Six lines of cuneiform text are impressed into one face of the clay reading: Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who provides for Esagila and Ezida, the eldest son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon.
Bricks like this were used to build the great ziggurat that served as the inspiration for the biblical Tower of Babel.
Many now reside in museum collections but this one came for sale at TimeLine Auctions in Harwich, Essex, with an early 20th century provenance. An old collection label reads: Brick from the Wall of Babylon. Presented by W[orshipful] Bro[ther] Gentle-Cackett, Secretary Bible Lands Mission.
Based on The Strand, the Rev Samuel W Gentle-Cackett (1871-1943) was a key figure in the Bible Lands Missions Aid Society in the inter-war period and also a member of the Lodge of Sincerity 174, where the brick had formed part of a collection of curios and Masonic ephemera.
It was offered for sale on February 21 together with a copy of Gentle-Cackett’s book Palestine Portrayed (1936) and copies of relevant pages from the Edward Chiera’s They Wrote on Clay (1956), showing similar bricks in situ and the famous quote from Genesis: “And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly’, and they had brick for stone and bitumen for mortar.”
Estimated at £1200- 1700, this memento of one of the great civilizations of the ancient world sold at £4600 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).