Daily Archives: May 9, 2009

Colonial archaeologists and the Ishtar Gate

Recently we called attention to an article in The New York Times about Babylon. Writer Steven Lee Myers says,

Colonial archaeologists packed off its treasures to Europe a century ago.

This statement seemed significant enough to be repeated under the photo of the miniaturized Ishtar Gate at the site. My immediate reaction to the statement is, “Well, aren’t we glad!” Anyone who has visited the Pergamum Museum in Berlin has seen the reconstructed Ishtar Gate. It looks like this.

Ishtar Gate in the Pergamum Museum of Berlin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ishtar Gate in the Pergamum Museum of Berlin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Now, it’s not that the German archaeologists, under the direction of Robert Koldewey, “packed off” what you see here. All of these lions, bulls, and dragons were excavated from the mound of ancient Babylon between 1899 and 1912. Eventually they were taken to Berlin in 1926. Even under the Communist government of East Germany this gate was preserved. I saw it a few times before the Berlin Wall came down. Anyone able to travel to Berlin may see the Ishtar Gate as well as the reconstructed Procession Street. Can one say as much for the ruins of Babylon and the museum in Baghdad?

Babylon was once the greatest city of the world when the Neo-Babylonian Empire reigned supreme in the Ancient Near East (626-539 B.C.). The prophet Daniel was active in Babylon from 605 B.C. until after the fall of the city to the Persians (Daniel).  I can not imagine that he failed to see this gate.

Nebuchadnezzar was a megalomaniac. His pride is evident in the statement recorded by the prophet Daniel.

The king uttered these words: “Is this not the great Babylon that I have built for a royal residence by my own mighty strength and for my majestic honor?” (Daniel 4:30 NET Bible)