Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Mysterious Gardens of Babylon may not have been in Babylon at All!

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According to new research, the legendary Gardens of Babylon , famous for being one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, may not have been in Babylon at all, but rather 340 miles north of that location in Nineveh, on the Tigris River, Iraq.

The fabled gardens were attributed to the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, who ruled between 605 and 562 BC. He is reported to have constructed the gardens to please his homesick wife Amytis of Media, who longed for the plants of her homeland.  The gardens were said to have been destroyed by several earthquakes after the 2nd century BC.  The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are documented by ancient Greek and Roman writers, however, no definitive archaeological evidence concerning their whereabouts has yet been found

Stephanie Dalley, an Oxford University Assyriologist, whose book ‘The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon’ will be published later this Summer, has claimed that early references to the gardens were translated incorrectly, leading to the belief that they were located in Babylon.  Dalley also states that Nebuchadrezzar never mentions gardens, despite many extant inscriptions boasting of his accomplishments in Babylon. 

Dalley believes that the gardens were attributed to Sennacherib, an Assyrian king who ruled from 704-681 BC and who made Nineveh his capital.  Sennacherib is said to have created a massive system of waterworks and left a number of inscriptions boasting of his irrigation and garden-building abilities.  "The inscriptions of Sennacherib in particular refer proudly to his great network of canals, and often describe them in the context of luxurious gardens and parks," says Jason Ur, an anthropological archeologist at Harvard University.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of proving Dalley’s theory remains remote considering that its proposed location, next to Mosul, is an area of continuing violence between the Sunni minority and the Shiite-led government of Iraq, rendering archaeological work impossible.

By April Holloway

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