People walk near the Ishtar Gate at the archaeological site of Babylon in Iraq. (AP)

People walk near the Ishtar Gate at the archaeological site of Babylon in Iraq. (AP)

An Iraqi soldier walks in front of the Ishtar Gate. (AP)

An Iraqi soldier walks in front of the Ishtar Gate. (AP)

People celebrate at the ruins of ancient Babylon, now named as a World Heritage Site. (AP)

People celebrate at the ruins of ancient Babylon, now named as a World Heritage Site. (AP)

Tourists stand near the Lion of Babylon. (AP)

Tourists stand near the Lion of Babylon. (AP)

Iraq argued for years for Babylon to become a World Heritage Site. (AP)

Iraq argued for years for Babylon to become a World Heritage Site. (AP)

Bringing Back Babylon

Posted: September 3, 2019

People throw a big celebration in Iraq. Why? Its city of Babylon is now a World Heritage Site.

That’s a big deal. Members of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) work to remind people of important places in history. They name remarkable places as World Heritage Sites. The UNESCO team just agreed: Babylon has a rich history. Its story must be told.

People from Iraq have been asking to have Babylon added to the World Heritage Site list for years. Babylon sits on the Euphrates River. It used to be a tourist attraction. It was known for its wealth and power. Sadly, now the 4,300-year-old city is crumbled. Its ruins—and two museums—tell the story of ancient history.

What’s the big deal about Babylon? People have lived there almost as long as civilization has existed. You might recognize this city as the place King Hammurabi wrote his code of laws. Or maybe you remember it as the city Nebuchadnezzar ruled. He held the Jews captive there for 70 years. Daniel survived the king’s lions’ den in Babylon. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were hurled into the fiery furnace there. Jeremiah 51:41 says Babylon was at one point “the praise of the whole Earth.” Some people think Alexander the Great died there too.

War threatened Babylon in Bible times. The city fell hard. And in the past four decades, war after war has scarred Babylon. The city has fallen again. The Islamic State group has also damaged other treasures of history in Iraq. The extremists hacked statues of giant winged bulls to pieces in the city of Nimrud. The bulls once stood at a nearly 3,000-year-old palace.

Iraqis are ready to lift fallen Babylon up again. They wave their national flag, celebrating their city as a World Heritage Site. Iraq’s leaders congratulate the Iraqi people on the announcement.

Babylon had an affect on the entire ancient world. Now it is having an affect on the people of Iraq. It has given them something to celebrate! Could Babylon’s history help bring it back to life?