The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is considered one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. It’s location is described as being about 50 miles south of Baghdad in present day Al Hillah, Babil, Iraq. It’s construction was an act of love by King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon, who ruled Babylon in 605 BC, to please his home sick wife, Amytis of Media. Amytis missed the beautiful scenery of her home; the mountainous, lush landscape of Persian. The Hanging Gardens was an engineering marvel, which was able to feed fresh water from the Euphrates River up an incline to this lush oasis surrounded by the parch desert.
Specifications for the size of the Hanging Gardens differ among the sources. Herodotus claimed the outer walls of Babylon were 56 miles in length, 80 feet thick and 320 feet high. The Greek Historian, Diodorus, states the Garden was 100 feet (30 m) long by 100 ft wide and built up in tiers so that it resembled a theatre. Other historians come up with different, yet still very impressive dimensions to this Garden.
How the Hanging Gardens of Babylon received the much needed water from the Euphrates is still in question. Some claim a form of the Archimedes Screw was used to push the water up to the foliage, while other researchers believe it was a chain attached to two wheels that used buckets to scoop up the water and transported uphill in a trolley like fashion. Since the Hanging Gardens elevated above the landscape, huge stone slabs were used to keep the soil from eroding away. These stones were a scarce item in Babylon, and mostly unheard of to the common citizen of the area. The name, “Hanging Gardens” may also be mistakenly applied, since it is an incorrect translation from Greek literature and most likely meant “overhanging”.
The true mystery of the Hanging Gardens is whether this ancient wonder ever actually existed. Surely, something impressive as this would be recorded by the local residents. But it is not. Herodotus, a historian in 450 BC wrote extensively on the beauty of Babylon but did not menton the Hanging Gardens at all. In fact, all of the historical records of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon come from Greek historians such as Strabo and Diodorus – who have never visited the place. There is absolutely no mention of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in any Babylon record of that time.
Even the credit of who supposedly built the Gardens is in question. Most accounts give this credit to Nebuchadnezzar, but recent scholars propose that it was under the direction of Sennacherib, who reigned over Assyria from 705 BC to 681 BC.
A likely scenario stems from the invading armies of Alexander the Great, whose soldiers returned back to their homeland praising the beauty and splendor of Mesopotamia and the architectural beauty of the Tower of Babel. As with most accounts that get passed from person to person, embellishment may have occured that also introduced these Hanging Gardens.
If the Hanging Gardens of Babylon truly existed, it has most likely been eroded by the elements and swallowed by the desert. Because as of today, there still is no solid evidence of its location or its actual existence.