Dedicatory Inscription
on the
Ishtar Gate, Babylon

Language: Akkadian
Medium: glazed brick
Size: c. 15 meters high
c. 10 meters wide
Length: 60 lines of writing
Genre: Dedication Inscription
Dedicator: Nebuchadnezzar
King of Babylonia
(reigned 605—562 BCE)
Approximate Date: 600 BCE
Place of Discovery: Babylon
(near modern Baghdad, Iraq)
Date of Excavation: 1899—1914
Current Location: Pergamon Museen
(Berlin, Germany)

(Adapted from Marzahn 1995:29-30)

Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, the faithful prince appointed by the will of Marduk, the highest of princely princes, beloved of Nabu, of prudent counsel, who has learned to embrace wisdom, who fathomed their divine being and reveres their majesty, the untiring governor, who always takes to heart the care of the cult of Esagila and Ezida and is constantly concerned with the well-being of Babylon and Borsippa, the wise, the humble, the caretaker of Esagila and Ezida, the firstborn son of Nabopolassar, the King of Babylon.
Both gate entrances of Imgur-Ellil and Nemetti-Ellil —following the filling of the street from Babylon—had become increasingly lower. Therefore, I pulled down these gates and laid their foundations at the water-table with asphalt and bricks and had them made of bricks with blue stone on which wonderful bulls and dragons were depicted. I covered their roofs by laying majestic cedars length-wise over them. I hung doors of cedar adorned with bronze at all the gate openings. I placed wild bulls and ferocious dragons in the gateways and thus adorned them with luxurious splendor so that people might gaze on them in wonder
I let the temple of Esiskursiskur (the highest festival house of Markduk, the Lord of the Gods—a place of joy and celebration for the major and minor gods) be built firm like a mountain in the precinct of Babylon of asphalt and fired bricks.

1. Noting Nebuchadnezzar's powerful position and honor, why does he consider himself "humble"? What did humility mean in an ancient Middle Eastern context? (See Malina 1998)
2. What is the connection of mountain imagery with regard to ancient temples? (see Hanson 1994)
3. What functions might the bulls, lions, and dragons serve beyond decoration?
4. How does Nebuchadnezzar understand his relationship to the gods of Babylon? What does this have to do with the ideology of kingship in ancient Mesopotamia?
5. Compare and contrast this inscription to the one Akish had inscribed in honor of Ptgyh (or Ptnyh) in Ekron.

Hanson, K. C. "Transformed on the Mountain: Ritual Analysis and the Gospel of Matthew." Semeia 67 (1994[95]):147-70.
Malina, Bruce J. "Humility." In Handbook of Biblical Social Values, 118-20. Ed. J. J. Pilch and B. J. Malina. 2d ed. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1998.
Marzahn, Joachim. The Ishtar Gate, The Processional Way, The New Year Festival of Babylon. Mainz am Rhein, Germany: Philipp von Zaubern, 1995.
Sack, Ronald H. "Nebuchadnezzar." In Anchor Bible Dictionary 4:1058-59. D. N. Freedman, ed. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Sack, Ronald H. "Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus in Folklore and History." Mesopotamia 17 (1982):67-131.
Saggs, H. W. F. The Greatness That Was Babylon. 2d ed. London, 1988.
Wiseman, D. J. Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1985.

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Last Modified: 17 September 2002