The ancient Mesopotamian structure that was the inspiration for the biblical Tower of Babel

Anita Durairaj

In the Bible, the Tower of Babel was mentioned in the Book of Genesis as a reason why different people in the world speak different languages.

According to the Bible, there was only one language in the beginning but as the human race migrated to the Land of Shinar, they built a tower that reached up to the top and was so high that it touched the sky. The tower was called Babel and that was where God decided that humans should have different languages and he scattered them all over the world.

Today, biblical scholars and archaeologists have attempted to identify the Tower of Babel.

One logical scientific explanation for the Tower of Babel is that the story was inspired by ancient structures called ziggurats.

Ziggurats were built in ancient Mesopotamia by different groups of people including the Sumerians, Babylonians, Akkadians, Elamites, and Eblaites. The ziggurat resembled a massive platform with successively receding storeys or levels. It would have served as a temple complex. A ziggurat had no internal chambers but there would have been an external staircase or ramp that provided access to the top of the platform.

Some ziggurats are still found today scattered in locations in Iraq and Iran. However, one of the most famous ziggurats was found in Marduk, Babylon. The ziggurat was called Etemenanki and scholars believe that it was this specific structure that inspired the story of the Tower of Babel.

Etemenanki is in ruins today and is located near Baghdad in Iraq. However ancient writings have described the structure as reaching to the "top to heaven." It has been described as "the wonder of the people of the world." This sounds very similar to the description of the Tower of Babel.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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