The Neo-Babylonian Period

The Babylonian Collections of the University Museum

By: Leon Legrain

Originally Published in 1944

View PDF

A large baked clay barrel cylinder covered in inscriptions
Figure 42. Clay cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon, 604-561 B.C.
Museum Object Number: B9
Image Number: 6496

Foreign rule was deeply resented by the Babylonians. The fall of Nineveh which filled the Orient with stupor found them on the side of Elam and the Medes, ready to share the spoils of the empire. The Chaldaean princes, Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus, equalled the Assyrians as conquerors, and surpassed them as builders. Babylon with its enormous walls and moats, the Ishtar gate decorated with glazed brick reliefs, the procession way leading to the great temple and tower of Bel-Marduk, the palace with its hanging gardens, the Euphrates bridge, became one of the marvels of the world. (cf. Dr. R. Koldewey, The Rediscovered Babylon, 1899-1912.) The Babylonian Section of the University Museum is rich in monuments of this period: stamped bricks bearing the name, title, filiation of the king, and the name of the building shrine or tower for which it was intended; foundation documents like the clay cylinder of Nabopolassar, the large clay barrel of Nebuchadnezzar (Figure 42), bought in London in 1888 (cf. PBS, Vol. XV, Royal Inscriptions and Fragments from Nippur and Babylon, 1926), describing the restoration of the temples of Marduk and Nabu at Babylon and Borsippa, and their magnificent state-boat, and another describing the restoration of the great walls; the clay cylinders of Nabonidus discovered by Taylor in 1854 on the second stage of the Ziggurat at Ur, which first identified the ruin with the native city of Abraham. On them is inscribed a prayer for Belshazzar, his son and heir, the same who saw the ominous writing on the wall. A daughter of Nabonidus, Bel-shalti-Nannar, was high priestess of the moon-god, as was the daughter of Sargon centuries before. She lived in state in the Egipar palace with a large retinue and endowment, as we know from a cylinder in the Yale University collections. A small clay column dating to Sin-balatsu-iqbi and inscribed with copies of ancient brick stamps was one of the curiosities exhibited in her museum. The blue glazed bricks of the shrine at the top of the Ziggurat restored by Nabonidus may be seen in the Babylonian Section of the University Museum.

Cite This Article

Legrain, Leon. "The Neo-Babylonian Period." Museum Bulletin X, no. 3-4 (June, 1944): 61-63. Accessed July 15, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

Report problems and issues to