A trove of newly translated texts from the ancient Middle East are revealing accounts of war, the building of pyramidlike structures called ziggurats and even the people's use of beer tabs at local taverns.
The 107 cuneiform texts, most of them previously unpublished, are from the collection of Martin Schøyen, a businessman from Norway who has a collection of antiquities.
The texts date from the dawn of written history, about 5,000 years ago, to a time about 2,400 years ago when the Achaemenid Empire (based in Persia) ruled much of the Middle East.
The team's work appears in the newly published book "Cuneiform Royal Inscriptions and Related Texts in the Schøyen Collection" (CDL Press, 2011). [Photos of the ancient texts]
Among the finds is a haunting, albeit partly lost, inscription in the words of ziggurat — massive pyramidlike towers built in ancient Mesopotamia — dedicated to the god about 2,500 years ago.II, a ruler of who built a great
The inscription was carved onto a stele, a stone slab used for engraving. It includes a drawing of the ziggurat and King Nebuchadnezzar II himself.
Some scholars have argued that the structure inspired the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. In the inscription, Nebuchadnezzar talks about how he got people from all over the world to build the Marduk tower and a second ziggurat at Borsippa.
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