Smithsonian Channel's 'Secrets' highlights stone tablet that could confirm existence of Tower of Babel

Andrew George, Professor of Babylonian, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, appears in a screen capture of a video of his lecture about the Epic of Gilgamesh. | YouTube/Semitic Museum

The first episode of the new season of the Smithsonian Channel's "Secrets" is drawing attention to an ancient stone tablet that is believed to be the first-ever image of the Tower of Babel.

The tablet, which dates to approximately 600 B.C., was discovered a century ago, but it has never been studied or exhibited until recently.

Dr. Andrew George, an expert in ancient Babylon, believes that the stone is the true source of the famed Biblical story.

In the episode, George, a professor of Babylonian at the University of London, examines the tablet that bears an image of a Babylonian tower known as a ziggurat. The stone also includes a drawing of a stepped tower and a figure of a human carrying a staff, as well as an inscription that identifies the structure as the "Tower of Temple of Babylon."

The stone tablet, which was captured on film for the first time by Smithsonian Magazine, is part of the private collection of Norwegian businessman Martin Schøyen.

Another inscription on the ancient stone 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 explained.

"The far-flung lands and teeming people of the habitations are mobilized in order to construct this building—the ziggurat of Babylon," he continued.

Archaeologists generally agree that the tower was once situated in the ancient city of Babylonia, an area known today as Al Qasr, approximately 80 miles south of Baghdad. The original city was built in 2300 B.C. and was sacked by the Hittites in 1595 B.C.

Nebuchadnezzar II rebuilt it in 612 B.C. and turned the city into his capital. He constructed a large ziggurat around the original ancient tower that is believed to have been almost 300 feet tall.

The professor believes that the builders of the tower, hailing from all over the region, could represent the Biblical "multitudes" of languages that led to the destruction of the structure.

"The myth about the multitude of tongues comes from the context described in the stele about the multitude of peoples enlisted in the construction of the tower," George told Breaking Israel News.

"There were many languages spoken on the construction site. From that it may be that the Bible got the idea of the confusion of tongues," he went on to say.

George expressed his belief that there is an actual building that inspired the Biblical narrative.

The professor said he is not a religious person, but he sees no contradiction between science and the Bible.

He noted that people began to ask which parts of the Bible were not true after Charles Darwin cast doubt about the story of creation, but he contended that the schism between science and religion is gradually being reconciled in his field.

"In the 19th century there was a discovery that the Assyrian kings described in the Bible were real and corroborated by archaeological evidence, making us ask now, how much more in the Bible is true?" he said.