Hanging Gardens of Babylon Existed, Just Not in Babylon: One of Seven Wonders of World Discovered in Nineveh

  • Michael Briggs , Design & Trend Staff Writer
  • May, 06, 2013, 01:32 PM

It has been called one of the seven wonders of the world, but as it turns out, we really knew little about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon until a recent discovery finally pinpointed the existence and location of the famous spot—300 miles north of where legend placed it.

An Oxford University researcher named Stephanie Dalley claims that she has distinguished the location of the Gardens from previous reports in Babylon, spending nearly two decades gathering evidence to identify it in Nineveh, which is in modern-day Iraq. The evidence also points that a completely different king, Assyria's King Sennacherib, rather than the legend's claim of Babylonia's King Nebuchadnezzar, constructed the gardens.

Dalley used her expertise in the region's ancient languages to translate Babylonian, Assyrian, Greek, and Roman texts during her investigation. She found texts where Sennacherib himself spoke of an "unrivalled palace" and a "wonder for all peoples." He also described a water-raising screw constructed using casting bronze-a new invention at the time.

Dr. Dalley believes that this was part of a complex system of canals, dams and aqueducts that brought mountain water from streams 50 miles away to Nineveh and the hanging garden. Recent excavations have shown traces of aqueducts.

According to The Independent, Dalley also found a bas-relief from the Assyrian King's palace that portrayed the famous hanging gardens as trees growing on a roofed colonnade, which was exactly as it was described in classical accounts. It was originally discovered by British archaeologist, Austin Henry Layard, in the 1840s, but was evidently lost in the mid 19th-century and rediscovered crumbling and in poor shape.

The misidentification of the hanging gardens may have been an honest mistake. Dalley found evidence that showed after Sennacherib conquered Babylon, he renamed all the gates of Nineveh after the names traditionally used for Babylon's city gates, which were dedicated to its Gods.

A comparative study done of the topography of Babylon and Nineveh indicated that the flat countryside around Babylon would have made it impossible to supply the water needed to raise the gardens.


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