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Friday, October 2, 1998 Published at 06:39 GMT 07:39 UK

World: Middle East

Rediscovering the Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel: Puzzle dating from the biblical times

A team of Austrian scientists says it has discovered exactly what the Tower of Babel would have looked like.

Their research is based on another ancient tower situated at Borsippa, 120 kilometres south of Baghdad.

The Bible says descendants of Noah tried to build the equivalent of a skyscraper to reach heaven.

According to the Book of Genesis, their plans were frustrated by God, angered by their arrogance.

What the Tower of Babel actually looked like is something which has puzzled the archaeologists for years.

Clue from writings

But now a team from Austria believes it has found the answer through excavations of a ruined tower in the Iraqi desert.

[ image: Excavations of another tower have helped to determine dimensions]
Excavations of another tower have helped to determine dimensions
"The conclusion may be that from the details studied here we can say what the dimensions of the Tower of Babel were. We know the height of every stage and we are able to conclude the size of the whole tower," says archaeologist Wilfred Alliger-Csollich.

The main clues came from writings found on the side of the building which quote King Nebuchadnezzar, who ordered its construction some 1,500 years ago.

He declared the tower should reach the skies and be similar to the one he had already erected in Babylon.

No refurbishment plans

[ image: Aiming to link man to God]
Aiming to link man to God
Researchers say the tower had three main staircases. They also believe the upper stages were decorated with blue glazed bricks and possibly with some mythical animals, such as dragons.

But while their work will have pleased Iraq, which is keen to use the attraction of the Tower of Babel as a means of establishing international links, the archaeologists say there are no plans to start a full refurbishment of the ruins.

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