Length: 24.440 cm
Diameter: 11.430 cm
Room 55: Mesopotamia
Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II
Neo-Babylonian dynasty, about 604-562 BC
From Babylon, southern Iraq
The King's palaces described
This clay cylinder was found in the ruins of the city of Babylon. The cuneiform text describes the three palaces which Nebuchadnezzar II (reigned 604-562 BC) built for himself in Babylon. The first palace was a rebuilding of the palace used by his father Nabopolassar (reigned 625-605 BC), which Nebuchadnezzar says had become dilapidated. When he had finished, he decided that it was not grand enough, so he built himself a new palace on the northern edge of Babylon. This palace had a blue parapet and was surrounded by massive fortification walls.
Later Nebuchadnezzar erected new city walls around the east side of Babylon, and built himself a third palace next to the River Euphrates. This is known today as his 'summer' palace, as it had ventilation shafts of a type still used today for cooling houses in the Near East. All three palaces were built of baked brick and bitumen, with roofs and doors constructed from fine imported timbers, cedar, cypress and fir.
Cylinders of this type were buried in the corners of all large buildings by Nebuchadnezzar and his successors. They were meant to be found and read by future kings whenever the buildings had to be repaired.
J. Oates, Babylon-1 (London, Thames and Hudson, 1979)