An excerpt from the book:
“My lord, many people believe it is fifty royal cubits in thickness,” answered Chrysantas.
Cyrus’ eyes widened. “It is impenetrable. As I can see, we cannot climb it either—looks very high.”
“It is two hundred cubits in height,” remarked Harpagus.
“People exaggerate about things, yet I have seen with my own eyes,” Chrysantas interrupted. “There is a road up there on top of that wall, stretching all around the city. You can easily drive a four-horse chariot on that road.”
“Each side seems to be almost four parasangs,” said Cyrus. “It takes an enormous amount of manpower and many years of hard work to build such a fortification.”
“Jewish slaves suffered for many years to build it—they worked their fingers to the bone here,” said Harpagus.
The boatman warned them to hold fast, for they were approaching the dock. Ishtar Gate was the most crowded of the eight gates around the city of Babylon. The magnificent structure was made of glazed brick with different shades of olive and gold. It was about thirty cubits high and sixty cubits wide. The lintel, walls, and the two towers on either side, were decorated with golden reliefs of dragons, lions, and bulls framed in stripes bearing lotus flowers. The canal was loaded with boats—Hebrew money changers, bankers of exchange, procurers, guesthouse solicitors, peddlers, and beggars along the canal bank.
“You don’t need to dock, we are not disembarking,” said Chrysantas, in the Assyrian tongue.
The boatman looked at them with suspicion. They had presented themselves as horse traders and experience told him they possessed heavy pouches of gold coins under their garments. “This is the end of your trip across the canal, mister. It’s getting dark and no longer safe to stay on the water.”
Cyrus winked at Chrysantas and said, “We will disembark right here, good man.”