The History of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Hanging Gardens of Babylon History of the Seven Wonders of the World

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The Hanging Gardens of  Babylon are one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which are engineering structures in Babylon with a cascade of terraced gardens where many species of trees, shrubs and vines grow, giving the impression of a huge green mountain. The only one of the Seven Wonders, whose final location has not been established and, moreover, the fact of its existence is questionable, since there are no surviving Babylonian texts, which mention these gardens, descriptions of the gardens are only available in late ancient Greek and Roman writers, and archaeological excavations in the area where the garden was supposed to be located have also yielded no results.

Why is it called the hanging gardens of Babylon

Origin of the name Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The hanging gardens of Babylon come from the Greek name for the building – – from the word (literally “to hang”), which has a broader meaning than the modern word “to hang”, and refers to a tree planted on a hill, for example on the terrace.

Legend About who built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

According to one legend, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built by the Babylonian king  Nebuchadnezzar II of (reigned 605-562 BC…) for his wife – the Median daughter Amitis. Another legend links the construction of the garden to the legendary Queen Semiramis, who probably ruled Babylon in the 9th century BC. e. , more than two centuries before Nebuchadnezzar . The second legend became more widespread, and the corresponding name stuck in the literature, 

Hanging Gardens of Babylon is still there?

The question of whether these gardens actually existed continues to be debated in Assyriology. Currently, there are three main theories about the historicity/mythology of the Hanging Gardens.

According to the first theory, gardens as tangible objects do not really exist, and their descriptions by ancient Greek and Roman writers (such as Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, Quintus Curtius Rufus) represent only the ideal type of romantic oriental garden.

A second theory holds that these gardens did exist in Babylon, but were completely destroyed around the 1st century BC. According to one legend, the Hanging Gardens were built next to the palace, known as the “Wonder of humanity”, the Babylonian king  Nebuchadnezzar II of (reigned 605-562 BC..) for his wife – Queen Amitis, daughter of the Median king Kiaxara, who misses the mountains of his homeland .

Legend of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Beauty of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Where is it and who built it?
The Beauty of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

This legend is contained in the work of the Babylonian soothsayer Berossus; , which dates from about 290 BC. e., this work was later referenced by the Roman historian Josephus Flavius… This theory is challenged by a number of modern Assyriologists, notably I. Finkel, who notes that, despite widespread “political” marriage customs, there is no documentary evidence of the existence of a wife. Nebuchadnezzar’s name was Amitis. Another British assyriologist, Stephanie Dalley, notes that in various written sources about Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, there is no mention of any gardens. 

German assyriologist R. Rollinger suggested that Berossus attributed the construction of the Hanging Gardens to Nebuchadnezzar for political reasons, and borrowed the legend from other sources. Herodotus, who described Babylon in his book ” History  ” (c. 440 BC), also does not mention the Hanging Gardens in his work. D. Reed, in turn, defends the view that the Hanging Gardens existed at the time they were described by later writers, and some of this evidence belongs to those who directly visited Babylon.

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Archaeological excavations in Babylon (near the city of Al-Hill, Babil province, Iraq) have not provided evidence to support the existence of the Hanging Gardens. A number of Assyriologists acknowledge that artifacts indicating the existence of the Hanging Gardens exist; but it is located in an area west of the Euphrates River, where it is not safe to carry out archaeological excavations. In the time of Nebuchadnezzar II the river flowed east from its current channel, and little is known about the western part of Babylon.

A third theory holds that under the hanging gardens meant a real garden, which was built by the Assyrian king Sennacherib (704-681 BC E.) in his capital Nineveh on the Tigris river, near the modern city of Mosul. 

Descriptions of ancient Greek and Roman writers

Descriptions of the Hanging Gardens are available from five ancient authors.

Josephus Flavius’ opinion of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Josephus Flavius ​​(c. 37-100 AD) gives a description of the garden, compiled by the Babylonian astrologer Berossus and dated to about 290 BC. BC, which is the earliest known mention of gardens. Berossus’ work describes the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II and is the only source linking the construction of the Hanging Gardens to this ruler:

In this palace he erected very high walls supported by stone pillars; and planted what is called a hanging paradise,; and replenishing it with all kinds of trees, it gave off a very similar appearance to a mountain country. He did this to please his queen, because he was raised in Media and loved mountain views.

Diodor Sicily’s opinion on the construction of the hanging gardens of Babylon

The Sicilian Diodor (… c. 60-30 BC) seems to have been researched with texts such as Cleitarchus (the historian  Alexander the Great  lived in the IV century BC..) and Ctesias Cnidus (second half of the V – early 4th century BC). Diodorus attributes the construction of the Hanging Gardens to the king of Syria and mentions that it was a square with sides of about four pletras (about 120 meters) and terraced, 50 cubits (about 60 meters) high. . The walls of the building, 22 feet (6.6 meters) thick, are made of brick; and each level is deep enough to support the growth of the largest tree roots. Irrigation of the gardens is carried out from the nearby Euphrates River.

Quintus Curtius Rufus hangs

Quintus Curtius Rufus (circa 1st century AD) probably relied on the same source as Diodorus. According to Rufus’ description, the gardens were located at the top of a fortress, the circumference of which was 20 stadia (approximately 3.8 km). Rufus also attributes the construction of the garden to the king of Syria, and as the reason for its founding;, he shows, like Berossus, the longing of the king’s wife for her homeland .

Strabo’s description of the garden of babel

Strabo (c. 64 BC – AD 21) probably based his description on the lost work of Onesikrit (IV century BC). Strabo claims that the Hanging Gardens were flushed with Archimedes’ screws from the Euphrates.

Philo of Byzantium

The last ancient source describing the Hanging Gardens is the “Handbook of the Seven Wonders of the World”, compiled by Philo of Byzantium (4th to 5th century AD; not to be confused with Philo the Elder, who lived around 280-220 BC); according to some estimates, “The Handbook…” is an independent source from other works of ancient authors. Philo describes the irrigation of the Hanging Gardens using Archimedes’ screws, similar to Strabo, and praises the engineering skills of the Babylonians.

Hanging Gardens in Nineveh

Separate consideration is required by theory; according to which the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were actually built by the Assyrian king Sennacherib (r. 704-681 BC. E.) to his palace at Nineveh (near the modern city of Mosul, Iraq). Stephanie Dalley argues that for centuries past, these two places were confused and the gardens of Sinacherib’s palace were associated with the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar II. Archaeological excavations in the Nineveh region support this theory, where traces of an extensive aqueduct system have been found., with an inscription mentioning Sinacherib; According to Dally, the Point ruins were part of an 80-kilometer system of drains, dams and aqueducts, which were used to convey water to Nineveh via screw pumps that pumped water to the upper gardens. In addition, Dalley found confirmation of his theory in the analysis of Akkadian inscriptions of the time, citing the following arguments:

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Theories and analysts of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon . Tengtang

  • The name “Babel”, which means “Gate of the Gods”, was used in connection with several cities in Mesopotamia. Sinacherib renamed the city gates of Nineveh in honor of the gods, indicating his desire for his city to be considered “Babylon”;
  • Only Josephus Flavius ​​mentions Nebuchadnezzar as the king who built the garden; although many sources remain from Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, none of them mention the construction of the garden. Diodorus Siculus and Quintus Curtius Rufus attributed the construction of the Hanging Gardens to the Syrian king, and Sinacherib left a description of the hydraulic structure, and there is archaeological evidence for this. Sinachkherib’s grandson, Ashurbanipal, depicts a garden in bas-relief in his palace;
  • Sinacherib called his new palace and gardens “a miracle for all”; he explains the manufacture and operation of screws to raise water in his garden;
  • The descriptions of ancient authors correspond to other sources written by contemporaries of the event. So,  Alexander the Great before the battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC. e. for four days he camped in the aqueduct in Jervan . Eyewitness accounts of this site have not survived to this day and have been retold by subsequent authors.

Famous for Babylonian hanging garden hydraulic system

King Sinacherib Park is renowned not only for its beauty, but also for the high level of hydraulic engineering that serves the park. In Assyria had formed their own canon for the construction of the king’s garden. So king Ashurnatsirapal II (883–859 BC) made a canal through the mountains. 

Fruit trees were planted in the royal garden; and various sources also mention pine, spruce, juniper, almond tree, date palm; ebony, rosewood, olive tree, oak, tamarisk, walnut, turpentine, ash, spruce, pomegranate, pear, quince, figs and grapes. Irrigation of the park required an increase in the water supply of the city of Nineveh as a whole; in connection with the construction of a canal system along 80 kilometers;, towards the mountains. 

Hydraulic structure in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Sinnacherib describes in detail the technology and hydraulic structure used in his inscription. In the upper reaches of Bavian (Hinnis), the inscription mentions automatic lock… The great aqueduct that traverses the valley of Dzhervane, constructed of more than 2 million processed stone; using stone arches and waterproof cement. 

Reliefs and inscriptions on the hydraulic system of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

There is an inscription on the aqueduct: “Sinacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria. At great distances I have streams of water that are directed around Nineveh, connecting the waters together… I stretch the aqueducts of blocks of white limestone along a steep valley; and make this water run along it. “

One original relief from Sinacherib’s palace and other images are in the British Museum, although none are on public display. Some of the features mentioned by classic writers can be seen in these images. In particular, large limestone blocks are mentioned, which enhance the palace’s flood protection. Part of Sinacherib Palace was excavated by British archaeologist Austin Layard in the mid-19th century. Plans for excavating the fort show contours that correspond to the park of Sinacherib, but its position has not been confirmed. The area was recently used as a military base, making further research difficult.

History of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

What was Babylon’s hanging garden like? Someone once described it in a poem:  “One can drink fruit juice in this garden, just by smelling the aroma of the tree.” When the wind blows, the fallen palm fronds in the wind float to the pools of water lilies, and to the city of Babylon below. The entire area of ​​the first largest city in ancient times (population estimated at 200,000 inhabitants) is clearly visible from the top of the park.

Even though it is in the highlands, all the plants are watered every day. The garden’s irrigation system is simply amazing (Read: The Secrets of Water Climbing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon). It would not be wrong if  Philon, the Greek philosopher  who liked to travel, noted it as one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. This park is very charming.

The History of the Hanging Gardens

Babylon which was the capital of Babylonia, the ancient empire of Mesopotamia, was a city  located near the river Euphrates , in what is now southern Iraq.

According to History , the first dynasty of Babylon was founded by  Hammurabi  during the Neo-Babylonian period after the destruction of the Assyrian empire. Babylon became one of the most important cities in the ancient Middle East when Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC), made it the capital of the Babylonian empire.

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Babylonian literature is very well constructed and cuneiform records that have been found show that religion, history , and science were highly developed at that time.

Medicine, chemistry, alchemy, botany, mathematics, and astronomy were also practiced. This ancient religion and cuneiform writing originates from the older Sumerian culture. They also developed an abstract form of writing based on cuneiform symbols. This article was written on wet clay and burned under the hot sun.

The Babylonian “tales of creation” were written on seven clay tablets and displayed and recited at the New Year’s Festival in Babylon. These pages tell of the success of the Lord of the City of Babylon, Marduk, and how Marduk became the supreme God, the King of all Gods in heaven and earth.

History of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Tower of Babel

The Babylonians had a more advanced number system than we have today, with a positional system with a base of 60. They also made tables to help in the calculation process. They divided the day just as we do now, 24 hours by 60 minutes, for every hour and for every 60 minutes.

These Babylonian customs also influenced the Assyrians and contributed to the later history of the Middle East and Western Europe.

Babylonia declined and fell into anarchy around 1180 BC, but then grew again as a state of the Assyrian empire after the 9th century BC.

Babylon was finally destroyed in 689 BC, by the Assyrians under Senna Cherib,  but was rebuilt again. Nabopolassar  founded what is now known as the Chaldean or New Babylonian Empire in 625 BC, and finally reached its golden age under the reign of his son Nebuchadnezzar (604-562 BC).

The glory and splendor of Babylon became famous and legendary since the ascension of Nebuchadnezzar, who is believed to be the founder of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

History of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Performance of Love

Like the Taj Mahal in India, which was built by Shah Jahan for his beloved consort Mumtaz Mahal, the hanging gardens of Babylon are also an offering of love.

This garden was built by  Nebuchadnezzar II  who reigned from 605-562 BC, for Amytis, his beloved consort who came from the kingdom of Media. The Kingdom of Media was located in the mountains of Persia (Iran).

Amytis is great among the green mountains, and the cool breeze. The condition of his kingdom was in contrast to Babylonia. Babylonia was a flat, dry and hot region. This makes Amytis always remember the green forest of Media. He longs to return to his hometown.

To treat the longing of his wife King Nebuchadnezzar ordered, to build a shady garden in the highlands. The park was built east of the Euphrates (Euphrates) river, about 50 km south of Baghdad, Iraq.

According to the Greek historian  Diodorus Siculus , the garden is 400 feet wide, 400 feet long and about 80 feet high. This garden stands on a ‘base’ made of bricks covered with asphalt and ceramics. Serves to prevent the entry of water seepage into the soil which is likely to corrode the garden foundation.

Another historian,  Herodotus  reveals, that this garden is located within the palace walls gilded with a length of 56 miles. The garden path is so wide that it is possible for a carriage pulled by four horses to turn around.

Here also stand the shrines of worship that contain statues of gods of gold. This garden is made of storied, higher than other buildings in the city of Babylon, giving the illusion of ‘hanging in the air’. This impression becomes even clearer when the garden is viewed from behind the houses of residents. All the plants will be seen hanging on the roof of the housing. This is why the garden is called the dependent garden.

It is also mentioned, that the garden was built by Nebuchadnezzar to entertain his wife or concubine who was very fond of being in an area surrounded by mountains. Since then the hanging garden, one of the seven wonders of the world is estimated to exist.

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