The Ishtar Gate

The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BCE by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city. It was excavated in the early 20th century and a reconstruction using original bricks is now shown in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

History

Dedicated to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, the gate was constructed using glazed brick with alternating rows of bas-relief mušḫuššu (dragons) and aurochs (bulls), symbolizing the gods Marduk and Adad respectively.

The roof and doors of the gate were of cedar, according to the dedication plaque.

The gate was covered in lapis lazuli, a deep-blue semi-precious stone that was revered in antiquity due to its vibrancy. These blue glazed bricks would have given the façade a jewel-like shine. Through the gate ran the Processional Way, which was lined with walls showing about 120 lions, bulls, dragons and flowers on enameled yellow and black glazed bricks, symbolizing the goddess Ishtar. The gate itself depicted only gods and goddesses. These included Ishtar, Adad and Marduk. During celebrations of the New Year, statues of the deities were paraded through the gate and down the Processional Way.

The gate, being part of the Walls of Babylon, was considered one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. It was replaced on that list by the Lighthouse of Alexandria from the third century BC.

Excavation and display

A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way was built at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin out of material excavated by Robert Koldewey and finished in the 1930s. It includes the inscription plaque. It stands 14 m (46 ft) high and 30 m (100 ft) wide. The excavation ran from 1902 to 1914, and, during that time, 14 m (45 ft) of the foundation of the gate was uncovered.

An aurochs above a flower ribbon

Claudius James Rich, British resident of Baghdad and a self-taught historian, did personal research on Babylon because it intrigued him. Acting as a scholar and collecting field data, he was determined to discover the wonders to the ancient world. C.J. Rich’s topographical records of the ruins in Babylon were the first ever published, in 1815. It was reprinted in England no fewer than three times. C.J. Rich and most other 19th century visitors thought a mound in Babylon was a royal palace, and that was eventually confirmed by Robert Koldewey’s excavations, who found two palaces of King Nebuchadnezzar and the Ishtar Gate. Robert Koldewey, a successful German excavator, had done previous work for the Royal Museum of Berlin, with his excavations at Surghul (Ancient Nina) and Al-hiba (ancient Lagash) in 1887. Koldewey’s part in Babylon’s excavation began in 1899.

The method that the British were comfortable with was excavating tunnels and deep trenches, which was damaging the mud brick architecture of the foundation. Instead, it was suggested that the excavation team focus on tablets and other artefacts rather than pick at the crumbling buildings. Despite the destructive nature of the archaeology used, the recording of data was immensely more thorough than in previous Mesopotamian excavations. Walter Andre, one of Koldewey’s many assistants, was an architect and a draftsman, the first at Babylon. His contribution was documentation and reconstruction of Babylon. A small museum was built at the site and Andre was the museums first director.

One of most complex and impressive architectural reconstructions in the history of archaeology, was the rebuilding of Babylon’s Ishtar gate and processional way in Berlin. Hundreds of crates of glaze brick fragments were carefully desalinated and then pieced together. Fragments were combined with new bricks baked in a specially designed kiln to re-create the correct color and finish. It was a double gate; the part that is shown in the Pergamon Museum today is the smaller, frontal part. 

Parts of the gate and lions from the Processional Way are in various other museums around the world.

Ishtar gate, Pergamon Museum, Berlin

Only four museums acquired dragons, while lions went to several museums. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum has lions, dragons, and bulls. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, Denmark, has one lion, one dragon and one bull. The Detroit Institute of Arts houses a dragon. The Röhsska Museum in Gothenburg, Sweden, has one dragon and one lion; the Louvre, the State Museum of Egyptian Art in Munich, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Oriental Institute in Chicago, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, each have lions. One of the processional lions was recently loaned by Berlin’s Vorderasiatisches Museum to the British Museum.

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Une plainte de Service à la clientèle De 1750 BC

 

Une lettre inscrite dans une ancienne tablette d’argile, datant de 1750 avant JC correspondant à la période de la vieille Babylone, et actuellement au British Museum, pourrait être l’une des plus anciennes lettre de plainte de service à la clientèle trouvé. La plainte a été déposée par un certain Nanni à Ea-Nasir concernant la livraison de la mauvaise qualité du minerai de cuivre après un voyage de golfe et sur les directives erronées et des retards d’une nouvelle livraison. La traduction complète, aurait des Lettres de livres de la Mésopotamie par Assyriologist A. Leo Oppenheim, est reproduit ci-dessous. Nanni semble être très en colère. « Dites-Ea-Nasir: Nanni envoie le message suivant: Lorsque vous êtes venu, vous avez dit à moi comme suit:

«Je vais donner Gimil-Sin (quand il vient) fines lingots de cuivre de qualité. » Vous avez quitté l’époque, mais vous ne faites pas ce que vous me promis. Vous mettez lingots qui ne sont pas bonnes avant mon messager (Sit-Sin) et a dit: « Si vous voulez les prendre, prenez-les, si vous ne voulez pas de les prendre, aller loin » Pour qui me prenez-vous, que vous traitez quelqu’un comme moi avec un tel mépris? Je l’ai envoyé comme messagers messieurs comme nous pour recueillir le sac avec mon argent (déposé avec vous), mais vous me ai traités avec mépris en les renvoyant à moi les mains vides à plusieurs reprises, et que par le territoire ennemi. Y at-il quelqu’un parmi les marchands qui commercent avec Telmun qui m’a traités de cette façon? Vous traitez seul mon messager avec mépris! En raison de ce que l’un (insignifiante) mine d’argent que je dois (?), Vous hésitez à parler d’une telle manière, alors que je vous ai donné le palais en votre nom £ 1080 de cuivre, et umi-abum a également compte tenu de £ 1080 de cuivre, en dehors de ce que nous avons à la fois avions écrit sur une tablette étanche à être gardés dans le temple de Samas. Comment avez-vous me traité pour que le cuivre? Vous avez retenu mon sac de l’argent de moi en territoire ennemi; il est maintenant à vous de rétablir (mon argent) pour me en entier. Prendre connaissance que (à partir de maintenant) Je ne vais pas accepter ici toute cuivre de vous qui est pas de belle qualité. Je vais (à partir de maintenant) sélectionner et prendre les lingots individuellement dans ma propre cour, et je vais exercer mon droit contre vous de rejet parce que vous me l’avez traitée avec mépris. »

Ea-Nasir était un négociant en lingots de cuivre de Magan et a été actif dans les affaires au tournant du XIXe siècle av. Il apparaît comme un personnage peu scrupuleux, ou peut-être qu’il est juste tombé sur les moments difficiles à un moment donné dans sa carrière, car il ya un certain nombre de lettres de colère de ses partisans à Ur alors qu’il est absent dans Dilmun plaint qu’il n’a pas livré le biens promis. Selon le site du British Museum , la tablette d’argile est d’environ 1750 avant JC, alors que Hoyland dit Ea-Nasir était un marchand siècle BC 19. Iâ € ™ m ne sais pas qui est plus correct. La tablette d’argile elle-même a été excavé d’Ur, dans le sud de l’Irak, en 1953.

 

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A War Scene

Gypsum wall panel relief from the palace of Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III 745–727 BCE

Two Assyrian cavalrymen charging against enemies. Both have short curly hair, pointed beards, and wear a kind of pointed helmet with earflaps. The first horseman wears a fringed tunic, highly ornamented with discs set in squares, and a cuirass. The horses have the usual triple tasselled decoration on top of their heads, and two tassels attached to their plaited collars. The second horseman is spearing the horse of an enemy which is sinking down. The headless rider pitches forwards. He wears a garment held by a multiple girdle and low boots. Behind the Assyrian horses a headless figure, dressed in a long garment, lies upside down. He also seems to wear boots with slightly upturned toes. Above the slain a vulture flies to the right carrying entrails in its claws and beak.

NeoAssyrian
Excavated by: Sir Austen Henry Layard, 1849
Nimrud, Mosul
Central Palace, reused in the south west palace
Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III 745–727 BCE
British museum

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