The construction of the Ishtar Gate was
by the Babylonian King named Nebuchadnezzar II approximately 575 BCE. It was
the eighth gate to the great city of Babylon that is the present day Iraq and
dedicated as the main entrance into the great city. The Ishtar gate built as
part of Nebuchadnezzarâ€™s plan to beautify the empireâ€™s capital and make it
safer from external invasion. During the first half of the 6th Century, he also
restored the temple of Marduk and built the great wonder of the Hanging Gardens
(Britanniae). He made the gardens as part of a reminder of Persia to his
homesick wife. His wife was named Amytis from Media, who was the granddaughter
of the king of Medes securing a lasting relationship between Babylonians and
Medes. The foundations of the gate were the only ones found going down to 45
feet and reconstructed in the Pergam Museum of Berlin from the glazed bricks
that were found from the original structure. The Ishtar gate is undoubtedly an
impressive monument that had a great impact on history (Britanniae).
Nebuchadnezzar dedicated the Ishtar
Gate to a Babylonian goddess called Ishtar, hence the name. It was regardless of the fact that
Nebuchadnezzar himself paid homage to other Babylonian Deities that were
represented by some animal representations. The young bulls and dragons held
described the animals on the gate. The animals were symbolic representations of
some deities. The lions are often associated with Ishtar, bulls symbolized
Adad, and the dragons represented the Marduk. The Ishtar was the goddess of
fertility, love, war, and sex. On the other hand, Adad was the god of wealth
while Marduk was the chief of all the gold of Babylon (Britanniae, 2013).
Therefore, with the deities represented at the Gates, it meant that Babylon
would stand protected from all forms of danger from externals as the gods gave
the people peace. It was also a way to symbolize his protection by the gods and
his appeasement to the gods for a favor, success and continued thriving of
Babylon which gave him massive support from the people that he led as they felt
confident in his rule since the gods were with him.
The Ishtar gate was also built with the
principal purpose of making the great city more beautiful. It was a beautifying
plan by Nebuchadnezzar and represented in the way that the Gate was
constructed. At the front, the gate was decorated with glazed bricks that had
alternating rows of dragons and the bulls (Fagan, 220). The animal symbols were further
furnished with colors such as yellow and brown tiles while the bricks that
surrounded them were blue. It made the place colorful and spectacular to view.
The blue enameled tiles said to have been lapis lazuli that are expensive and
unique and are very much beautiful. In as much as the gatehouse built in a
processional manner, there was a brick-paved corridor. The walls were adorned
with over 1209 sculptures of the lions, flowers and the enameled yellow tiles.
It was a very attractive part of the town.
The Ishtar gate was built to
demonstrate the power and influence that Babylon held at the time. It was a way
to symbolize the power and the mighty that took place by the Empire under the
rule of the powerful king Nebuchadnezzar. By the time that he came into power,
the city of Babylon had existed for over 2000 years and had had its share of
good fortunes. Nebuchadnezzar rose to power at a time that they were
experiencing prosperity. He still wanted to extend his reign and his power and
hence the need to make a statement of his influence and power (Fagan, 230). By the time the King ended his reign,
Babylon had extended in an arc all the way from the Egyptian border to the
Persian Gulf. The good fortune that the city was also experiencing gave him the
prestige and the resources to embark on a building program of his liking that
symbolized the prosperity of the Kingdom.
In the process of conquering other
kingdoms and expanding its reign, Babylon had enemies around. There was also
rivalry from other kingdoms that existed and hence there was a need to have a
fortress that would make it impossible to invade the mighty kingdom of Babylon.
The gates were constructed to measure up to 38feet high with a massive
antechamber on the southern side. The gatehouse also had a brick corridor that
was over a mile long with walls that were over 50 feet high on each side. The
walls were further reinforced with enameled tiles. The gate fortified the
defense of the Babylonian capital making it virtually impossible to invade the
city (Fagan, 226).
The Ishtar gate was also built to offer
inspiration and a unique aspect of the Babylonian empire that made the people
feel both powerful and protected. The Gate had a processional way that the
soldiers would pass through marking the start of the procession. The
Babylonians would assemble in front of the Gate and match through the triumph
arc and then proceed in a sacred way to the seven-story Ziggurat crowned near
the temple of Marduk. This worked to maintain the confidence of the soldiers as
they marched to conquer others and offered a sense of security to the citizens.
During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, they successfully advanced and conquered
Jerusalem brought the Kingdom of Judah to its knees and then carried the Jews
The Ishtar gate contributed in the
historical constructions. It is one of the most splendid monuments that ever
existed at the time and changed the course of the history of architecture and
of the art used in making the symbols. One of the most amazing things made at
the time were the blue glazed bricks as they were made durable and at the same
time had an impression on the viewer. It called for a sense of constructional
ingenuity that changed the history of construction (Matson).
Because of the strength and power that
Babylon exhibited and the influence they asserted over time, it made it clear
that attacking them as a single force would be difficult. Therefore, there was
historical; paradigm shift of when Cyrus the Great combined forces with the
Persian Empire. It was a rare case of two kingdoms coming together and is
attributable to the perception of invincibility that Babylon had made after
constructing the Ishtar Gate (Kleiner, 49).
In conclusion, the Ishtar Gate was a
splendid monument that shaped the history of art and construction. It was the
eight gate of the inner city of Babylon and built during the reign of
Nebuchadnezzar. The Gate was decorated with glazed brick reliefs, dragons,
bulls, and lions that symbolized the deities in Babylon. Ishtar was the
Babylonian goddess and Nebuchadnezzar dedicated the wall to her hence the name.
King Nebuchadnezzar aimed at making the city beautiful, demonstrates its power
and influence, and offered the starting point of processions that marked the
worship of the gods and that Babylonians achieved in the portrayal of their
power over the arc. The Ishtar gate was, therefore, a historical and epic
achievement for King Nebuchadnezzar II.
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