Etemenanki

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Coordinates: 32°32′11″N 44°25′15″E / 32.53639°N 44.42083°E / 32.53639; 44.42083

Etemenanki (Sumerian É.TEMEN.AN.KI 𒂍𒋼𒀭𒆠 "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth") was the name of a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk in the city of Babylon of the 6th century BCE Neo-Babylonian dynasty. Originally seven stories in height, little remains of it now save ruins. According to modern scholars such as Stephen L. Harris, the biblical story of the Tower of Babel was likely influenced by Etemenanki during the Babylonian captivity of the Hebrews.

Contents

Construction

It is unclear exactly when Etemenanki was first built. A review article by Andrew R. George says that its builder may have "reigned in the fourteenth, twelfth, eleventh or ninth century" but argues that

The reference to a ziqqurrat at Babylon in the Creation Epic (Enûma Eliš· VI 63: George 1992: 301-2) is more solid evidence, however, for a Middle Assyrian piece of this poem survives to prove the long-held theory that it existed already in the second millennium BC. There is no reason to doubt that this ziqqurrat, described as ziqqurrat apsî elite, ‘the upper ziqqurrat of the Apsû’, was E-temenanki.[1]

The city of Babylon had been destroyed in 689 BCE by Sennacherib, who claims to have destroyed the Etemenanki. The city was restored by Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar II. It took 88 years to rebuild the city; its central feature was the temple of Marduk (Esagila), to which the Etemenanki ziggurat was associated. The ziggurat was rebuilt by Nebuchadnezzar II. The seven stories of the ziggurat reached a height of 91 meters, according to a tablet from Uruk (see below), and contained a temple shrine at the top.

In Nebuchadnezzar's own words:

A former king built the Temple of the Seven Lights of the Earth, but he did not complete its head. Since a remote time, people had abandoned it, without order expressing their words. Since that time earthquakes and lightning had dispersed its sun-dried clay; the bricks of the casing had split, and the earth of the interior had been scattered in heaps. Marduk, the great lord, excited my mind to repair this building. I did not change the site, nor did I take away the foundation stone as it had been in former times. So I founded it, I made it; as it had been in ancient days, I so exalted the summit.

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