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Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Ancient Wonders of Earth

 

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

 

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon (also known as the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis) are considered one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. They were said to have been built by Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 B.C.E.

The image of the gardens is impressive not only for its beauty, but also for the engineering feat of supplying the massive, raised gardens with soil and water. The lush Hanging Gardens were extensively documented by Greek historians such as Strabo and Diodorus Siculus. However, these are not eyewitness accounts, and there is little first-hand evidence of their existence. Some circumstantial evidence gathered at the excavation of the palace at Babylon has accrued, but does not substantiate the apparently fanciful descriptions of ancient writers. Through the ages, the location of the Hanging Gardens may have been confused with gardens that existed at Nineveh, since tablets from there clearly show gardens.

Presumed to have been located on or near the east bank of the River Euphrates, about 31 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon—with their blossoming flowers, ripe fruit, gushing waterfalls, terraces lush with rich foliage, and exotic creatures roaming about—may have been only a figment of the fertile imagination of Greek scholars and poets, or the boasts of returning soldiers.

History

During the rule of the well-known king, Hammurabi (1792–1750 B.C.E.), the kingdom of Babylonia rose to prominence above the cities of Mesopotamia. However, Babylonian civilization did not reach the apex of its glory until the reign of Nabopolassar (625–605 B.C.E.), who began the Neo-Babylonian empire. His fabled son, Nebuchadnezzar II (604–562 B.C.E.), the presumed builder of the legendary Hanging Gardens is said to have constructed them in order to win favor with his wife, Amyitis, who had been "brought up in Media [an ancient country roughly in the area of the northwest of modern Iran] and had a passion for mountain surroundings."

Philo of Byzantium, thought by many to be the first to compile a list of the Seven Wonders of the World in the late second century B.C.E., raised the issue whether the plants in the Hanging Gardens were hydroponic. Philo noticed that plants were cultivated above ground, while the roots of the trees were embedded in an upper terrace of the garden rather than in the earth. This was certainly an advanced agricultural technique for the time, if true.

Strabo, the first century B.C.E. Greek historian and geographer, in Book 16 of his 17-book series, Geography (in the Middle East), described the geo-political landscape of the Hanging Gardens, as he did with much of the known world during the reigns of the first two Roman emperors, Augustus and Tiberius

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5metv
January 21, 2007

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Hanging Gardens of Babylon. (2008, April 2). New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:11, May 24, 2009 from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Hanging_Gardens_of_Babylon?oldid=680137. Link to this site---Terms of Service---Privacy policy---Contact Us

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