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Babylon, Louvre Museum, Paris

Extirpated for centuries, Babylon was a myth. Rediscovering the twentieth century, it is now a military camp in Iraq. The Louvre in Paris, traces its multiple lights.
"With it the kings of the earth were prostitutes and inhabitants of the earth have drunk the wine of its prostitution (…) on his forehead was inscribed a mysterious name: Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and abominations of the earth . "The Apocalypse, in his seventeenth verse, has quickly made a spell in the big city of the mythical ancient Mesopotamia, or the current Iraq, first raised some twenty-four centuries before Jesus Christ within the 'Akkadian empire. Mythical because, for centuries, will retain traces of it only through stories and legends. The city itself has disappeared and it was not until the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that the excavations will return to some of its truth. The vast Louvre exhibition evokes the history of Babylon in the first place, but also its multiple paths in the imagination, even in the collective fantasies. Thus the text of the Apocalypse cited above, shows he is one of the planks of the Apocalypse, Dürer in the fifteenth century. The prostitute sits on a beast with seven heads, brandishing a cup of abominations, which is a magnificent piece of goldsmith. The seven heads of the beast refer to the seven hills of Rome, the papal city which would proponents of reform betrayed the message of the Gospel. Babylon here is the support of a political and religious message in the current time. Babylon, is still the tower of Babel, and it is a pleasure to find the exhibition in the famous painting by Bruegel the Elder, and the astonishing heights it raises by the enormity of this crazy construction, surpassing clouds. That's Genesis, this time, which illustrates the performance. "Of all the earth, there was only one language and we used the same words. "Then the men had wanted to build a city and a tower that would touch the sky. But now that the company would have displeased God: "If they start together, nothing will prevent perform all their businesses. Come on, down to the confusion in their language, so they understand each other more with each other. "The unfinished city took the name of Babel and this is where the Lord scattered men" across the face of the earth. " The tower, designated as a symbol of the claim of men wanting to be the equal of God, have been in the real Babylon, the tower Etemenanki, "house that is the foundation of heaven and earth" sanctuary of the god Marduk. It would have reached, it seems, quite phenomenal height of 90 meters, its summit, a temple decorated with two horns of gold. That is what this tower distance should be visible and it must try to imagine what it should inspire feelings. The tower joins in the imaginary city prostitute. It is the place cursed a challenge to God Himself. It is a totally instrumentalized Babylon who will cross the time Christians and history. With a few reservations. For the table Bruegel responsible, in the same order of men who crosses all the work of Flemish painter, evokes far more wealth of human activity that the curse to come. In the Age of Enlightenment readings to be made of the myth of the Tower of Babel will go in this direction and the tower designed in this century by the visionary architect Pierre-Etienne Boullée in the years 1780, is a symbol of the Unity men, a monument humanist. Babylon was still hanging gardens of Semiramis. The real history of Babylon, it is much earlier. The city becomes a real power with the reign of Hammurabi, in the eighteenth century BC, which subjects the kingdoms that surround it and makes the city the true political and religious capital of Mesopotamia. For centuries, Babylon and the kingdom will be, however, beset by revolts, the attacks peoples enemies, the Hittites and Kassites, who will reign for a period before the Assyrians there to take their turn power, then the Elamites, again the Assyrians, and so on. Babylon will be a new peak with the Chaldeans and Nebuchadnezzar II, who reigned from 605 to 562 and founded the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It was under his reign was allegedly built a wall 25 meters around the city according to Herodotus. More modest actually. The city will then be submitted by the king of the Persians, Cyrus II, then by Alexander the Great. It will also various episodes before disappearing literally tablets at the beginning of the Christian era. A French, Jules Oppert, began excavations in 1852 which remained superficial. The architect and archaeologist German Koldewey, who at the beginning of the twentieth century, dégagea major monuments and erected citymap, at least what remained. Saddam Hussein had initiated a controversial restoration of Babylon, who was trying to link the site to its past. Today, after hosting an American military base, Camp Alpha, it is occupied by Polish soldiers whose tanks and armoured plough a millennial history, while works have been rediscovered the path of trafficking in antiquities.

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