The Tower of Babel and the Ishtar Gate
August 5, 2020
Israelite and Persian Perspectives on Babylon’s Great Monuments: The Tower of Babel and the Ishtar Gate
The Hebrew Bible is very familiar with the city of Babylon and refers to it more often than any other city beyond Israel. Babylon was understood as the quintessential foreign city. Its massive architecture, particular topography, and learned traditions inspired both respect and condemnation. The story of the “city and tower” in Genesis 11:1–9 even concedes, contrary to the arguments of most interpreters, that the tower was actually completed. It stood, in a literary sense, as the pole around which Israel’s historical narratives revolve.
Meanwhile, for the earliest Achaemenid kings of the Persian empire, Babylon offered architectural examples for use in their new imperial style. One structure in particular, the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, made a dramatic impression and prompted construction of an exact replica at Tol-e Ajori, a site west of Persepolis excavated in recent years by a joint Italian- Iranian team. The structure at Tol-e Ajori represents a kind of celebration in brick of Babylon’s cosmic monumentality.
David Vanderhooft is Associate Professor in the Theology Department at Boston College
BAF and its sister organization in Northern Virginia (BASONOVA), are delighted to announce a joint resumption of their lecture series on the ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean. This series will be broadcast “live” via Zoom, and “attendees” will be able to direct questions of the presenters.
How to Access the Lecture Series
We will announce additions to the line-up of presenters on a regular basis, as it is our aim to offer more than one event each month. Members will also receive a regular listing of recommended lectures in the public domain.
If you wish to subscribe to the series*, please access the BASONOVA PayPal portal and use a credit card for a one-year subscription ($35 per family). Go to: http://www.basonova.org/membership-form.html
It is also possible to access the series one lecture at a time, for $6 per lecture. To receive your single-lecture Zoom invitation, go to: http://www.basonova.org/next-lecture-reservation.html
*Maryland residents will be enrolled in BAF and Virginians will be enrolled in BASONOVA. There is no advantage in enrolling in one group versus the other, only that when in-person lectures begin again you will be apportioned to the group that matches your state of residence.