From the #HistoryOfUs series: Ishtar Gate And Procession Way

Holy Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar, Anger, Herbert, 1931, From the collection of: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Nebuchadnezzar II was pretty cool. This Babylonian king expanded his empire, drove back his enemies, and even a Wonder of the World goes back to him: the Hanging Gardens of Seramis – plus another structure, which was also regarded as such for some time: the city wall of Babylon with the blue Ishtar Gate.

Robert Koldewey (left) and colleague in Babylon, 1898 - 1917, From the collection of: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

2500 year later: The German architect Robert Koldewey finds a few blue brick fragments one day in the desert in what is now Iraq, he has an inkling that he is on to something really big. Over the next years he dugs up thousands and thousands of these bricks. He packs them into hundereds of cases and – on the basis of a splitting of finds with the Iraqi Antiquity Directorate 1927 – sent them to Berlin,...

Preparing to assemble the colored glazed brick fragments of the Ishtar Gate, Unknown, Late 1920s, From the collection of: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

... where they are soaked in water in 230 wooden tubs in the chemical laboratory of the Royal Museums and then impregnated. Then the job of putting the vast jigsaw puzzle together starts. Quite a job!

Ishtar Gate (reconstruction of the outer gate), Unknown, 6th century BCE, From the collection of: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The result is overwhelming! In 1930, three decades after the fragments were found and after years of hardest work, the monumental Ishtar Gate – one of the gates of the legendary ancient city of Babylon ...

Processional Way from Babylon with brick reliefs of walking lions, Unknown, 6th century BCE, From the collection of: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

... and part of what was once Babylon’s Processional Way are restored to their former glory in Berlin in a reconstruction made of original brick fragments and modern reproduction bricks.

Ishtar Gate (reconstruction of the outer gate), Unknown, 6th century BCE, From the collection of: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

It almost seems as if their builder knew it. He signed his work as follows: “I am Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. I have paved the street of Babylon with stone for the procession of the great Lord Marduk [the city God of Babylon]. May Marduk, Lord, grant eternal life!”

Model of the Processional Way and Ishtar Gate of Babylon, Design: W. Andrae Construction: Fa. Hummel, before 1930, From the collection of: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

His empire was not to last forever – in the final years of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar II fell prey to ever more frequent bouts of madness. And a few years after his death the Babylonian Empire vanished for good. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Robert Koldewey, however, his magnificent gate, including the processional road, lives on.
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