered them from that place throughout all the lands, and they ceased building the city. From where the name of Babel was given, because the language of the whole earth was confused there … “(Genesis XI, 1 to 9). To try to unravel the mystery generated around the Babylonian tower, we must start from the assertion of its existence. Without a doubt it was a concrete monument. It gained great importance to the point of integrating into the folklore of the peoples, as a response to the concern about the use of so many languages. Etymologically the name “Babel” comes from two roots The Babylonian “Bab-ilu” (gate of God) and the Hebrew “balal” (confusion), both perfectly acceptable within their contextual value.

The famous and always sought-after tower rose in the city of Babylon , south of Baghdad , in the middle course of the Euphrates River . There, in the region called Mesopotamia (country of Senaar), it developed over 26 centuries ( 2900 BC / 330 BC), a civilization that knew times of great prosperity and wisdom, decisive for the development of the populations of the Near East .

The Sumerian people are considered the civilizing element of this region. Tradition says that the Sumerians came from the east. According to archaeological studies it is stated that they constitute a branch of the Indo-European race. It seems that his native country was mountainous. This is plausible and is inferred from the fact that their gods are always represented standing on a mountain. The Sumerians worshiped them in high places.

When they migrated to the Euphrates valley, they found no natural elevations suitable for religious worship. Everything was flat. Hence their fondness for elevated constructions, as they believed that the higher they went, the closer they were to God. Thus they called these buildings for religious purposes “ziggurats” (hill of heaven or mountain of God). They were staggered pyramid towers with a sanctuary on the terrace and oriented towards the four cardinal points by their angles. They served as temples and observatories at the same time. In every major city there was at least one such tower. Babylon’s first ziggurat was built by Hamurabi ( 1792 – 1750 BC), the sixth king of the Semitic dynasty. Dominated all of Mesopotamiaand under its reign Babylon lived a great cultural flourishing. Initially, Hamurabi himself promulgated a legal code that inspired the famous Hebrew talion law: “An eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth.”

One of the most fabulous descriptions of the city of Babylon is that of the Greek historian Herodotus: “It surpasses in splendor any city in the known world,” Herodotus wrote around 460 BC. But it is not the city of Hamurabi before which he is astonished. It is the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar II, who gave this legendary city its greatest magnificence within the Babylonian empire, in 604BC The largest temple in Babylon was the Esagil, dedicated to “Marduk”, the main deity of the city. With its outbuildings, it formed a ring measuring 550 m by 450 m. The Esagil (high-top house) was accessed through the “Calle de las Procesiones”, a 19-meter wide avenue paved with white limestone tiles and red breccia.

Near the temple stood the 90-meter-high ziggurat, called “Etemenanki” (house of the foundation of heaven and earth), renamed by the Hebrews as the Tower of Babel. Beyond the allusion to the material fact of union of heaven and earth by means of the ziggurat, there is a spiritual union between the two organized parts of the world, according to the belief of the time.

Archaeological evidence

Thanks to descriptions collected in ancient texts, a delineation of its architecture can be made. Herodotus described it as the size of a stadium, at its bottom. On top of this, seven terraces are superimposed, which are accessed by an external spiral path. It should be remembered that what the Greek philosopher saw is not the original building, which had been previously destroyed by order of Jerges ( 479 BC), but the remodeled construction as it suffered deterioration due to the different wars and invasions. During the excavations carried out in 1899 – 1917 , by a German expedition, led by the architect Robert Koldewey, the lower floors of the tower were found. The Esagil table shows its dimensions.

This document says that the base measured a little more than 89 meters (archaeologists measured 91.50 meters); that the height, width, and length were the same; the terraces, of unequal dimensions, were seven in total. According to the figures in the table, the height must have been 90 meters. The building was crowned by a sanctuary in which (Herodotus was told) there was a gold bed and table. No one slept there except a woman of the country chosen by the god. This sanctuary would have been destined for the god’s hierogamy. Its center, which is the oldest part, is formed by a core of raw bricks, whose height was increased in the times of Nabopolasar and Nebuchadnezzar and which was covered with a new facing of baked bricks. Excavations have revealed three staircases, two lateral and one central;

Evidence of ancient texts

Tower destruction

These reviews have been supported by ancient texts, such as Herodotus’ account and especially the tablet called “of the Esagil”, preserved in Paris at the Louvre Museum , copied in the year 229 before our era from an ancient document that described the tower status. At a height of approximately 90 m, the pyramid building had seven floors, made of protruding walls, no doubt vertical. The top floor had worship facilities, adorned with blue enameled bricks, mimicking the color of the sky. But the tower of Babylon was completely destroyed.


The construction of the tower of Babel is mentioned in the Bible , in the 11th chapter of Genesis, this construction is of the ziggurat type, according to Genesis, the men intended with this construction to reach heaven. To avoid the success of the business Yahveh caused the builders to start speaking different languages, which resulted in great confusion and dispersal.

Nembord is considered the true manager of the idea to carry out this great company. This character who identifies the Bible as a powerful hunter opposed to Yahveh was the first to become king after the Flood. There are people who confuse him with Sargon I of Akkad and Sharrukin, Sargon is the founder of the first Semitic Empire. There are also people who believe they see Nembord as a figure of the Assyrian god Ninurta, god of war and hunting, who was happy to hunt down his enemies like Nembord.

For this construction, bricks were manufactured, since stone was not available, and it also happened with lime, since they did not have it, they used bitumen as mortar. Western archaeologists lasted four centuries trying to locate this famous construction. They searched for it in the area of ​​present-day Iraq, in Akar Quf in western Baghdad, and in Birs Nimrud where the ruins of ancient Borsippa are located, located near the remains of ancient Babylon. Robert Koldewey found a structure in 1913 in the city of Babylon that he identified as the Tower of Babel.

The tower of Babel has been destroyed and rebuilt on several occasions, due to the changing destination of the area. This tower was destroyed by the Aramaeans and by the Assyrians. This was rebuilt several times by the Chaldean princes such as Nabopolasar. In the times of Nabopolasar and Nebuchadnezzar II, the base of this construction would have been a square of 92 meters on each side and its height would have been increased, thus becoming a worthy exponent of its power and greatness.

According to archaeologists, this staggered tower may have been between 60 and 90 meters high.


Leave a Comment