Borsippa

From Academic Kids

Borsippa was an important ancient city of Mesopotamia (Iraq), built on both sides of a lake about eleven km (7.5 miles) southwest of Babylon, on the west bank of the Euphrates. The site of Borsippa is now called Birs Nimrud, identifying the site with Nimrod, and the ziggurat, the "Tongue Tower," today one of the most vividly identifiable surviving ziggurats, is misidentified in the Talmud and Arab culture with the Tower of Babel.

Borsippa is mentioned, usually in connection with Babylon, in texts from the Ur III period through the Seleucid period and even in early Islamic texts. Borsippa was dependent upon Babylon and was never the seat of an autochthonous power. From the 9th century BCE, Borsippa was on the borderland south of which lay the tribal "houses" of Chaldea.

An impressive ruin of its ziggurat marks the site, which has been excavated since 1980 by teams directed by the Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck; an Austrian team was poised to return in 2003. Many legal administrative and astronomical texts on cuneiform tablets have originated at Borsippa and have turned up on the black market. The local god was Nabu, called the "son" of Babylon's Marduk, as would be appropriate for Babylon's lesser sister-city. An inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II, the "Borsippa inscription," tells how he restored the temple of Nabu, "the temple of the seven spheres," with "bricks of noble lapis lazuli." that must have been covered with a rich blue glaze, surely a memorable sight. The Austrian Archeologists have determined that Nebuchadnezzar's ziggurat encased the ruins of a smaller tower from the second millennium BCE. When it was completed it reached a height of 231 feet, in seven terraces; even in ruin it still stands a striking 172 feet over the perfectly flat plain. Some tablets have been recovered, but archeologists still hope to uncover a temple archive of cuneiform tablets, of which there were some copies in ancient Assyrian libraries. An inscribed foundation stone has been recovered, which details Nebuchadnezzar's plan to have the Borsippa ziggurat built on the same design as that at Babylon, of which only the foundation survives. Nebuchadnezzar declared that Nabu's tower would reach the skies, another inscription states.

According to the Iraqi Press Monitor (UK), in January 21, 2004: AlMutamar reported, uder the headline "Foreigners Steal Ancient Artefacts," "Foreign visitors to archaeological sites in Babylon, exploiting the site’s lack of surveillance and security, have stolen valuable artefacts, the paper says. Local residents reported seeing foreigners abscond with relics from the city of Borseeba. It is not the first time foreigners have stolen relics from the area." The site mentioned is Birs Nimrud, ancient Borsippa.

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