Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hanging Gardens of Nineveh

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that may not have ever existed. For now, they are purely legendary. The lack of physical evidence among other ancient remains in Babylon (53 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq) cause some to doubt its existence.



Ancient reports of the gardens are enough reason for some to continue the investigation and now a British academic is in the news for her abundance of evidence that the gardens indeed existed, although not in Babylon. Her 20 years of study on the gardens lead her to believe that they were in Nineveh, 300 miles north of Babylon.

Stephanie Dalley of Oxford University deciphered numerous Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform scripts and later reinterpreted Greek and Roman texts. She found descriptions of an "unrivaled place" and a "wonder for all peoples," declared by the great Assyrian king, Sennacherib. Dalley says he was describing Nineveh and its complex system of canals, dams and aqueducts used to bring water to the hanging garden.

Dalley realized that a relief from Sennacherib's palace depicted trees growing on a roofed colonnade exactly described in classical accounts of the garden. She also found that Nineveh may have been regarded as 'New Babylon' which could have led to confusion over where the gardens were thought to exist.



More evidence that Dalley found was in the topography of Babylon itself. The Hanging Gardens were a multi-tiered artificial hill about 25 meters tall and 120 meters across. Trees and flowers were planted along the roof colonnades. It is estimated that at least 9,000 gallons of water was brought by a canal and aqueduct system to maintain the gardens. Babylon's flat countryside would have made it impossible to deliver enough water to maintain gardens of this size. 

"It's taken many years to find the evidence to demonstrate that the gardens and associated system of aqueducts and canals were built by Sennacherib at Nineveh and not by Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. For the first time it can be shown that the Hanging Garden really did exist," said Dr. Dalley.

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