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Inscription of Nebuchadnezzar From the Ishtar Gate

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Building Inscription of King Nebuchadnezar II at the Ishtar Gate.

Building Inscription of King Nebuchadnezar II at the Ishtar Gate, now located in Berlin.

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Brick glazed (enameled) with a blue facing on the exterior side indicates the importance of the monument -- here, the Ishtar Gate -- built under the Neo-Babylonian monarch Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 605-562 B.C.). Nebuchadnezzar was the king credited with building the legendary hanging gardens that were one of the wonders of the ancient world. Besides being a great builder, he was also the Babylonian monarch known in Biblical history for acts that had a profound impact on the Jewish people, like his killing of King Jehoiakim of Judah along with inhabitants of Jerusalem, in around 605, his deportation of 597 BC, when King Jehoiachin, the successor Nebuchadnezzar had installed to replace Jehoiakim, and others were deported to Babylon, and the destruction of the temple of Solomon. The Book of Daniel says he went mad:
" 4.33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws. (KJV)

Leading the Deutsche Orientgessellschaft, the German archaeologist Robert Koldeway discovered the ancient city of Babylon and excavated there from 1899 to 1912, but all that was found of the gates were the foundations and the bricks. Koldeway had to develop a technique to distinguish brick from the surrounding soil. The bricks were then shipped to Berlin and reassembled into archaeologists' approximation of the original structure.

According to Somervill, the Akkadian cuneiform inscription on the Ishtar Gate boasts about the king's accomplishments and the building of the monument.

In Unearthing the past: the great archaeological discoveries that have changed history, Douglas Palmer, Paul Pettitt and Paul G. Bahn say that the two-towered gate was built on a platform and had a 25m arch. The Processional Way led from the Ishtar gate, past the king's palace, to the inner city.

Robert Koldewey, in The excavations at Babylon, provides the following translation of the consecration inscription:

"(Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, son of) Nabopolassar (King of Babylon am I). The gate of Nana (Ishtar . . . I built) with (blue) enamelled bricks ... for Marduk my lord. Lusty bulls of bronze and mighty figures of serpents I placed at their thresholds, with slabs (?) of limestone (and . . . ) of stone I . . . the enclosure of the bulls (...?) Marduk, exalted lord . . . eternal life . . . give as a gift" (trans. by Messerschmidt).

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