from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Reconstruction of the Etemenanki after R. Koldewey (August 30, 1919)

Etemenanki ( Sumerian É.TEMEN.AN.KI ; House of the Foundations of Heaven and Earth ) was a ziggurat dedicated to the Babylonian empire god Marduk in the capital Babylon in the 6th century BC. Some scholars see it as a model for the biblical story of the Tower of Babel ( Gen 11: 1-9  EU ). From its original seven storeys, little more than the foundations are preserved today, which appear in the satellite image as a dark square with a side length of 90 meters ( 32 ° 32 ′ 10.5 ″  N , 44 ° 25 ′ 15 ″  O coordinates: 32 ° 32 ′ 10.5 "  N , 44 ° 25 '15"  E ).


When Etemenanki was first built is still unclear. For a long time it was only assumed that the building existed between the twelfth and ninth centuries BC. From the mention of a ziggurat in Babylon in the epic of creation Enûma elîsch , however, it can also be concluded that Etemenanki already existed in the second millennium BC.

The Assyrian king Sennacherib who ruled Babylon in 689 BC. Completely destroyed, claims to have also destroyed Etemenanki. His successors began the reconstruction of the city, which was then driven forward mainly under the Chaldean rulers Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar II . The central building of this city was the Marduk temple Esaĝila in the vicinity of the Etemenanki, which was rebuilt by Nebuchadnezzar II. According to a clay tablet from Uruk , this new building had seven floors and a total height of 91 meters. There was a shrine on top.


Reconstruction of Etemenankis after Schmid

The best-known description of the ziggurat of Babylon comes from Herodotus from the 5th century BC. He reported on a Zeus Belus temple, according to his description it is very likely to be Esagila. According to Herodotus, within the Temenos of Esagila there was a tower with a square base with an edge length of an eighth of a mile (approx. 201 m). Seven other towers would have stood on top of this tower. Access to the roof of the tower was possible via a staircase that wound around the tower itself. There was a temple on the top tower, inside of which there was said to have been a colossal piece of furniture and a golden table.

From Nebuchadnezzar II comes a stele with a description of Etemenanki, which was discovered by Robert Koldewey during his excavations in 1917. Koldewey had previously discovered the Etemenanki in November 1900. On the stele, the Babylonian ruler boasts of having built the Etemenanki temple tower. The tower therefore reached up to the sky and was clad with bitumen and brick. In a flat relief there is also a representation of the Etemenanki with paired staircases to the lower steps of the tower, five further steps and a temple on the surface of the tower. On the relief there is also a floor plan of the building with a clear representation of a pillar-niche decoration of the outer walls and the inner rooms that surround a central cella .

From Uruk one comes inscribed clay tablet from the year 229 v. Chr., Which in turn reproduces an older text. Accordingly, the tower with its seven floors had a height of 91 meters and a base area with the same edge length. Robert Koldewey was able to confirm these dimensions through his excavations from 1913. He also found large, free-standing stairs in the southern section of the building, where it was connected to Esagila by gates. In the east there was another gate through which there was access to the tower from the processional street.


Alexander the Great conquered Babylon in 331 BC. And ordered the restoration of Etemenanki. On his return to Babylon in 323 BC. These renovation measures had shown no progress, however, which is why he ordered the demolition of the entire building in order to rebuild it from scratch. However, his unexpected death put an end to the reconstruction plans. The Babylonian Chronicles and the Astronomical Diaries report various attempts to rebuild Etemenanki, each beginning with the removal of debris from the original ziggurat. The Seleucid Crown Prince Antiochus (I.) had given his leaders of the war elephants the order to finally destroy the remains out of frustration because he stumbled and fell while making the sacrifice; this is where the ancient mentions of Esagila end.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ AR George: 'E-sangil and E-temen-anki, the Archetypal Cult-center ?. In: J. Renger (ed.), Babylon: Focus on Mesopotamian history, cradle of early learning, myth in the modern age . Saarbrücken, 1999, 301 f.
  2. George; Andrew: The Tower of Babel: Archeology, history and cuneiform texts. In: Archive for Orient Research 51 (2005/2006), 75–95.
  3. Herodotus, Historien 1, 181.
  4. ^ Esagila tablet in the Louvre, Paris
  5. Diodorus Siculus , 2.9.9; Strabo , Geography , 16.1.5.


  • AR George: E-sangil and E-temen-anki, the Archetypal Cult-center? In: Johannes Renger (Ed.): Babylon: Focus on Mesopotamian history, cradle of early learning, myth in the modern age. SDV, Saarbrücken 1999, ISBN 3-930843-54-4 .
  • AR George: The Tower of Babel: Archeology, History and Cuneiform Texts . In: Archive for Orient Research 51 (2005/2006), pp. 75–95. pdf document .
  • Anton Gill: Myth of Babylon . The cradle of our civilization (original title: Gateway of The Gods , translated by Ulrike Bischoff and Birgit Irgang). Hamburg: National Geographic Germany 2010, ISBN 978-3-8669-0164-3 .
  • Caroline Janssen: Bâbil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine. The Name and Fame of Babylon in Medieval Arabic Geographical Texts . Ghent 1995.
  • Hansjörg Schmid: The Etemenanki temple tower in Babylon . ( Baghdad Research. Volume 17). Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 1995, ISBN 3-8053-1610-0 .
  • Wilfried Seipel: The Tower of Babel . Volume I: The Babylonian Tower in Historical Lore, Archeology, and Art . Graz 2003.
  • Bert van der Spek, Is dit niet het great Babylon, dat ik gebouwd heb? In: Phoenix 36 (1990), pp. 51-63.

Web links