Step 4 of 5

What do you say?

When you make an inscription, you pick your words carefully, saying only what needs to be said. We start reading at the top, and move in columns from right to left. This is how the text begins:

I am Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, provisioner of the Esangil and Ezida temples, son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon. For Shamash, the lord who lengthens my days, I newly built the Ebabbar temple, the house of Shamash which is in Sippar.

In just two sentences, everything has been said. Nebuchadnezzar tells us he is a king who fulfills his religious duty by keeping the temples up and running, and he is not what they call in Akkadian a mar la mamman, a ‘son of a nobody’ on the throne. Then he tells us what’s new: he rebuilt a temple of the sun god in the city of Sippar.If you want to know more about the relationship between kings and temples, a good chapter is C. Waerzeggers, 2011, ‘The Pious King: Royal Patronage of Temples’ in The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture, edited by K. Radner and E. Robson, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 725–751.

But this text isn’t just a record of building activity. It has a more spiritual side, too. Go to the next step to read the rest of what the king has to say.