First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

The three princes, Joktan (Jectan), Nimrod (Nemroth), and Suphena, as well as their people, feared that the Flood might come again and drown them. So they assembled in the field of Shinar[The region where the people, after the Flood, made bricks and used slime (bitumen) for mortar (Genesis 11:2-3). It was probably the Hebrew name for the plain of Mesopotamia, on the Euphrates and the Tigris. It would seem originally to have denoted the northern part of Babylonia, as Chaldea denoted the southern; but subsequently, like Chaldea, it was sometimes used for the whole.] and decided to build a tower that would reach to heaven, etc. But as God saw that they would not abstain from carrying out this foolhardy plan, he divided or confused their tongues so that the people were scattered throughout the world.

Babylon was the beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom. After the confusion of tongues he gave his realm to his son Belus and moved on to Persia. But Augustine says that Nimrod was driven from there, and that the sons of Aashur ruled the kingdom for 1305 years.

Belus is said to have ruled in obscurity, for he had but a small dominion. He was the first who through the error of mankind was regarded as a god. Different people called him by various names, such as Bel, Baal, Baalim, Beelphegor, and Beelzebub.

Many kingdoms now sprang up: Firstly, that of Sictarum (Scythia), which, although the oldest, is not reckoned among the most renowned, because of the coarseness of its people as hereafter stated. It is the first part of Europe. Secondly, the kingdom of the Masungetharum (Massagetae).[ A Scythian people to the east of the Caspian Sea, in the modern Sangaria and Mongolia.] The third, Sichiomorum (Sicyonia), of which Varro[Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 BCE) was an antiquarian and a man of letters, and not only “the most learned of the Romans,” but also the most voluminous Roman writer. The scope of his endeavors may be gathered from Cicero’s tribute: “You have revealed to us the age of our fatherland, its chronology, the laws of its religion and priesthoods, the plan of our home and foreign administration, the position of our territories and districts, the titles and descriptions of all things divine and human, with the duties and principles attaching to them, and you have shed a vast amount of light on our poets, and on Latin literature in general, and on the Latin vocabulary,” etc. Sicyon was an ancient city, near Corinth, Greece.] wrote in ancient times, and which extended to Athens and afterwards to the Latin countries. The fourth was the kingdom of the Egyptians. Of all those and of others more will be said on the following page.

Among other kingdoms, as Augustine says, there are two principal ones—the Assyrian and the Roman empires. The kingdom of the Assyrians was the first to originate in the East; that of Rome, in the West. When the Assyrian empire ended, the Roman began. Now the other king of the Assyrians and first sole ruler was Ninus, who through greed to rule, made war upon his neighbors and created disturbances among them. Because of their lack of skill in war, he soon subjugated them, and so the whole of Asia. And he conquered half the earth, and enlarged the great city of Nineveh, which Asshur had built, and gave it his own name. Ninus was the first inventor of idolatry. He made an image of his deceased father Belus in order to ease his sorrows. And to all evildoers who fled to it he granted security and freedom. In this way the image came to be worshipped. After it, others also made statues of the dead, into which the devil entered and gave answers from them. Through these images they endeavored to secure divine favor. This same idol and its temple were afterward destroyed by Daniel the prophet when he was led captive to Babylonia.


This illustration, very tall and narrow, is well suited to its purpose. The tower of Babel shown under construction. Four stories have been completed, each with a balcony and receding toward the top. A building block is being raised, and one of the workmen is signaling, apparently to the operators of the crane below. A second man reaches for the stone to put it into place. Two or three other workmen are seen on top of the structure. The sharp tongs that grip the suspended block seem ill suited to the purpose. A large blooming plant has already reared itself at the base of the tower.