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Biblical Archaeology Review 47:2, Summer 2021

Strata: Where Is It?

Where Is It?

1. Hazor, Israel

2. Aksum, Ethiopia

3. Babylon, Iraq

4. Amman, Jordan

5. Ain Dara, Syria

Answer: 3. Babylon, Iraq

A lion tramples over a prone human—and proclaims victory with a roar. Associated with the goddess Ishtar, the so-called Lion of Babylon stands at the northern end of the Processional Way of ancient Babylon—about 60 miles south of modern Baghdad, Iraq. Archaeologists unearthed the basalt lion in 1876. Dated to the sixth century B.C.E., it measures 8.5 feet long.

The lion has long been considered a symbol of ancient Babylon’s strength. Yet, based on its style, this iconic statue might actually reflect Hittite craftsmanship. Regardless of its origin, the statue remains one of Iraq’s most celebrated artifacts and even appears on the insignia for the Iraqi Football Association.

Partially due to its popularity and desirability as a photo-op, the lion has suffered some damage from modern tourists who have climbed on it to take photographs. The World Monuments Fund, in partnership with the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, helped restore and reinforce the statue and its platform, in 2013. They also created a security barrier to stop tourists from climbing on the lion. We hope these efforts preserve the monument for years to come.

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