According to information in the The Dead Sea Scrolls (see our article on this site), Nabonidus was the last great king of the Babylonian Empire. Babylon was in its renewal stage, a period of Arabian history also called the neo-Babylonian Period. During this stage Babylon was modernising its culture and as a result there was an introduction of a more liberal system where rulers lost their enthusiasm for the Empire and a subsequent lack of interest in the traditional form of government.
Archaeologist verses Administrator?
Nabonidus, as King of Babylon, paid little attention to the politics, religion, or affairs of Imperial Babylon preferring instead to travel and research the older buildings, temples, and objects of antiquity that lay in the outer most parts of his Empire. For this reason he is included in archaeology’s ‘hall of fame’ because his abandonment of his royal duties were in favour of some of the first archaeological investigations.
Feasting and Drinking
According to ancient Arab sources Nabonidus was the father of Belshazzar, who stood in as temporary ruler whenever his father was away exploring and digging up the sands of Arabia. The Hebrew Tanach records that Belshazzar and other Babylonian nobles were feasting and drinking at the palace in his father’s absence, from the looted golden booty stolen from the temple in Jerusalem, when they were required to translate an unknown script, hand-written on the wall.
The Fall of Babylon
In Aramaic the script read, “mene, mene, tekel, parsin” and only the Hebrew, Daniel, was able to translate its literal meaning of “number, weigh, divided”. Daniel’s interpretation of this was, “The empire is numbered, you have been weighed, the kingdom will be divided”. This came to pass shortly thereafter when the Persians, under King Cyrus the Great, effortlessly conquered Babylon while Belshazzar was in charge.
Hearing of the impending attack, Nabonidus made haste to return to his capital only to find it in the hands of the Persians. Fortunately for Nabonidus, the Persian King was a merciful ruler and spared the lives of the nobles whom he had defeated. This characteristic won Cyrus favour with the peoples as a liberator from tyranny.
Worship of the Crescent Moon-God
Nabonidus ruled Babylon for 17 years until its fall in 539 BC. Although he was a neo-revisionist he still adhered to the time-honoured sacred rites of venerating celestial bodies as gods. Archaeologists have discovered a stone-carved relief depicting Nabonidus praying to the sun, Venus, and the moon-god, Allah.
The moon-god is depicted in artefacts as a crescent moon and later cultures included the addition of a star inside the crescent. Everywhere in the ancient world, archaeologists discover symbols of the crescent moon on steles, clay tablets, pottery items, amulets, seal impressions and cylinder seals themselves, official measuring weights, wall paintings, and jewellery. In ancient Babylon, the stele of Ur-Nammu has the moon-god crescent at the top of the list of gods as it was the most important.
Ur (ancient Babylon) has several examples of moon-god worship. More portable objects have been removed from their sites and are held by the British Museum in the Babylonian Room. Many small statues have been excavated and identified by inscriptions found on them as ‘daughters’ of the moon-god. Archaeologists working in modern Iraq have discovered and recorded thousands of inscriptions on walls and rocks indicating that Allah, the moon-god was regarded as the ruler of the gods at the time of Nabonidus’ reign. Archaeological evidence is overwhelming that the Allah of Islam is directly descended from the ancient moon-god deity represented in rock and picture by a crescent moon.
A cuneiform clay cylinder, discovered at the ancient temple of Shamash, records the efforts of King Nabonidus in reconstructing the moon-god temples in opposition to the existing gods.
The doom of King Nabonidus, his Empire, and the end of Babylon the Great was an inevitable certainty given his negligent disregard for matters of royal necessity. His personal diversion into archaeology may have felled his empire but his efforts have left no lasting scientific benefits for students of archaeology today. The fateful end of Nabonidus remains mistily unknown. Some speculate that he perished as a prisoner in the year after he lost his kingdom.