Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Transcription: Tower of Babel Sources - Continued

I didn't realise how much reading and research I would be digging myself into when I first started this. Lots of writing ahead.

One of the significant parts of the project that's been stressing on me is how correct or well I would get the historical accuracy of the tower's description to model from.
Because there are numerous accounts describing the tower, there is a lot a lot of reading that needs to be analysed before I can have a crystal clear picture of how the tower looks like. Unfortunately, the process of going through each books relating to the Tower of Babel was depressing- all signs pointed to its biblical reference, or proved unreliable or too brief descriptions and were therefore unhelpful.

I finally found a detailed and somewhat reliable description of the tower published in "Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics (1908) by James Hastings"

The source is somewhat interesting as it contains some project-breathing information in relation to the approximate measurements of each towers platforms, the insides of the tower, and the two courtyards surrounding the tower. This particular source was also cross-referencing other persons I analysed that also gave an account on the description the tower, specifically Herodotus, a 5th Century Greek Historian, and George Smith (1840-1876), a well-known pioneering English Assyriologist. Before Hasting's Encyclopedia of Religion, the previous books irritatingly had simple passages and specific short quotes from the aforementioned people as well as conflicting information.

Like an essay, I've analysed, quoted and explained the parts that are relevant along with diagrams to interpret each section. The information containing the tower's description is split onto two pages, 690-691, the bibliography is at the bottom of the post.

The Courtyards and Gates

"The late G. Smith was once fortunate enough to have in his hands a Babylonian tablet in which the building was described, and this is probably the most trustworthy account of it in existence. Adopting his estimate of the metric system used, the 'grand court' of the temple measured 1156 ft by 900 ft. and the next, 'the court of Istar and Zagaga' 1056 ft by 450 ft, with six gates admitting to the temples." (pg690, Hastings)

"Herodoctus describes it as a massive tower 200 yards square at the base, within an enclosure 400 yards each way, and provided with gates of bronze. The stages, or towers as Herodoctus calls them, amounted to eight in number, and, like the temple-tower found by the French explorers at Khorsabad, were provided with an enclined pathway on all four sides of each, enabling the visitor to reach the top."

The first courtyard, entitled the 'Grand Court', measured 1156 feet by 900 feet. It's probably worth mentioning that Herodoctus' description of the tower was 200 yards square, approximately 600 feet. This description is smaller then George Smith's description. I'll choose to use George Smith's measurements for this particular section.
The measurements for 'The Court of Ishtar and Zagaga' were 1056 feet by 450 feet and had pathways into the six temples.
Each gate will be bronzed and the inclined pathway to the top part of the tower will also be added.

The Kigalla

"Described as a space or platform, apparently walled, called, in Sumero-Akkadian, kigalla or zur, and in Semitic Babylonian kigallu or birutu- words apparently meaning an enclosed and levelled space. it was described as square, 2ku each way (1213 ft 6 in - each way, furnished with bronze gates). In accordance with Babylon custom, the angles indicated the cardinal points, and each side had an entrance."
"Inside the enclosure, and at the time the tablet was written, stood some kind of erection 200ft square, connected with the tower, and having round its base the chapels or temples of the various gods, on all four sides, and facing the Cardinal points."

This section was hard to understand from the text initially, but after my talk with Phil, it was made much clearer. The Kigalla (which i'll refer as from now on), measures 1213 feet 6 inches on each side and is where the Tower of Babel is situated. The 200ft erection inside the enclosure that connects to the tower has a vague description, so I will either neglect that detail due to lack of information or look more into Babylonian statues as well as their gods, and base it around those sources.

The Kigalla - North, East, South and West Sides

"On the East side was a building 70 or 80 cubits long and 40 broad, containing sixteen shrines, the chief ones being dedicated to Nebo and Tasmet, his consort. On the North were temples to Ea or Aa and Nusku, and on the S a single temple dedicated to Anu and Bel."
"On the West side, however, that the principal buildings were to be found- a double house or temple with a court between two wings or differing dimensions. The building at the back was 125 cubits by 30. Mr Smith was able to make out with certainty the disposition of all the erections, but in the West chambers stood the couch of the god, and the throne of gold mentioned by Herodoctus, besides other furniture of great value."

Each side of the Kigalla contained significant elements:
-The East Side contained a building which was 80 cubits (120 feet) long and 40 cubits(60 feet) wide. The text discussing the sixteen shrines will need to be looked into further, but Nebo and Tasmet are the primary Gods to focus on.
-The North Side contained temples to the Babylonian Gods Ea, and Nusku
-The South Side contained a temple to the Babylonian God Anu and Bel (A title of some sort, need to look into further)
-The West Side contained the primary buildings. including a larger temple measuring 125 cubits (187 feet 6 inches) long and 30 cubits (45 feet) wide with a courtyard in-between.
The chambers inside the large temple contained some erected statues, as well as a golden throne, and some highly-valued furniture including a couch of the god.
The tower was also situated on the west side of the Kigalla.

Platform One and Two

"The main building was the ziggurat, or temple tower, square, and with its corners towards the cardinal points. The lowest stage was also the largest, being 300 ft square by 110 ft high. It had the usual recessed or panelled ornamentation of Babylonian architecture. The second stage was 260 ft square by 60 ft high. An obscure term was applied to it, which G Smith suggested might mean it had sloping sides; probably they were hollowed out. This change in form would break the monotony of the structure."

The corners on the First Tower's Platform indicates North East South and West. The First Platform measured at 300 feet long and wide, and 110 feet high. The platform was decorated in Babylonian ornamentation but can be assumed that each platform had ornamentation anyway. The second platform measured at 260 feet both sides, and 60 feet high.

Platform Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven

"The third stage commenced a regular series all equal in height, namely 1 gar or 20 ft, but decreasing in side.
The third was 200 ft square, the fourth 170 ft, the fifth 140 ft, the sixth apparently 110 ft. On this was the topmost stage, the seventh which was the upper temple or sanctuary of the god Bel-Merodach. Its dimensions G. Smith makes to be 80 ft long, 70 ft broad and 50 ft high, the total height of the tower being 300 ft, exactly equal to the dimensions of the base. The raising of the base above the level of the ground would naturally make the height above the plain greater than this."

Platform Three, Four, Five, and Six's measurements are the same in terms of height, but decrease in its size as they go up. The height of those platforms are 20 feet. However, Platform Seven is special.
Platform Three was 200 feet on each side, Platform Four was 170 feet, Platform Five was 140 feet, and Platform Six was 110 feet.
The last platform, Platform Seven, was 80 feet long, 70 feet wide, and 50 feet high. This was the last section of the tower, and contained a temple or sanctuary to the Babylonian God Bel-Merodach.

The Towers Insides

"About the middle of the ascent (apparantly the fourth stage) was a stopping place, with seats to rest upon. On the topmost stage was a large cell, with a couch and a golden table, but no image, as the god himself was said to descend thither when he visited the woman chosen by him to pass the night there. The image of the god was in a cell below, with a table, probably for offerings, and an altar outside. Image, table, and altar are all said to have been of gold, and the last named was for sucklings only. An altar for full grown animals, and one for frankincense on the occasion of the god's festival, were also there"

Inside the fourth platform was a large room, containing a couch and a golden table.
Below that room was another that contained a table for offerings to the God, as well as an altar outside.
The image, table and altar are all made of Gold. The altar was for fully grown animals, there is also another altar for frankincense on the occasion of the God's festival but is otherwise not used.

For development's sake, below is the original diagrams before the talk with Phil. I interpreted wrongly, believing the courtyards and buildings were inside each other. Rather than beside each other.


Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics (1908): v. 2
Author: James Hastings
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing Co.
Published: 24 Jan 2003

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