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Recent Discovery Contains Oldest Depiction of the Tower of Babel

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the tower-built-by-java-developer dept.

Science 309

smitty777 writes "The recent discovery of the Tower of Babel stele by a team of scholars shows what might be the earliest depiction of the ancient Tower of Babel. The stele belongs to Martin Schøyen, who also owns a large number of pictographic and cuneiform tablets, some of the earliest known written documents. The tablet (reconstruction) depicts King Nebuchadnezzar II, under whom Babylon was a cultural leader in astronomy, mathematics, literature and medicine. It's also interesting to note the somewhat recent Slashdot article linking the common ancestry of languages to this area."

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309 comments

Pretty Lame (5, Funny)

Swanktastic (109747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516836)

The tower comes up to his waist.

Re:Pretty Lame (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38516902)

It's only a model.

Re:Pretty Lame (5, Funny)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517448)

What is this, a center for ants?!

How can we be expected to teach children when they can't even fit inside the building?!

Tower of babel is interesting. Have they ever actually figured out how big it actually was etc? Because the carvings aren't very detailed or convincing.

Re:Pretty Lame (1)

t0qer (230538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517988)

How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building!

Re:Pretty Lame (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517044)

What is this, a Tower of Babel for ants? It needs to be at least ... three times bigger than this.

Re:Pretty Lame (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518022)

Size doesn't matter. You should see how small the Derek Zoolander Center For Children Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too is

CS equivalent of the tower of babel (0)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516924)

The CS equivalent of the tower of Babel original universal language would probably be BAL

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Basic_assembly_language [wikipedia.org]

The 360 being the first major unified scientific and business processor, so I guess its most core language would be the first universal language.

There are terminology differences, in that HLASM is the assembler for BAL. So calling it "HLASM" is not entirely correct.

Although Knuth's MIX is more "universal" its not the first and its manufactured not organically grown from its ancestors like BAL.

I would give a pity vote to BASIC, but...

Tower of Babel (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38516928)

ToB is a story of humanity's first venture down the road of socialism, where all of humanity fell under the rule of a single dictator. As the story goes, God caused the languages of his people to become 'confused' so that no longer could a single dictator take control of the whole population. The most they could gain control over was those who spoke his language (think Hitler, his influence was limited to those who spoke German, essentially).

Re:Tower of Babel (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517106)

That's not socialism [wikipedia.org] . You're describing a totalitarian state.

AC is just an ignorant republitarian (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517154)

The republitians just want to hand over all our rights to our corporate overlords and let the free market take care of itself.

Never mind that our current system comes from the free market not taking care of itself. And while things are that great right now, they aren't nearly as bad as they were back in the glorious 1880s.

Re:Tower of Babel (3, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517258)

I'm not sure if it's supposed to be a deliberate parody of religion, or genuine crazy. Impossible to tell sometimes. It's also very common in US poltics for the term 'socialism' to be thrown around to scare people without any obvious relation to its correct meaning - the cultural relics of the Red Menace never entirely left the country.

Re:Tower of Babel (2)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517818)

It's unfortunate but true. Socialism is in concept a very desirable socioeconomic model. In practice it would require that the society in question be bereft of selfishness, slothfulness and to some extent ambition ( We already have enough brain surgeons so we need you to be a sanitation engineer for the good of the people ). In most cases where Socialism/Communism was the goal Totalitarianism was the result. That's probably why the two are usually thought of as one in the same. While I think we can do better than what we have now we really do have it pretty good compared to societies throughout our history.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518072)

You couldn't be more wrong.

A)Socialism/Communism
Not comparable, not the same thing, and don't belong link together like that.

B) "In practice it would require that the society in question be bereft of ..."
No, it wouldn't.

You need to learn the difference between social policy and economic policy. You can have a free market and socialism.

You need to read up some more so you get past "Mount stupid":
http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2475 [smbc-comics.com]

Re:Tower of Babel (5, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517876)

The Monkey Theory comes into play here, in an indirect fashion. People can only remember so many facts, figures, names and slogans. Some of the smaller minded people in incapable of separating socialism from communism, and they can't go any further afield into the political spectrum to find terms that might fit their ideas. Assuming, of course, that they have any ideas that need to be articulated.

Re:Tower of Babel (2)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517328)

One could make a weak argument that it was Marxist. Of course, the Marxist interpretation would probably differ greatly from the mainstream interpretation: a utopian society, living in a state of peace and egalitarianism, is caused to splinter, because God fears the accomplishments capable of this society that has no need of him. In fact, you could even use that same exact sentence as the Objectivist interpretation. Hey, I should publish this! I bet you could bend it into half a dozen interpretations without changing a word.

But, no, it's definitely not socialist. There's nothing in that story about workers owning the means of production.

Re:Tower of Babel (0)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517546)

Considering that Adolph Hitler was a member of the Communist Party in the Bavarian Soviet Socialist Republic [wikipedia.org] , I think the ties to socialism are a fair bit closer than you might think. Certainly at heart he was a socialist even if his methods may have been a bit extreme.

Then again, other socialist groups have sought totalitarian ideals as well. Just look at North Korea for how wonderful socialism seems to be working out.

Re:Tower of Babel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517604)

So what you're saying is that capitalism should be seen in a worse light if I join the Objectivist Party then go on a raping spree?

Re:Tower of Babel (3, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517612)

Sigh... This old canard again. The Nazis were most certainly socialists, and Hitler certainly espoused a socialist doctrine, but in reality he was simply pursuing power. He aligned himself with the socialist wing of the National Socialists right up until it became clear that he would need to cozy up to the industrialist and aristocratic classes in German society, and it is they that essentially decided to back Hitler as Chancellor.

At any rate, whatever meaningful socialism there was in Hitler or in Nazism was wiped out Rohm was executed during the Night of the Long Knives.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517808)

Au CARtraire...

We did get the People's Vagen out of it. You can get a new one for about $20K-$60K.

Re:Tower of Babel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517940)

Hitler was one of the leaders of a soldiers' soviet, but he was never a member of the Communist Party. Or do you have evidence to the contrary?

Re:Tower of Babel (2)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518018)

That's not socialism [wikipedia.org] . You're describing a totalitarian state.

The Soviet Union was called the Union of Soviet "Socialist" Republics or USSR for short. From their perspective they were socialist and they were a totalitarian state when Stalin was in power. Hitler was the Chancellor of the Germany representing the National Socialist Worker Party (NAZI) and his regime was also a totalitarian state. Totalitarianism is neither left or right because totalitarianism is about "social" control rather than "economic" control. You can have "right wing" totalitarian regimes but the majority have been left or left of centre. The Nazis were never right of centre let alone "far right" even if you compare them to their counterparts of their day. They were "LEFT" of the conservatives in england and had more in common economically with the socialists there.

The british socialists have always been a lot less libertarian than socialists in some other countries which is why Tony Blair accelerated things like the CCTV installations in london.

Re:Tower of Babel (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517174)

The story is nonsense. By the time the ziggurat was built, pretty much all the language families known today were already in existence. The breaking up of languages very likely happened in Africa tens of thousands of years before the first mud bricks that were used to construct the Ziggurat were formed.

And no, it's not socialism, not in any meaningful sense of the word. It was, as another poster pointed out, a dictatorship, or more properly an absolute monarchy. It would be like calling the government of Louis XIV a socialist government.

Re:Tower of Babel (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517292)

And no, it's not socialism, not in any meaningful sense of the word. It was, as another poster pointed out, a dictatorship, or more properly an absolute monarchy. It would be like calling the government of Louis XIV a socialist government.

To right-wing nutballs, anything they don't like is socialism. How do they know it's socialism? Because they don't like socialism, and so if there's something they don't like, socialism is what it must be!

Any attempt to point out the flaws in this line of reasoning is, of course, socialist propaganda.

Re:Tower of Babel (3, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517386)

Wow. thanks for distilling the essence of the right-wing.

Not. Go call Bill Maher and ask him for a more insightful analysis, as even that would indeed be more insightful.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517672)

Yep, bald sarcasm sure is funny. It sure doesn't need any context highlighting the problem, just being sarcastic puts opponents in their place straight out. Game, set, match.

Re:Tower of Babel (4, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517338)

Well, you know how it is. Look at how many people call Nazi Germany "socialist" just because the word "Socialist" is in the name, but people do it all the time. It is about as stupid as calling The Democratic People's Republic of Korea a democracy or a republic.

Hell, the sheer number of people that equate socialism and fascism, let alone socialism and communism, or socialism and a social democracy...it's all ridiculous. Ignorance is our greatest threat in this nation, not terrorism.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517540)

Didn't fascism involve socializing all of the industry?

Nazism too?

Re:Tower of Babel (3, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517810)

The industrialists still got rich under the Nazi government. Whatever the Nazi party line in the 1920s and early 1930s might be, when Hitler got into power, he understood very well that he needed to get the industrialists and aristocrats on board. And as I mentioned elsewhere, any meaningfully socialist elements of the Nazi party were eliminated during the Night of the Long Knives; in particular the leader of the SA and one of Hitler's most important early allies; Ernst Rohm.

Re:Tower of Babel (2)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517832)

No, it didn't. At least Naziism, I don't know what Mussolini did as well. Hitler was an ardent supporter of mercantilism and believed in using government power to facilitate the maximizing of profits. He also believed in seizing assets from those he believed were unworthy, like Jewish businessmen. Those assets were then sold to companies that supported the Nazi party. It was a method for consolidating power within a group of elites. They did, however, trumpet their supposed socialism in poor neighborhoods hit hardest by the great depression(at least in the early thirties). It's hard to look at Naziism as anything other than the most well organized dickishness in human history.

Re:Tower of Babel (0)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517828)

Nazi Germany was socialist. Among the NSDAP programs were a right to employment, abolishing of unearned income, nationalization of trusts, corporate profit-sharing, abolishing of land speculation, nationalized higher education, outlawing militias (and de facto the right to bear arms) and old-age welfare.

Re:Tower of Babel (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517436)

The story is nonsense. By the time the ziggurat was built, pretty much all the language families known today were already in existence.

A large group of humans all cooperated (with a common language to facilitate) to build a tower several miles tall to reach the heavens, which angered a god so much that with a swipe of his hand he scattered the humans across the world and made them all speak in different languages.

And the reason that story is nonsense is because by the time some large Mesopotamian structures were built, humans were already speaking different languages?

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517860)

There's a mammal that has a duck bill and lays eggs. There's also a single-celled animal that uses photosynthesis. And the United States, which if you believe the media is the most racist and intolerant nation in the world, has a black President. Anything's possible.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518108)

"And the United States, which if you believe the media is the most racist and intolerant nation in the world, has a black President."

Is that so? Maybe he's white. How can you tell?

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518128)

"Anything's possible."
no, no it's not. Many thing are impossible.
Note what doesn't work and move on.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518086)

The story is nonsense. By the time the ziggurat was built, pretty much all the language families known today were already in existence.

No one is saying the existence of the temple that formed the basis of the story of the Tower of Babel lends any credibility to the rest of the story. That's sort of like saying "Well, Jerusalem actually existed--which lends evidence to the claim that Jesus was the Son of God." Many of the sites, people, and events mentioned in the Bible really existed, or at least had some basis in historical fact. That doesn't mean that everything else in the Bible must therefore be true too.

Re:Tower of Babel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517184)

Socialism is worker control of the means of production. The Bible's Tower of Babel story is myth.

Whatever your hobby horse is, you're not riding it very well.

captcha: brayed. Excellent.

Re:Tower of Babel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517916)

All the stories in the Bible are myths, and most were most likely borrowed from other cultures in the area.

Re:Tower of Babel (2, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517244)

Not quite. If I remember correctly, God dropped by to check out the tower (various unnamed parties were worried it would actually reach heaven), and found a woman performing manual labor while her baby was unattended. Something like that. Which pissed him off.

Something of a hidden message which states humanity has to deal with its social / welfare issues before trying to reach the stars. Or technology is evil; hard to tell after that garden story. Possibly, anyways. I've found trying to gather understanding from this book to be on par with examining the liver of some poor animal for 'signs' or trying to read tea leaves. If I ever open a practice of psychiatry for the biblically-minded, I'm going to use that book instead of an ink-blot -> "So, what do you think the Bible was trying to tell you this week? Uh huh, that's nice. And how did that make you feel?" However, I never will. Having seen what religion of any sort has done to the minds of mankind, I cannot believe that my tinkering with it would help.

Re:Tower of Babel (3, Informative)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517434)

Need to do a bit more reading, my friend. The account doesn't have anything to do with women performing manual labor:

"(The Babylonians) said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

5But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

8So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9That is why it was called Babelc—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth."

So, it had nothing to do with labor practices. Many scholars think the tower was some sort of astrological artifact, and that the scrambling of the languages had to do with dispersing the population of the earth. That is, according to the scripture.

Re:Tower of Babel (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517568)

Who are these many "scholars"?

Real scholars will tell you that this is a myth and the division of human languages had far more to do with our spread out of Africa than anything else.

Re:Tower of Babel (2)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517702)

Are those the same scholars that told you the account was a women's right issue?

Re:Tower of Babel (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517734)

I have never heard of such a tale until another poster made that claim.

I did not make such a claim. Perhaps you should learn to read a little better. I suggest starting with some non-fiction works since you seem to already be quite versed with fiction.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517902)

Scholars, as in those performing an analysis of the text with respect to its social, rather than historical value. Not all scientists reading ancient texts are rabid atheist anthropologists looking for any evidence to tear down the world's belief systems.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518050)

So pointing out something is a myth is rabid atheism in this case, but anyone would say the same thing about Zeus.

You don't need evidence to tear down such things, they have none to support it.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518076)

Scholars treat ancient texts with care. You can gleam a good deal about an ancient society even from the more fanciful and mythical writings. Take for instance the Vedas. Scholars have used them to do at least some reconstruction of ancient Indo-Aryan civilization; it's beliefs, social structure and economy, and just as importantly to extrapolate further and get some hints of the Indo-European progenitor society. Even the language of the texts; Vedic Sanskrit, was the first major inspiration that lead to formulation of the field of Indo-European linguistics.

So yes, you're right. Scholars look at ancient texts in various ways, and even where elements of the texts are fantastical, they can illuminate a considerable amount about the culture that developed them. But that doesn't mean scholars believe in Zeus, Vishnu or Yahweh.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517250)

ToB is a story of humanity's first venture down the road of socialism, where all of humanity fell under the rule of a single dictator.

Based on that sentence, I'd say it's a fair bet that you don't even know what the fuck Socialism is...

Quick someone call apple's lawers (5, Funny)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516934)

That tablet has a glossy black surface and rounded corners

Re:Quick someone call apple's lawers (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517758)

That tablet has a glossy black surface and rounded corners

No, that's what I would call very prior art.

Re:Quick someone call apple's lawers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38518120)

You joke, but the Rosetta Stone image now belongs to a language training company of the same name, who's package is little more than pick an image from what you hear, repeat ad-nauseum. It only predates their software by, what, 2200 years, and they clearly copied the original's shape for their own logo. USA FTW!

So the show was true... (1)

WickedLilMonkies (1285120) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516948)

"...and even cylcon symbols by Australia's Aborigines which can be up to 20,000 years old."

Holy crap ... I had no idea BSG was a documentary!

Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (5, Insightful)

brit74 (831798) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516950)

"Babylon was a cultural leader in astronomy, mathematics, literature and medicine. It's also interesting to note the somewhat recent Slashdot article linking the common ancestry of languages to this area."

From the other article:

The relationship that emerges suggests the actual point of origin is in central or southern Africa, and that all modern languages do, indeed, have a common root."

Dear Slashdot editors: Do you know where Babylon and Central/Southern Africa are?

I'd also bet money that the timeline is also completely wrong. Babylon existed a few thousand years ago. The origin of language is much, much older.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517094)

This article is pretty blood suspicious. First of all, it isn't the Tower of Babel, it's the ziggurat of Babylon. The Babel story may indeed reference the ziggurat of Babylon, or not, but no serious scholar goes around calling it the Tower of Babel.

The origin of language nonsense reveals that this is clearly the creation of some Biblical literalist. The breaking of the tongues story from Genesis is myth. No linguist has seriously believed it in well over two hundred years, and pretty much everyone accepts that humans developed full language in Africa. The language Nebuchadnezzar spoke; Akkadian, was an Afro-Asiatic language, and those languages likely developed either in the Arabian Peninsula or in East Africa, most certainly not in Mesopotamia.

Come on Slashdot editors. What's next, an article about humans and dinosaurs living together, or Biblical Flood confirmation stories? Is this the low that the post-Taco era is going to sink to?

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517264)

What's next, an article about humans and dinosaurs living together

Nah, Slashdot's always late. They won't post that story until dinosaurs actually do go extinct. (Birds: Class Aves, Branch:Avialae. Order: Saurischia Superorder:Dinosauria Yes, "Dinosauria" means exactly what you should think it does. Source [wikipedia.org] BTW)

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (1, Troll)

Ziekheid (1427027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517290)

Well, look at who wrote the summary, his nick is smitty777. 777 is, for a lot of Christians, a meaningful number as in the opposite of 666, it's the number closest to their God.
Coincidence? Maybe, but in combination with the false summary I'd say chances are pretty big smitty777 has his own agenda when posting this Christian propaganda.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517420)

1) 666 is the number of man, short of perfection, which would be 777.

2) I completely missed the Christian propoganda. Could you explain it to me pleeze? I b confuzed.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (1)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517590)

Good catch by GP: 777 [wikipedia.org] . I think he's onto something because it reminded of the significance of 7 [wikipedia.org] in my youthful church days. It would seem 777 is a natural contrast to 666.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517700)

The reference to the Tower of Babel and the whole origin of language line gives it away. Can you think of anyone besides of Christian Biblical literalist (except maybe a Muslim literalist or, if they exist in any quantity, a Jewish literalist) who would call an image of a ziggurat on a steal the "tower of Babel" or who would suggest that this is where languages came from immediately afterwards.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (2)

SmurfButcher Bob (313810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517968)

Wouldn't that be 668, the neighbor of the beast? Or 667, the guy who lives across the street from the beast, or perhaps even 666B, the guy who lives in the apartment loft above the beast (no doubt against local zoning law)? Seems that all of those would fit the condition of "closer".

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (1, Funny)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517594)

I don't know if it is "Christian propaganda" or not, but how the hell is it "News for Nerds, Stuff That Matters"? I mean, is it made of Legos, does it run Linux, or at the very least, is SCO or the RIAA suing them?

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517664)

You got me dude...you've uncovered a vast conspiracy between me and that hotbed of right wing propaganda - The Discovery Channel! BTW, if you had managed to read the article, they also allude to this reference as well. Because it's relevant.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517904)

If that's the case, then you're completely wrong.....the Tower of Babel depicted in the Bible is at 1500BCE at the absolute latest. The one in this Slashdot article was built ~600BCE.

IF this is the Tower of Babel mentioned in the bible, it basically proves that the bible is wrong.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517986)

I think you're making a logical leap that is unfounded. It could be that either the king is taking credit for something that was already built, or that the scholars are wrong about it being the original tower. I do agree with you about the timing of the original tower, though.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (5, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517756)

Biblical literalist? Hardly. Nebuchadnezzar had nothing to do with the Tower of Babel, and it's clear the author has only passing knowledge of either bible story. The article manages to completely mangle both philology and biblical theology. It's stupid enough for everyone to hate.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (1, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517274)

There was one single common language that could be understood by all the human beings. All the present day languages are off shoots of that language. That much is true, and scientifically proven. And that seems to agree with the Tower of Babel myth.

But that common language existed between 75K and 100K years ago, at that time there were probably 2500 human beings in the world, and the place was eastern Africa. The language had lots of click sounds, and its closest extant remnants are the Andamanese spoken in the islands of Bay of Bengal and by the Koi-san people of the Kalahari desert in Africa. The click sounds were the first ones to be lost as languages evolved. More evolved languages (like Tamil) have fewer phonemes than less evolved more primordial languages (like Sanskrit). The languages latest on the scene, the languages of pacific islands and micronesia have as few as 12 consonants.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517368)

Nobody actually knows any of that for sure. It is not generally accepted, it is conjecture, and as no linguistic link has been made between the "click" languages of southern Africa and any other language outside of the region, this is what most linguists would call a flight of fancy. We're talking about a discipline that largely rejects Nostratic due to insufficient evidence, so I don't think you'll find many linguists who would accept your account, and any linguist who did would be at the very margins of the discipline.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517490)

I'd like to add that nobody is quite sure if there was a mother tongue. The neural hardware for language may have existed for a considerable length of time prior to the first fully-formed languages, so you could have had different H. sapiens populations moving from proto-language to full language independently. If there was a single mother tongue, nobody knows what it sounded like.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518008)

Of all the different languages spoken by man around the world, I would say there are at least two words that come the closets to sounding universal. Mamma and Daddy. It should come to no surprise that these are among the first two words a baby learns when growing up. The most important no doubt.

Ya, I was kinda blown away by that little discovery myself.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518132)

My understanding is that linguists consider these examples of false cognates. They do not represent surviving words from the progenitor language, but rather are due to the fact that they tend to be the simplest sounds a young child can produce. Largely because it seems highly unlikely that just two cognates survive from the mother tongue, and not more.

Re:Babylon is in Central/Southern Africa? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38518038)

Wow, a posting in which every single claim is false. (I am a linguist.) There's no evidence that there was ever a single common language which is the source of all present day languages. Scientific hypotheses do not get "scientifically proven" (there's only falsification, kids, not "proof"). The dating (75K-100K years ago) is just pulled out of someone's ass, the population numbers for that period don't match anything I've ever seen and would appear to also be made up. Since we don't know that there was this "original language", it's properties can hardly be known (phonemic make-up, whether it had 'clicks' or not). The claims about Khoisan and Andamenese are laughable on their face (if the languages existed 75K years ago, and all modern languages are "daughters" of this original language, aren't they all equally "close" "extant remnants"? like 75K years close?, of course you could claim that some languages have changed more than others, but that would entail that language change is not a constant --- probably true, by the way --- but would, unfortunately for the author, likewise entail that you can't date how long ago the languages were spoken; only the assumption of a constant rate of change could let you do that). If the "clicks sounds were the first ones to be lost as languages evolved" why are they still there in some languages? There is no such concept as "more evolved" and "less evolved" languages. Sanskrit has fewer phonemes than Tamil. The languages of Micronesia have large phoneme inventories, not small ones as asserted here.

Jeesh. Read a fucking book or something.

Tower of Babel (5, Insightful)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517176)

It's funny how much the Tower of Babel looks like every other ziggurat (tell) ever dug up in the Middle East. Oh wait....

When the fuck will people grow up and realize that not every city unearthed with breached walls is Jericho, not every cross dug up is the True Cross, not every Roman spear is the Dolourous Lance, not every Babylonian leader is King Nebuchadnezzar, and not every old cup is the Holy Grail? It's awesome enough that there is an old Babylonian cuneiform tablet without it also fitting into Biblical narrative.

Re:Tower of Babel (3, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517222)

The submitter is an idiot. The whole "origin of language" bit demonstrates that well enough. WTF is wrong with Slashdot editors?

Ah well, I remember a time when every conman selling a perpetual motion machine could get a submission here, so maybe things haven't changed that much. Maybe next week we'll have an article on Noah's Ark being found, that would be about right if this is the standard.

Re:Tower of Babel (0)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517380)

I remember a time when every conman selling a perpetual motion machine could get a submission here

lol I remember that, anyone who had an idea for a new energy source ended up on slashdot, especially if they were looking for VC funding. Nevermind that their ideas were often trivially shown to be unworkable.....

Re:Tower of Babel (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517394)

I would like to purchase one of your perpetual motion machines.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518004)

Slashdot had plenty of articles on Atlantis being found too. Slightly different, since the records of its existence is are a little more recent and a little more reliable, but just as hyperbolic and inflaming.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517322)

You forgot one of the most popular of all: Not every boat-shaped feature on a mountain is the ruin of Noah's Ark.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517388)

I thought about adding something to that effect, but I like the way you wrote it better than I was able to frame the statement.

Re:Tower of Babel (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517340)

tablet

Since we're on the topic of tablets. iPad sucks! :)

agreed. (-1, Troll)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517638)

get this crap out of my slashdot. not news for nerds, and arguably since it includes no geological or archaeological data it is not "stuff that matters."

Re:Tower of Babel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517682)

While the origin of languages thing is clearly out of place, the tablet itself apparently refers to it as "the Great Ziggurat of Babel." That's an easy step to the biblical Tower of Babel. It was apparently 7 stories and almost 300-feet tall. The article also claims Nebby wrote something about this:

"I made it the wonder of the people of the world, I raised its top to the heaven, made doors for the gates, and I covered it with bitumen and bricks," the inscription reads in the translation by professor George.

So, it seems like a pretty safe bet that the Tower of Babel in the Bible and this depiction could refer to the same structure.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517812)

If the tower of Babel story equates to a Babylonian tower, it would seem that suggests that the book of Genesis, which presents itself as having been written thousands of years before Babylon, actually dates to the era of Babylon (or perhaps parts of Genesis actually are older, but someone 'inserted' the Tower of Babel story much later)?

Re:Tower of Babel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517746)

When the **** will people grow up and realize that not every city unearthed with breached walls is Jericho, not every cross dug up is the True Cross, not every Roman spear is the Dolourous Lance, not every Babylonian leader is King Nebuchadnezzar, and not every old cup is the Holy Grail? It's awesome enough that there is an old Babylonian cuneiform tablet without it also fitting into Biblical narrative.

Dude, this is Slashdot. A culture that never ceases to rail against folks (especially religious people) by stating wildly speculative statements as "fact". Is it really a "fact" that the Tower of Babel never existed? If so, how would you prove it? Is it really a "fact" that the great flood never happened? If so, how would you prove it? Is it a "fact" that a deity doesnt exist? If so, how would you prove it? The crux of science is that you can only prove positives, never negatives. Unfortunately true science is really a part of Slashdot either.

If you're looking for reasonable rational thought processes, then you are at the wrong website.

Re:Tower of Babel (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517932)

The tower of Babel could refer to any of the ziggurats of Mesopotamia, and it's never been determined that it refers to the ziggurat of Babylon, or to another one, or is really not referencing any one in particular. The Book of Genesis never tells us, and it's later interpreters who associated it with the ziggurat of Babylon. By your logic, you can't say it doesn't refer to the Penis of Marduk.

And a global flood never happened. Never. Not once. Not ever. The flood as described in Genesis is physically impossible, and there is not one iota of evidence for it. Maybe it refers to a regional flood in Mesopotamia (they're common enough, and certainly there have been really big ones), but the idea that there was a flood so great it covered the mountain tops was long ago rejected. It did not happen.

Space elevator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517218)

That was the ancient space elevator of the former advanced civilization as witnessed by some random nomad goat herder

Spinal Tap... (1)

sackbut (1922510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38517424)

Stonehenge! In ancient times... Hundreds of years before the dawn of history Lived a strange race of people... the Druids No one knows who they were or what they were doing But their legacy remains Hewn into the living rock... Of Stonehenge Stonehenge! Where the demons dwell Where the banshees live and they do live well Stonehenge! Where a man's a man And the children dance to the Pipes of Pan ....

Depicction of the Tower Of Babel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517862)

Snow, cement and ivory young towers
Someone called us Babylon
Those hungry hunters
Tracking down the hours
But where were all your shoulders when we cried
Were the darlings on the sideline
Dreaming up such cherished lies
To whisper in your ear before you die

It's party time for the guys in the tower of Babel
Sodom meet Gomorrah, Cain meet Abel
Have a ball y'all
See the letches crawl
With the call girls under the table
Watch them dig their graves
`Cause Jesus don't save the guys
In the tower of Babel

Dear Christians and Jews... (0)

Annorax (242484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518150)

Just a note that claiming that this is any evidence to back-up the validity of the bible and Torrah. It would be an appeal to antiquity logical fallacy to make that claim.

This is just evidence that the story of the Tower of Babel is a very old story. Nothing more.

Nothing to see here, theists.

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