After several hours of searching, the team finally found what they were looking for a hidden switch that activated a secret passage behind the Ishtar Gate. They pushed the switch and heard a rumbling sound as the bricks moved and revealed a narrow tunnel leading to the underground chamber.
They entered the tunnel, following the dim light of their torches. They felt a surge of adrenaline and curiosity as they ventured deeper into the unknown. They wondered what they would find in the chamber and how it would relate to the Scepter of Enlil.
They reached the end of the tunnel and saw a large iron door, with a lock and a keyhole. They searched for a key that would fit but found none.
They examined the door more closely and noticed a small inscription above the keyhole. It read:
“Only he who holds the seal of Marduk can open this door,
Only he who knows the name of Enlil can enter this chamber,
Only he who proves his worth can claim this scepter.”
They realized it was a riddle, a test of their knowledge and skill. They recalled that Marduk was the chief god of Babylon, who defeated Tiamat, the primordial dragon of chaos, and created the world from her body. They also remembered that Enlil was an older god, who ruled over wind, air, and storms, and was considered the father of the gods.
They deduced that they had to find a seal that belonged to Marduk and a name associated with Enlil. They thought of several possibilities, such as symbols, titles, or epithets.
They tried each possibility, inserting it into the keyhole as if it were a key. None of them worked. The door remained closed.
They grew frustrated and impatient. They wondered if they had missed it, or if they had chosen the wrong possibilities. They looked at the tablet again, hoping to find a clue or a hint.
They noticed another symbol, next to the Sumerian cuneiform script. It was a star with eight points, surrounded by four circles. They recognized it as the symbol of Marduk, the Star of Babylon.
They wondered if this symbol had something to do with the riddle. They counted the number of points on the star: eight. They multiplied this number by four: thirty-two. They realized this was also the number of names Marduk had in his famous hymn, Enuma Elish.
They thought of another possibility it was a seal of Marduk and a name of Enlil: Anu. Anu was one of Marduk’s names in Enuma Elish, meaning “the sky”. Anu was also an older god, who ruled over heaven and earth and was considered the grandfather of the gods.
They decided to try this possibility, hoping it would be the right one. They inserted it into the keyhole, spelling it out letter by letter: A-N-U.
The door clicked open.
They smiled at each other, relieved. They had solved the riddle and passed the test. They pushed open the door and entered the chamber.
They gasped at what they saw.
The chamber was filled with treasures and artifacts from ancient times. They saw gold and silver vessels, jewels and gems, statues and idols, weapons and armor, scrolls and tablets shining with beauty and value.
But their eyes were drawn to one object in particular: a golden scepter, resting on a pedestal in the center of the chamber. Its shape was like a lightning bolt, with an eight-pointed star at its tip. It radiated power and majesty.
It was identical to an artifact they had seen on their tablet: The Scepter of Enlil.
The Scepter of Enlil was said to be a divine weapon that could control wind, air, and storms. It was also said to have other abilities, such as granting wisdom, authority, or prophecy to its wielder.
It was also one of the most coveted relics in history: by kings and priests, by heroes and villains, by gods and men.
And now it was before their eyes.
They approached it slowly, cautiously, reverently. They felt its presence calling them closer. They felt its power tempting them to touch it.
But before they could do so,
A voice boomed from behind them:
“Stop! It is not yours to take!”
They turned around and saw a man standing at the doorway.
He wore a military uniform, held a gun, and looked at them with hatred and fury.
He said: “I am Colonel Hassan Al-Bakr, an agent of Saddam Hussein. I am here to claim this scepter for Iraq, to stop you from stealing our heritage. I am here to kill you.”
To be continued…