J R.R. Tolkien, (John Ronald Reuel Tolkien), once said, “History becomes legend. Legend becomes myth. And then there are none left who truly remember.”

It is important to keep legends and myths alive and study them closely as they may open up many new imaginative worlds for us while also letting us glimpse into the reality of the past. Today, also, we have another very interesting tale from our ancient past.

According to ancient and religious texts, it is said that after the Great Flood, some generations later, all mankind gathered to build a great tower or ziggurat, to reach the skies. The reasons for such an endeavour are different in all such texts, but nevertheless, it was decided that a tower of immense proportions was to be built. After many years of working hard and building the tower, the people, who at that time spoke only one language, suddenly started to speak in different languages. This created a lot of confusion and further construction was halted as the builders dispersed and all went their separate ways.

Babel itself has been derived from words meaning to ‘confuse’ or babble in simpler words, thus, since it was the place from where humanity came to speak several different languages which seemed like babbling. The place came to be known as Babel and that is how the place Babylon of the ancient times got its name. It is said that the Tower of Babel was perhaps constructed by King Nabopolassar in 610BC called the Etemenanki.

Some texts say that King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled Babylon later, stated that, “A former king built the temple of Seven Lights of the Earth, but he did not complete its head. Since a remote time, people had abandoned it, without order expressing their words. Since that time, earthquakes and lightening had dispersed its sun-dried clay; the bricks of the casing had split and the earth of the interior had been scattered in heaps”.

It means that the original construction was much older. The tower is supposed to have had a square base, and some texts say that it was 300 feet in height and was demolished by Alexander the Great, during his conquest. Then there is a legend in Central America, about the tower that it was built by seven giants who were rescued from the Great Flood. They built it to ‘storm Heaven’ and were thus destroyed by fire. This is according to an account given in the 14th century by a hundred year old priest in Mexico.

However, the original builder of the Tower of Babel is said to be King Nimrod — a tyrant who ordered his people to build a tower to reach the heavens.

In a book by researcher and author Sir James George Frazer written in 1918 Folklore in the Old Testament, it is written that 30 generations after Adam, people gathered to build a tower, which was abandoned when their languages were confused. It has been said that the purpose of building it was not only to defy God but also Abraham, who among some other few refused to take part in building it.

Similar legends are also told among the Tharu tribe of Nepal and northern India. Then there are other accounts that one of the reasons the tower was decided to be build was to survive if there’d be another Great Flood. The alleged tower’s remains are in Iraq, where the ill-famed city of Babylon was supposed to have existed. What baffles one regarding this great legend is the remaining sheer size of the Tower of Babel.

According to one ancient text, its size was a humongous 8,149.606 feet or about 1.6 miles in height, which by the way, makes it three times higher than ‘Burj Khalifa’ in Dubai, the tallest building in the world today! A medieval account states that the tower was 80 miles in circumference. And according to a native folklore, the tower did not look its actual height from the ground; it was wider at the base and gradually decreased in width as it reached its top making it look like a mountain. It was supposed to have a hundred gates, 25 on each side. And for the builders and constructors, there were living quarters, fields and water fountains around the tower.

Today, the only remains of the glorious Tower of Babel are the ruins of its base, which is, by the way, can even be viewed on Google Earth. And last but not the least, a recently discovered black stone tablet dating from 604-552BC, during the time of King Nebuchadnezzar, is thought to be the oldest and best proof that the Tower of Babel did in fact exist. But whether it was the origin of the many different tongues spoken around the world is still a mystery.

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