Record number 03/2617
Author Kircher, Athanasius, 1602 - 1680
TitleAthanasii Kircher E Soc. Iesu Turris Babel, Sive Archontologia Qua Primo Priscorum post diluvium hominum vita, mores rerumque gestarum magnitudo, Secundo Turris fabrica civitatumque exstructio, confusio linguarum, & inde gentium transmigrationis, cum principalium inde enatorum idiomatum historia, multiplici eruditione describuntur & explicantur. Auspiciis Augustissimi & Sapientissimi Cæsaris Leopoldi Primi Mecænatis.
ImprintAmstelodami: Ex Officina Janssonio-Waesbergiana., Anno MDCLXXIX. Cum Privilegiis.
Physical Description[14], 219, [13] p., frontis., [12] pl. (1 dble., 8 fold.): illus.; 394 mm. (Quarto).
Physical Description NoteThe double plate (showing two views) is printed from two coppers.
Content Format Note[Frontis., t.p., imprimatur, dedic.] - Index Capitum - [Text, with pl.] - Index Rerum.
Summary NoteThe title page and one plate carry the date 1679; one plate carries an earlier date (1670).

Earlier Kircher had published on many subjects, especially Egyptian hieroglyphics and Coptic. In this, his last publication he takes the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis XI) as the basis for an investigation of ancient history and the possibility of a primeval, universal language. He is also concerned with human ingenuity as revealed in technical advances. As for 'Those careerists ambitious for glory by building vain buildings' they 'ought to work at building churches [...] hospices [...] colleges. And these are not Towers of Nimrod, but the creations of pious minds'. Kircher's treatise makes use of Pietro della Valle's reports of explorations among the ruins of Babylon.

The plates show: [1] a map of Mt Ararat; [2] the Tower of Babel; [3] plan of Nineveh; [4] Babylonian tower; [5] imaginary view of Babylon; [6] reconstruction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon; [7] signs of the zodiac; [8] Egyptian labyrinth; [9] two views of ruins of the Tower of Babel; [10] city of Nimrod; [11] tree of genealogy of Noah; [12] Nimrod. L. Cruyl and C. Decker's engraving of the Tower of Babel is regarded as one of the best images executed for any of Kircher's books.
Responsibility NoteThe frontispiece is signed as drawn by G. Laires and engraved by I.V. Munnichuysen. Most plates are unsigned, but two are signed as designed and made by C. Decker, and one as drawn by Liv. Creyl and made by C. Decker.

The work is dedicated by the author to Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor.
SubjectLinguistics - Middle East - History - Babel, Tower of
Pictorial works - Netherlands - 17th century
Bible. O.T. Genesis.
ReferencesI.D. Rowland, The Ecstatic Journey: Athanasius Kircher in Baroque Rome [exhibition catalogue] (2000); O. Hein, Die Drucker und Verleger der Werke des Polyhistors Athanasius Kircher (1993). J. Godwin, Athanasius Kircher: a Renaissance man and the quest for lost knowledge ( 1979); J. Fletcher, Athanasius Kircher and the distribution of his books (1968).
Binding Note18th-century sprinkled calf; gilt-decorated spine, red morocco spine-label lettered 'Kircher Turris Babel'.
ProvenanceRecorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.
Variant TitleArchontologia
Turris Babel
Contributors Lairesse, Gerard de, 1640 - 1711, draughtsman
Munnickhuysen, Johannes Willemsz., 1654 - after 1701, engraver
Decker, Conraet, 1651 - 1685, draughtsman, engraver
Cruyl, Lieven, 1640? - 1720?, draughtsman
Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1640 - 1705, dedicatee
Officina Janssonio-Waesbergiana (Amsterdam). printer
MARC Record view