Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Benjamin Button and the Babylon Gate, pt. I

Oh look, isn't this timely? The Iraqi National Museum has reopened, the day after the Oscars.

The Iraq Museum, which has stood at its present location since 1966, last year completed the renovation of its Islamic and Assyrian halls, thanks to a one-million-euro (1.1 million dollar) donation and technical help from Italy.

It is also displaying artefacts from the Sumerian and Babylonian eras, although only eight of its 26 halls have been opened in the initial phase. "Work in progress" signs stand outside the closed galleries.

The Babylon Gate at the Kodak Theatre - note Ashur, similar poses

More pictures from the grand reopening here. It seems there is a large-scale effort underway to rebuild Babylon (from the Akkadian Babilu, meaning "Gateway of the Gods.") This syncs quite well with the Atlantis Rising memes, as well as the re-emergence of Amun, as well as with last night's Oscar ceremony, which we will get to in a minute.

US soldiers outside the Ishtar Gate reconstruction in Iraq

But there's another the Iraq project with a very interesting name in the works, as reported by News Daily:

"The Future of Babylon" project launched last month seeks to "map the current conditions of Babylon and develop a master plan for its conservation, study and tourism," the WMF says.

Officials say preserving Babylon, a relic of a time and place that gave birth to such milestones of civilization as agriculture, writing, codified law and the wheel, is crucial.

"It's extremely important. When people say this (region) is the cradle of civilization, that's certainly true of Babylon," Lisa Ackerman, WMF vice-president, told Reuters in a telephone interview. "It's a culture that had a profound impact on what we think of as modern civilization."

Oh yes, it surely did. Here is a quick sketch of the significance of the Babylon Gate aka the Ishtar Gate, which itself is a symbol of restoration:

King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon dedicated the great Ishtar Gate to the goddess Ishtar. It was the main entrance into Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar II performed elaborate building projects in Babylon around 604-562 BC. His goal was to beautify his capital. He restored the temple of Marduk, the chief god, and also built himself a magnificent palace with the famous Hanging Gardens, which was reported by the Greek historian Herodotus to have been one of the wonders of the world.- bible-history.com

So what we are seeing now is a restoration of a restoration of a restoration of a restoration. Just as Nebuchadnezzar restored the Gateway of the Gods, so too is Iraq restoring what was lost to them. (Remember that Iraq is presently the beneficiary of countless billions of US tax dollars as well).

The word "restoration" itself offers some clues. From dictionary.com, we have "restoration" defined as:

  • to bring back into existence, use, or the like; reestablish: to restore order.
  • to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition, as a building, statue, or painting.
  • to put back to a former place, or to a former position, rank, etc.: to restore the king to his throne.

In essence, restoration means the reversal of the effects of time.

We saw the themes of restoration in Dark City, with John Murdoch ("Oannes Marduk"), who in effect restored the oceans (identified with Oannes) and the Sun (identified with Marduk) to the abducted humans of the prison planet who were being experimented upon by an alien race. Note that Marduk and Ishtar are the equivalents of Horus and Hathor in the Babylonian religion.

John Murdoch is both Osiris and Horus as he enters the gateway of the gods (which no human was permitted to go through) and meets Jennifer Connelly rising from the surf like Aphrodite. The aliens called her "Emma," but her new name is Anna.

You know, as in "Inanna."

So what does this have to do with anything, you might ask. Well, although Slumdog Millionaire got the lion's share of the awards Sunday night, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button did quite nicely for itself. The two make an interesting pair. Slumdog is about the use of technology to restore a relationship and find one's destiny. Benjamin Button is about the reversal of time.

The two themes are not unrelated here on The Secret Sun.