“Babble On, Babylon” is a weblog for the reader with more than just your average amount of interests.
Now the entire earth was of one language and uniform words. And it came to pass when they traveled from the east, that they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and fire them thoroughly”; so the bricks were to them for stones, and the clay was to them for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered upon the face of the entire earth”. And the Lord descended to see the city and the tower that the sons of man had built. And The LORD said, “Lo! [they are] one people, and they all have one language, and this is what they have commenced to do. Now, will it not be withheld from them, all that they have planned to do? Come, let us descend and confuse their language, so that one will not understand the language of his companion”. And the Lord scattered them from there upon the face of the entire earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore, He named it Babel, for there the Lord confused the language of the entire earth, and from there the Lord scattered them upon the face of the entire earth.
The name “Babylon” is from the Akkadian Bāb-ilu, which means Gate of the Gods. This correctly summarizes the religious purpose of the great temple towers (the ziggurats) of ancient Sumer (Biblical Shinar in modern southern Iraq). These huge, squared-off stepped temples were intended as gateways for the gods to come to earth, literal stairways to heaven. (“Reaching heaven” is a common description in temple tower inscriptions.) This is the type of structure referred to in the Biblical narrative. The common conical depictions of the tower (as shown here) come from much later Muslim towers observed by 19th century explorers in the area.