Daily Israel Report

Tower of Babel’s Ruins Waiting for Archaeologists

Archaeologists hope to save the ruins of the Tower of Babel and learn how it was built before it crumbled under the weight of confusion.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 1/3/2011, 3:29 PM / Last Update: 1/3/2011, 8:48 PM

Archaeologists are hoping to save the ruins of the Biblical era Tower of Babel, located in Iraq, and learn how it was built before it crumbled under the weight of confusion.

Following years of devastation under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and the ensuing American invasion of Iraq, World Monuments Fund conservationist Jeff Allen told The New York Times this week that archeologists are beginning to work on ancient Babylonian sites and possibly restore some of them.

No one has broached the idea of reproducing the Tower of Babel, which the Creator destroyed because of the generation’s attempt to compete with Him, "make a name for ourselves," and build a tower to the skies while everyone in the world still spoke one language.

The Bible relates that their effort turned to confusion, with no one understanding anyone else, and that the tower became a self-destructive effort, both physically and morally..

“All this is unexcavated. There is great potential at this site. You could excavate the street plan of the entire city,” said Allen.

As a first step, experts are working on a plan to prevent further deterioration of the mud-brick ruins, which were damaged by Hussein’s personal building projects.

A mound of mud-brick buildings is all that remains of the ancient city in Babylon where the Tower was being built, whose foundations appear to be a square of earthen embankments, measuring 300 feet on each side.

King Nebuchadnezzar II, who reigned nearly 2,600 years ago, tried to rebuild the Tower of Babel to a height of almost 300 feet.

It is not clear whether the original building was actually a “tower,” an English translation of the Hebrew term, or was a “ziggurat,” a stepped pyramid that was common at the time. Building materials consisted of mud and brick because stone was not readily available.

Nebuchadnezzar described how "gold, silver and precious stones from the mountain and from the sea were liberally set into the foundations" and how to rebuild it he called on "various peoples of the Empire, from north and south, from mountains and the coasts.”

The rebuilt tower also began to crumble, but a Greek historian, visiting the site 2,570 years ago, wrote, “It has a solid central tower, one furlong square, with a second erected on top of it and then a third, and so on up to eight. All eight towers can be climbed by a spiral way running around the outside, and about halfway up there are seats for those who make the journey to rest on."