The Tower remains one of the most mysterious stories contained in the Bible. For years, whether or not the Tower was a real, physical thing was open for discussion. Many believed it was simply symbolic, acting as a message to the Bible’s dedicated followers.
Others claimed it was merely folklore or legend.
The fragile remains of the ancient city of Babylon, in modern day Iraq, have revealed many secrets; the greatest of all the discovery of a vast structure which ancient records suggest was the Tower of Babel.
These texts, as well as others found all around the Middle East – where Christianity originated – have given scholars some idea of what the building might have looked like.
Yet, none have given researchers a clear outline or description bound in solid imagery.
Things changed in 2017 when academics were given access to a privately owned tablet.
The artefact was explored during the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary, ‘Secrets: Tower of Babel’.
Here, the narrator said: “Inscribed on the tablet is an image that sensationally reveals exactly what the Tower of Babel looked like.”
Dr Andrew George, an expert in ancient texts at SOAS, University of London, said: “This is a very strong piece of evidence that the Tower of Babel story in the Bible was inspired by this real building.”
The remarkable tablet, which had never been filmed before, dates to the 6th century BCE, and was discovered in Babylon over a century ago.
Yet, no one had realised how important it was until Professor George was given the slab, and went on to decipher the inscriptions.
He explained: “At the top part there is a relief, depicting a step tower.
“And here, a great figure of a human being carrying a staff with a conical hat on.
“Below that relief is the text which has been chiseled into the monument, and the label is easily read: it reads, ‘The temple tower of the city of Babylon’.”
As the narrator noted: “This tablet provides the first-ever image of the real Tower of Babel.
“It confirms the building was a Mesopotamian stepped tower and illustrates the seven tiers of the ancient megastructure.
“Significantly, it also clearly identifies the man behind it: Mesopotamia’s most famous rule, King Nebuchadnezzar II.”
While the images are extraordinary, the tablet’s ancient text also revealed a detailed account of the tower’s construction.
And, more importantly, it goes on to tell of how Nebuchadnezzar went about building it.
Professor George translated the text for the documentary, and said: “It reads from the Upper Sea, which is the Mediterranean, to the Lower Sea, and that’s the Persian Gulf, ‘The far-flung lands and teeming people of the inhabitations I mobilised in order to construct this building of this ziggurat of Babylon’.”
The ancient account is identical to the Biblical story of how the Tower of Babel was constructed.
For scholars, the tablet offers further proof that the Tower wasn’t just a work of fiction, but an actual building from antiquity.