What Is the Ziggurat Myth Behind the Tower of Babel?


Quick Answer

The mythical ziggurat behind the Tower of Babel is thought to be the Etemenanki of Babylon, dedicated to the god Marduk. Ancient people erected ziggurats throughout Mesopotamia, dedicating them to specific gods. Marduk was the patron god of Babylon, so scholars believe that the ziggurat dedicated to Marduk is the most likely candidate for the Tower of Babel in the Bible.

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Full Answer

The Tower of Babel story in the Bible, found in the book of Genesis, tells the tale of ancient humans in Mesopotamia erecting a tower to reach the sky and glorify themselves. At the time, humans all spoke the same language. God decided to confound the construction by making them speak different languages and scattering them across the Earth.

Some biblical scholars consider this tale to be symbolic of the vanity of humans and not indicative of an actual tower. Archeology has not definitively shown the remains of such a tower that fits the Tower of Babel story. The closest structure to the one described in Genesis is the ziggurat dedicated to Marduk. Known as the Great Ziggurat of Babylon, it stood 300 feet tall. Alexander the Great eventually destroyed the tower.

The Bible does not mention the phrase "Tower of Babel," but instead refers to "the city and its tower."

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