Archaeologists say they now know what the Tower of Babel looked like during the days of biblical king Nabuchadnezzar.

Dr Wilfrid Allinger-Csollich of Austria's University of Innsbruck says the evidence was collected during 20 years of excavations at Borsippa, Iraq - the site of the best preserved Mesopotamian tower.

Borsippa, 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Baghdad, was elegantly refurbished by Nabuchadnezzar in the sixth century B-C as a copy of the Tower of Babel, and is now revealing the secrets of its destroyed inspiration.

The ruins of a tower in the Iraqi desert may hold the secrets to the size and shape of the Bible's Tower of Babel.

The Tower of Babel was the construction that, according to the Bible, was erected by the descendants of Noah, in an attempt to unite all peoples by building a city and tower that would reach to heaven.

The legend says that their God thwarted their efforts because he saw the move as arrogant.

He is said to have scattered the people - and turned their one language into many.

The story is seen as an attempt to explain the origin of the languages of the world.

Built by King Nabuchadnezzar, the ziqqurat, or temple tower, in Borsippa, has been found to be have been constructed on the same designs of that of the more famous tower in Babylon.

While very little remains of the Tower of Babel, the bulk of Borsippa's ziqqurat is still there, and Austrian archaeologists have been able to piece together a full picture of the Biblical tower.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
"There were many ziqqurats all over Babylonia or Mesopotamia and this ziqqurat had it's largest dimensions in the first millennium under Nabuchadnezzar."
SUPER CAPTION: Professor Helga Trenkwalder

SOUNDBITE: (English)
"The conclusion maybe that from the detailed studies here in Bosippa, we can say what were the dimensions of the tower of Babylon. We know the height of every stage and we are able to conclude and to say the size of the whole tower."
SUPER CAPTION: Dr Wilfrid Alliger-Csollich

Texts found on the side of the tower quotes Nabuchadnezzar as declaring that the tower should reach the skies and be similar to the one he had already erected in Babylon for the supreme Mesopotamian god, Mardukh.

The Austrians said they needed 20 years of work to determine the exact dimensions of Borsippa tower.

The Austrians have also determined the tower had three staircases and they are in the process of counting how many steps each had.

Their picture of outer structure is almost complete.

The first two stages were covered with bitumen and were black.

The third, fourth and fifth were decorated with blue glazed bricks and possibly adorned with mythical animals - lions and dragons.

The Austrian discovery is good news for Iraqis, who this month held an international symposium to discuss the Tower of Babel.

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