While the Cyrus Cylinder has been making its rounds on an international exhibition circuit,a another cylinder of a famous Mesopotamian emperor has recently been brought to the public eye. One of Nebuchadnezzar’s cuneiform cylinders was auctioned off on April 9, 2014, by Doyle New York, Auctioneers and Appraisers for $605,000. The purchaser of the cylinder has requested to remain anonymous. Unfortunately, his anonymity may make it difficult for further scholarly study of the text.
BAR readers are familiar with the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (technically, the neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II), who infamously destroyed the First Temple and carried the Judahites in exile to Babylon. In the Book of Daniel, the Jewish seer Daniel interprets the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2; 4:1–27), and it is this same Nebuchadnezzar who throws Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow to the golden statue that he set up (Daniel 3).
The 8.25-by-3.25-inch cylinder that was recently auctioned details how Nebuchadnezzar restored and rebuilt several temples in the city of Sippar, 37 miles north of Babylon. One was the temple of Sippar’s patron deity, the sun god Shamash who was the god of justice. The other was the temple of Ninkarrak, the goddess of healing.