Tower of Babel: the mythical attempt by humanity to reach for infinity by building a tower as high as the sky.

Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel. To depict the tower
he placed the Colosseum in Rome upon itself seven times.

The name "Babel" suggests the city of Babylon and is Hebrew for, roughly, "babble", "baby talk". In the story of the tower of Babel, which comes from the Book of Genesis, the attempt to come architectonically close to God does not end well. God punishes the people by bringing their language into disarray so that they no longer understand each other, then dispersing them all over the world.

In 1679, the Jesuit priest Athanasius Kircher recalculated the building of the tower in his book Turris Babel. According to his calculations, the distance between the Earth and the sky amounts to 265,380 km. To build a tower that high, 4.5 million workmen would have had to heap up a total of 400 quadrillion bricks over a period of 3400 years. Setting aside the obvious structural challenges, the weight of the tower would have shifted the Earth from the center of the universe. Thus, Kircher's version of the construction project showed it to be not only a violation of God's monopoly on infinity but also an assault upon the laws of nature. God's interference was therefore not punishment, but rather a necessary measure to protect His creation from disaster.

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