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Recent Discovery Contains Oldest Depiction of the Tower of Babel 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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Recent Discovery Contains Oldest Depiction of the Tower of Babel

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  • Re:Tower of Babel (Score:4, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @02:12PM (#38517222) Journal

    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.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @02:17PM (#38517274) Journal
    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:Tower of Babel (Score:4, Informative)

    by smitty777 ( 1612557 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @02:29PM (#38517434) Journal

    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 (Score:4, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @02:43PM (#38517612) Journal

    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 (Score:4, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @02:59PM (#38517810) Journal

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @03:18PM (#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.

  • Re:Tower of Babel (Score:5, Informative)

    by silentbrad ( 1488951 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @04:19PM (#38518716)
    You know that Canada is a Social Democracy, right? I can't remember hearing about any purges commited by my government. Nor do I think we're run by a totalitarian.
  • Re:Tower of Babel (Score:2, Informative)

    by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @06:37PM (#38520190)
    Just about ALL of the "evolution" I've seen in language lately is actually the poor translation to the written word from the sounds of words that people repeat without actually thinking. The result is usually the loss of clarity. The reduction in communication. Typical would be the inability of millions of people to distinguish between "loose" and "lose" when writing. Likewise when people lazily repeat a string a of syllables without actually thinking about what they mean, and end up saying the opposite of what they mean. A la, "I could care less" (when they mean exactly the opposite, and they've made the error out of laziness, not deliberate irony).

    We're not taking about differences like "the audience is rambunctious tonight" vs. "the audience are happy to be here," where the American vs. British difference in treating "the audience" as singular or plural marks different evolution in the usage but doesn't diminish the ability to convey clear meaning. No, most of the internet-facing crappy spelling and grammar these days marks an active disinterest in clear communication. And that marks a bunch of sleepy, lazy minds who assume it's always OK to make everyone else do the work of guessing and parsing and asking for clarification.
  • by Morty ( 32057 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @07:29PM (#38520742) Journal

    There is also no linguistic connection between the tower of "balal" (Hebrew) and the ziggaurat of "babili" (Akkadian).

    The Hebrew is not "balal", it's BBL (two "bet" characters followed by a "lamed".) Hebrew is normally written without most vowels, and ancient Hebrew was always written without most vowels; the "nikud" dot systems used to teach Hebrew vowels are no more than 1500 years old. I don't know where you got your Akkadian transliteration from. If your Akkadian is as bad as your Hebrew, it's worthless. But if your Akkadian source was better than your Hebrew source, then it's interesting that Hebrew BBL is quite close to "babili". If you were going to write "babili" in Hebrew, it would look either like "BBL" or BBLY" (the Hebrew yud character can double as a vowel.)

    And the linguistics are irrelevant, anyway. Hebrew BBL has long been considered a reference to Babylon. Even if the Hebrew and Akkadian place names were linguistically disparate, BBL would still have been an exonym referencing Babylon. Sort of like Japan vs. Nippon. A modern English article that describes a site in Japan is not incorrect or mythical just because the local name is "Nippon"/"Nihon" rather than "Japan". "BBL means "Babylon" just as "Japan" means "Nippon".

    [Disclaimer: I personally don't believe in the Bible. However, that doesn't change the fact that it is an interesting collection of ancient documents that reference other antiquities.]

  • Re:Tower of Babel (Score:5, Informative)

    by Miseph ( 979059 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @07:39PM (#38520834) Journal

    "socialism was exactly what we had there: state ownership of the means of production"

    One minor nit to pick... that's not socialism. Socialism has very little to do with who owns the means of production or capital. Socialism describes a system in which states provide varying levels of service and economic remuneration to citizens in lieu of markets. Communism is concerned with ownership of the means of production, and it is not the same thing; hence two different terms, if they were indeed identical in form and function, there would be no need to differentiate them.

    As for the correlation between "socialism" and totalitarianism... would you classify the Scandinavian states as particularly totalitarian? Most of Europe, really, is socialist to a greater or lesser extent. Most are pretty solidly non-totalitarian in comparison to a state like Singapore, which offers economic freedom virtually unmatched anywhere else. It's only a strong correlation if you choose to look only at data points which show that, ignoring all others.

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