The first episode of the new season of the Smithsonian Channel’s “Secrets” series spotlights a stone tablet discovered in Babylon more than 100 years ago that is believed to confirm the existence of the biblical Tower of Babel as outlined in the Book of Genesis.
“Ancient texts have allowed experts to imagine what the building might have looked like,” a promotional video for the episode outlines, pointing to the Scriptures. “But now, astounding new evidence has emerged. Inscribed on the surface of a privately owned tablet, is an image that sensationally reveals what the Tower of Babel looked like.”
Although the tablet, which dates to approximately 600 B.C., was unearthed a century ago, it was just recently that the piece was brought to ancient text expert Dr. Andrew George of the University of London, who noted that the stone bears an image seemingly depicting the biblical tower.
During the broadcast, George explains the drawings and inscriptions on the tablet, which include a stepped tower and a figure of a human carrying a staff. The stone also bears ancient writing, which when translated, reads, “The ziggurat temple tower of the city of Babylon.”
“This tablet provides the first-ever image of the real Tower of Babel. It confirms the building was a Mesopotamian stepped tower and illustrates the seven tiers of the ancient megastructure,” the Smithsonian excitedly states. “Significantly, it also clearly identifies the man behind it: Mesopotamia’s most famous ruler, King Nebuchadnezzar II.”
Additional inscription on the stone also provides information as to the extent of the tower.
“It reads, ‘From the upper sea,’ which is the Mediterranean, ‘to the lower sea,’ and that’s the Persian Gulf,” George outlines in the episode. “The far-flung lands and teeming people of the habitations are mobilized in order to construct this building—the ziggurat of Babylon.”
“Incredibly, this ancient account is identical to the biblical story of how the Tower of Babel was constructed,” the Smithsonian Channel acknowledges. “For scholars, the tablet offers further proof that the Tower of Babel wasn’t just a work of fiction. It was an actual building from antiquity.”
Bodie Hodge, a researcher with Answers in Genesis and the author of “Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors,” told Christian News Network that he does believe the ancient piece serves as confirmation of the biblical tower. However, he noted that even though the stele indeed bears the image of Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar II and does likely date to 600 B.C, the Smithsonian has wrongfully attributed Nebuchadnezzar to being the mastermind behind the structure.
“They do have the correct image here. This is an image of Nebuchadnezzar II, [and] we gather that from the text,” Hodge explained. “The difference is that they actually try to equate Nebuchadnezzar as the builder … and that’s where the error gets introduced. The Tower of Babel [was built] actually well before Nebuchadnezzar. It would have been built about 900 years before.”
He said that he believes the tablet is a depiction of the Tower of Babel as it was observed—still standing—during Nebuchadnezzar’s lifetime.
“I think [the stele] is talking about the Tower of Babel here and this is just Nebuchadnezzar presenting it, talking about it,” Hodge outlined. “It’s possible that Nebuchadnezzar did repairs to the tower.”
“Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler of the Babylonian empire, stationed out of Babylon, which is where the Tower of Babel was built. So, of course he’s going to have access to it, see it, [and] maybe even try to do some repairs to it even in his day,” he added.
Hodge noted that Christians should be aware that the Smithsonian is a secular, humanistic institution and that all claims should be compared to Scripture.
“It’s a fascinating piece. It is a powerful confirmation of what we read in the Scriptures,” he said, “but the key is to make sure that we understand what we’re really looking at.”
In Genesis 11, the Bible records that men who had settled in Shinar conspired to build a great brick and mortar tower to unify humanity and make a name for themselves “lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”
“And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built,” the Scriptures outline. “And the Lord said, ‘Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language. And this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let Us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.'”
“So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth, and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel, because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth, and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth,” Genesis explains.