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Mare Nostrum

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

By E. S.

Important facts about the Gardens

    It is the second oldest of the Wonders, having been built 500 years before the others (King 14). The Garden was built around 600 BCE by King Nebuchadnezzar for his wife, Queen Amyitis, the daughter of the king of the Medes, who was homesick for the mountains of her homeland in Media, which is in Persia (Ashmawy, King 14, Silverberg 34).

    Its ruins lies in the long-since-gone ancient city of Babylon, which is near the modern city of Baghdad in Iraq (Ashmawy)

    It was a very beautiful structure, with relatively advanced technology (Ashmawy) Babylonian engineers designed an advanced system of shafts to carry buckets of water continuously. The water carried in the buckets filled the fountains and pools in the Garden (King 14). The energy to allow this was supposedly supplied by slaves turning massive screws (Pathak). This well system was the first and only of its kind in Babylon (King 14).

    Many people were allowed to enjoy the Gardens (Ashmawy). Strabo and Philo of Byzantium described it in their writings.

    The Garden is quadrangular, and each side is four plethra 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 . . . 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 the trees grow firmly attached to supple branches . . . This is a work of art of royal luxury and its most striking figure is that the labor of cultivation is suspended above the heads of the spectators. (qtd. in Ashmawy)

    Diodorus Siculus also visited the Gardens and had a similar passage describing its abundant beauty.

    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. (qtd. in Ashmawy)

    Babylon was eventually abandoned, and the Gardens were lost (Silverberg 36).

The re-discovery of Babylon

    Archaeologists rediscovered the city of Babylon under a large mound that the natives of Iraq called Babil (Silverberg 36). More recent archaeological discoveries include the foundation of the palace, the Vaulted Building, and an irrigation well that may have supplied the Gardens with water. Massive, 25-meter-thick walls along the banks of the Euphrates River, which could have been stepped to form terraces, were also found (Ashmawy).

Beliefs on the location of the Gardens

    Some people believe the Vaulted Building was the site of the Hanging Gardens (Silverberg 36), while others believe that they existed between the walls by the Euphrates River and the site of the foundation of the palace (Ashmawy). Until we find more data, we will not know for sure.

History and Thought of Western Man
Rich East High School * Park Forest, IL 60466

This page was created by E. S.. Last revised 05/12/00.

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