Analysis Of The Ishtar Gate To The City Of Babylon

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The Ishtar Gate to the city of Babylon stood as a testament to the aim of King Nebuchadnezzar II to rebuild the ancient city of Babylon as the most grandiose and magnificent of the ancient world’s cities. Citizens of the neo-babylonian empire were the first to bear witness to its grandeur and were likely the best equipped to appreciate the aesthetics contributing to its religious meaning. Given that it was a main entrance to the central capital of Babylon, the gate could have been seen by citizens of different social classes and levels of education, and in turn may have conveyed different meanings to different classes of citizens. In the eyes of a merchant or artisan, the brilliant blue faience bricks adorned with religiously symbolic animals…show more content…
Taking precedence amongst these reliefs is the lion, representative of the goddess Ishtar, to whom the gate is dedicated. The Processional Way leading to and from the great gate is lined with these beasts, in reverence to the deity Ishtar, but also in recognition of Nebuchadnezzar’s power over such awesome creatures; their even-spaced cadence gives the impression of being conducted or controlled by the king himself. The form of two other venerated creatures adorn the gate walls, that of the auroch (a now extinct ancestor to modern cattle/bulls) and a “composite creature” most closely resembling a dragon or serpent but with the features of a few different animals. The auroch is synonymous to the weather god Adad, while the serpent creature was frequently used to depict the god Marduk, patron god to the city of Babylon. In addition to Marduk being a paramount deity in the Babylonian pantheon, King Nebuchadnezzar chiefly associated himself and his rule to the god Marduk. The three symbols on the Gate of Ishtar are meant to convey that the rule of the king was not only under the protection of, but also in league with the gods themselves. Given that “divine right” to rule has long been crucial to strong leadership over subjects, it is no wonder why King Nebuchadnezzar had the entrance to his palace patrolled constantly by symbols of his culture’s most important deities. In addition to these divine sentries, an inscription on the side of the gate illustrates majesty possessed by the Babylonian ruler. An excerpt
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