The hanging garden

We have discussed many wonders of the world – Ancient, Medieval and Modern. Some were devastated, while some exist even today. However, the fact of astonishment is that there is an Ancient Wonder of the World which may or may not have existed. Isn’t it strange? It can be accepted that most of the Ancient wonders do not have their roots today, but the very question of its existence is a wonder. Such is the Hanging Garden of Babylon. The name is metaphorically implied as it comes from an inexact translation of the Greek word ‘kremastos’ or a Latin word ‘pensilis’ meaning not just hanging but ‘overhanging’ like an extended terrace or balcony. As there is no documentation in Babylonian sources about the existence of these gardens, there had been several stories related to its origin. Though its existence had been vanished, it is considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and its feats are still full of mysteries. Let us unfold the mystery of another classic tale of love.

Where is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon located?

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is the only ancient wonder of the world whose location has not been definitely established. Traditionally, it was supposedly located and built in the ancient city of Babylon, in the Babil province of Iraq. However, according to a research by Dr. Stephanie Dalley from Oxford University, the Gardens were actually buried in the ancient city of Nineveh (today called Mosul) which is about 350 miles away in northern Iraq.

What are its dimensions?

There had been several observations regarding the dimensions of the Gardens. According to a Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, the gardens were around 100 feet wide, about 100 feet long and almost 80 feet high and were built up in tiers that resembled a theatre. Other dimensions remaining the same, the height of the Garden is controversial. Herodotus suggests its height to be around 320 feet which is too exaggerated to believe.

What is the story behind it?

Many historians had different stories about the Gardens. In the 600 B.C., there existed a city named Babylon which was the capital of a Mesopotamian state, Babylonia (located in the present day Iraq). The city was a dry, rough and flat land with less greenery and very little rain. Since 43 years, Babylon was ruled by a king called Nebuchadnezzar II. In order to make an alliance between the two nations-Babylon and Medes, he married Amyitis, the daughter of the King of the Medes. Unlike Babylon, Media was full of greeneries, rugged mountains and rainfalls. The princess had been brought up amidst the beauty, soft and tender side of nature. There was a drastic change in the environment for princess Amyitis. She could not find greeneries for distances, no rain, no animals; it was a deserted place for her. Disheartened and depressed, she started to miss her homeland and fell homesick. To comfort her and make her feel at home, King Nebuchadnezzar II decided to bring the scenic beauty of Media to Babylon and he built The Hanging Garden of Babylon. In the city of desert, the garden was a replica of an exotic location with lushes, waterfall, different types of flowers and animals on an artificial mountain which has a structure with rooftop gardens. The garden was constructed along the river Euphrates which was nearly 48 kilometres to the south of Baghdad, Iraq. It was not just a simple garden on a riverbank, but had mysteries. According to the Greek geographer Strabo, there were nearly 5 storeys of vaulted terraces, one above the other. The garden also had cube-shaped pillars inside of which were filled with earth for the large sized trees to grow. King Nebakanezar II had built it in such a way that his wife could walk around the entire garden, from the bottom-most to the top-most. Thus, there were stairs connecting all the terraces and to its sides, were the water engines that would supply irrigation for the garden.

What were its unique features?

Following features of the Gardens make it stand out from most of the ancient wonders of the world:

  • Amidst the trees and greeneries, there were also waterfalls that flowed down the layers of gardens.

  • King Nebuchadnezzar II had ensured that the garden should have varieties of flowers, trees and animals, thus he had it all collected from different parts of the world.

  • The entire structure had the foundation of a number of big stones, which were coated with lead. The construction used bricks for the walls and the pillars. These bricks were made up of clay and chopped straws, then later baked in sun and covered with sheets of lead.

  • Robert Koldewey found out that a ‘chain pump’ system was used in order to get the water from those water storage holes and distribute it all the way to the topmost terrace garden.

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