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The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon Essay, Research Paper
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the most controversial wonders of the world, simply
because their existence can not be proved or denied. Many early historians talked about the
Gardens, many did not. They today would lay inside of the great nation of Iraq, so archeological
research is rather difficult for obvious reasons, the site is said to be 50 miles south of present day
Baghdad. Their existence will probably never be proven or denied. In fact, all we know about
the Gardens is based on myths, so neither I nor anyone can be truly right when talking about
Legend has it that the Gardens were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II to please his favorite
wife named Amytis. Amytis was lonely for her fertile homeland of Media, and the king built the
Gardens to alleviate her homesickness. There is another story about the creation of the Gardens,
this story says that the Gardens were built by Assyrian Queen Semiramis during her five year reign
starting in 810 BC, but this story is pretty much forgotten. The lands of Babylon were flat and
desert like, not a mountain for hundreds of miles, and completely lacking of vegetation. The
Hanging Gardens were a green mountain of life rising from the barren desert.
The actual appearance of the Gardens is much disputed as well. Berossus, a Babylonian
priest of about 200 BC described the Gardens as a brick terrace about 400ft square and around
75ft above the ground. Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian states the measurements of the
Gardens to be at about 400 by 400ft and over 80ft tall. Oddly enough, tablets from the time of
Nebuchadnezzar never mention the Gardens. In fact, the Babylonians never really commented on
the Gardens, all of that work was left up to the Greeks, suck as Strabo and Philo. Modern
historians now say that when Alexander?s soldiers reached Mesopotamia that they brought back
stories of Babylon?s greatness. They told stories of the Gardens and palm trees, of
Nebuchadnezzar?s palace, of the Tower of Babel and the Ziggurats, and of the city walls. These
stories were circulated around, and through the imagination of poets and scribes, the story, or
even the story of the existence of one of the wonders of the world came to be. Almost everyone
that wrote about the Gardens can not lay claim to ever seeing them.
The city of Babylon (gate of god) has a pretty interesting history it?s self. All that remains
of a city that was once the largest in the world is a large area of ruins on the East bank of the
Euphrates river. It was the capital of Babylonia in the second and first melennia BC. It profited
greatly because of the fact that it was the hub of over land trade routes between the Persian Gulf
and the Mediterranean sea. Babylon was first mentioned in documents dating to the third
millennium BC. At around 2200 BC it was the site of a temple, and controlled by the nearby city
of Ur. By 1894 BC, Babylon was an independent city state, when the Amorite Sumu-abum
founded their dynasty there. This dynasty reached its climax under Hammurabi, but in 1595 BC
the city was over taken by Hittites, and with that it became subject to the Kassite dynasty, which
lasted from 1590-1155 BC. The Kassites took over all of southern Mesopotamia, and made
Babylon the capital of Babylonia, making it the administrative center for a large kingdom. Later,
around the 12th century BC it became a religious center when its chief god, Marduk was elevated
to the top of the Mesopotamian pantheon. The Kassite dynasty collapsed under pressure from the
Elamites off to the east, after that Babylon was governed by several short-lived dynasties.
Nabopolassar founded the Neo-babylonian dynasty, which his son Nebuchadnezzar II
enlarged until his empire covered much of southwest Asia. Babylon was refurbished with new
temples and palace buildings, disgustingly large walls, and the Hanging Gardens. At this point in
time the city covered over 2500 acres, making it the largest known city in the world. This empire
didn?t last for long, though. Cyrus the Great captured Babylon and incorporated it into his new
empire of Persia. During Persian control, Babylon was home to the royal family. In 482 BC, a
revolt was lead by Xerxes to over come the Persians, as a symbol of their victory, they melted the
statue of Marduk. Alexander the Great captured the city in 330 BC and had plans to rebuild it
into the capital of his vast empire. He died before he could carry out his plans. After 312 BC,
Babylon was used as a capital city by the Seleucid dynasty set up by Alexander?s successors, but
Babylon?s usage as a capital was temporary, once the real capital of the Seleucid dynasty was
built, most of the inhabitants of Babylon moved there, and the city almost disappeared before the
coming of Islam in the 7th century AD.
The Hanging Gardens didn?t really hang, that term just comes from the loose translation of
the Greek word kremastos, or the Latin word pensilis. These two words mean not just hanging,
but overhanging, like in the case of a terrace or balcony, which is what the Gardens were. A
Greek geographer named Strabo wrote in the early first century BC that,
?It consists of vaulted terraces raised one above another, and resting upon cube-shaped
pillars. These are hollow and filled with earth to allow trees of the largest size to be planted. The
pillars, the vaults, and terraces are constructed of baked brick and asphalt. The ascent to the
highest story is by stairs, and at their side are water engines, by means of which persons,
appointed expressly for the purpose, are continually employed in the raising water from the
Euphrates into the garden.? (http://www.unmuseum.mus.pa.us/hangg.htm Lee Krystek) His
associate Philo stated that, ?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 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
The Gardens were irrigated by means of a large chain pump. Heres how it works: There
is a well of water at the bottom of something, and you need to get that water to the top
continuously. A large continous chain is run from the well, to the top of what needs irrigation
(the Gardens), and at this point it goes around a wheel. It continues back down to the bottom,
where it is wrapped around another wheel. Attached to the chain are buckets which collect water
at the bottom, then empty it into a large collecting pool at the top. Thus, one wheel is cranked by
slaves to power the contraption. At the top of the Garden there was a large pool of water, from
this ran several streams of water, these in turn branched off into more streams, and proceeded
down the side of the Gardens. Water reached all the plants on the Garden in this manor.
The Gardens were constructed from mostly mud bricks. These bricks were made up of
clay mixed with chopped up straw, and these were then baked in the sun. This is how all
buildings were made in Babylon, the only flaw with this design is that the bricks dissolve in water.
Because of this, the Gardens were built upon large stone slabs, which are extremely rare in Babel.
The bricks were covered with a protective layer of reeds, asphalt, and tiles.
In 1899 a German archaeologist named Robert Koldewey went to the site of ancient
Babylon. He was there for 14 years. During his stay, he discovered a basement with fourteen
large rooms with stone arch ceilings. Only two locations in the city had architecture like this, the
north wall of the northern citadel, and the Hanging Gardens. The northern wall of the Citadel had
been previously found, so it seams that Koldeway found the Hanging Gardens. He later found a
room with three large, strange holes in the floor, this is a feature reported by Diodorus. The
foundations discovered by Koldeway measured about 100 by 150ft. This is far smaller than the
dimensions given by ancient historians, but is still impressive none the less The one problem with
these ruins in question is that Strabo states that the Gardens were right on the Euphrates river, the
ruins found by Koldeway were sever hundred meters from the river at least. Was Strabo wrong?
Has the river moved? Or is this just not the Hanging Gardens? We may never know.
There are seven official wonders of the Ancient world, they include The Statue of Zeus,
The Temple of Artemis, The Mausoleum, The Colossus, The Lighthouse, the Pyramids, and the
Hanging Gardens. However, there is an eight, unofficial wonder, the walls of the city of Babylon.
There are almost as many stories about these walls as there are about the Gardens. Herodotus
clamed that the outer walls of the city were 56 miles in length, 80ft thick, and 320ft high. He says
that the outer wall was wide enough for a four horse chariot to turn on. They were described as
having been covered with glazed tile and having multiple large brass gates along their length.
Actual archeological finds show that the outer walls were only about 10 miles long, and not nearly
We will probably never know whether the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven
wonders of the ancient world, ever existed. There is reasonable evidence in existance that they
were real, but stories of the Gardens are quite exaggerated. Archeological research is hindered
that the ancient site lies in one of the greatest countries of the modern world Iraq. What puzzles
modern historians is the way in which no one from the time that the Gardens were built
commented on them, and almost all documentation on them was from people who never actually
saw them. The truth may for ever be buried in time.
Works Cited Page
Microsoft Encarta ?95 ?Hanging Gardens Of Babylon? John A. Brinkman
http://www3.islandnet.com/`bedford/sw-han.html Bonnie Bedford, 1995, 1996, 1997
http://www.mmmpcc.org/jerrywalkosz/seven/wonder2.htm No author listed
http://hellas.fwm-sol-dev.com/seven/gardens/htm No author listed
http://www.fgsd.winnipeg.mb.ca/vmc/swaweb/cc/ccswow3.htm No author listed
http://pharos.by.edu/Egypt/Wonders/gardens.html Alaa K. Ashmawy 1995, 1997
http://unmuseum.mus.pa.us/hangg.htm Lee Krystek 1998
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