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Hanging Gardens of Babylon

 

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

 

Appearance

The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus gave one of the best accounts of the site:

The approach to the Garden sloped like a hillside and the several parts of the structure rose from one another tier on tier. On all this, the earth had been piled…and was thickly planted with trees of every kind that, by their great size and other charm, gave pleasure to the beholder. The water machines [raised] the water in great abundance from the river, although no one outside could see it.

Other ancient historians gave additional details:

The Garden is quadrangular, and each side is four plethra [one hundred Greek feet] long. It consists of arched vaults which are located on checkered cube-like foundations. The ascent of the uppermost terrace-roofs is made by a stairway (Strabo).

The Hanging Garden has plants cultivated above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than in the earth. The whole mass is supported on stone columns. Streams of water emerging from elevated sources flow down sloping channels. These waters irrigate the whole garden saturating the roots of plants and keeping the whole area moist. Hence the grass is permanently green and the leaves of trees grow firmly attached to supple branches. This is a work of art of royal luxury and its most striking feature is that the labor of cultivation is suspended above the heads of the spectators (Philo of Byzantium).

 

Controversey

Stone tablets from Nebuchadnezzar’s reign give detailed descriptions of the city of Babylonia, its walls, and the palace, but do not refer to the Hanging Gardens. Today, some historians make the case that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon never actually existed.

Image of a "Hanging Garden" from an Assyrian tablet.They stake their claims on the fact that the warriors in the army of Alexander the Great were amazed at the immense prosperity of the thriving city of Babylon and tended to exaggerate their experiences greatly. When the soldiers returned to their stark homeland, they had incredible stories to relate about the remarkable gardens, palm trees, and imposing buildings of rich and fertile Mesopotamia. This was, after all, the land of Nebuchadnezzar’s fabulous palace, the great Ishtar Gate, the legendary Tower of Babel, and other pyramid-like ziggurats. When all of these extraordinary architectural elements were combined together in the imagination of the poets, scholars, and historians of Ancient Greece, the result was another, although fictional, World Wonder. Others point to Assyrian tablets showing raised "hanging" gardens from the city of Nineveh, raising the possibility that the Babylonian gardens may be exaggerated, fanciful versions of what existed in another major Mesopotamian city.

Twentieth century archaeologists began collecting evidence about unsolved questions concerning the Hanging Gardens: What was their location? What kind of irrigation system did it have? What did the Hanging Gardens actually look like? These questions have yet to be fully answered.

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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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