Do the hanging gardens of Babylon in Iraq really exist?


Facts about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World

Do the hanging gardens of Babylon in Iraq really exist?

Some stories indicate that hanging garden towers are hundreds of feet high in the air, but archaeological explorations indicate a more modest height, but it is still impressive.

The ancient city of Babylon, under King Nebuchadnezzar II, must have served as a miracle in the eyes of travellers. Historian Herodotus wrote in 450 BC: 'In addition to its size, Babylon excels in the splendor of any city in the well-known world'.

Herodotus claimed the exterior walls were 56 miles long, 80 feet thick and 320 feet high. He said it was wide enough to allow a four-horse cart to spin. The interior walls were 'not as thick as the first, but they are hardly less powerful.'

Inside the walls were forts and temples containing huge statues of pure gold. The famous Tower of Babel, a temple of the Murdoch God, was rising above the city and seemed to have reached the sky.

While archaeological examination has opposed some of Herodotus's claims (the exterior walls appear to be only 10 miles long and not nearly as high), his account gives us a sense of how wonderful the city's landmarks seemed to be to those who visited. 

Interestingly, one of the city's most fascinating sites has not even been mentioned by Herodotus: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Novels indicate that the garden was built by King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled the city for 43 years from 605 BC (there is a less reliable alternative story that the gardens were constructed by The Assyrian Queen Smyramis during her five-year reign starting in 810.

This was the height of the city's power and influence, and King Nebuchadnezzar built an amazing collection of temples, streets, palaces and walls, and according to accounts, the gardens were built to delight Nebuchadnezzar's wife, who was feeling nostalgic for the homeland, which was called Amiitis.

Amitis, the daughter of the King of the Medes, was married to Nebuchadnezzar to create an alliance of nations. However, the land from which it came was rugged and mountainous green, and found the sunny flat terrain of Mesopotamia frustrating.

The king decided to re-establish her homeland by building an artificial mountain with rooftop gardens. of reeds, asphalt and tiles. On top of this was placed 'cover with panels of lead, so as not to spoil the wet that soaks in the ground foundation. Above all, the earth was placed at an appropriate depth, sufficient for the growth of the greatest trees. When the soil was placed evenly and smoothly, it was cultivated with all kinds of trees, which may delight spectators of greatness and beauty.'

Why the hanging gardens are named after that

The suspended gardens were not really a 'suspension' in the sense of suspension from cables or ropes. The name comes from an inaccurate translation of the Greek word kremastos or the Latin word pensilis, which means not only 'suspension', but 'hanging' as in the case of a balcony or balcony. 

Hanging gardens

The Greek geographer Strabo, describing the gardens in the first century BC, wrote, 'Consists of vaulted terraces rising one over the other, based on cube-included columns. They are hollow and full of land to allow larger trees to be planted. Columns, cellars and terraces are built of burnt bricks and asphalt.' 

'Climbing to the highest floor is done by stairs, and next to it there are water engines, through which the persons expressly appointed for this purpose are constantly employed to lift water from the Euphrates River to the park.'

Babylon rarely receives rain, and in order for the park to survive, it had to be irrigated using water from the nearby Euphrates River. This means lifting water away into the air until it flows through the stands, watering plants at each level.

This may have been done by a 'chain pump'. The serial pump is two large wheels, one above the other, connected by a chain. Below the bottom wheel is a swimming pool with a water source.

Serial pump

When the wheel spins, the buckets indulge in the pond and pick up the water. The chain then lifts it to the top wheel, where the buckets are tilted and dumped into an overhead tub, then the empty chain moves down to repack.

Pump wheel

The pool at the top of the gardens can then be released through gates in canals that act as artificial streams to irrigate the gardens. The pump wheel below is attached to a pole and handle.

Connect the pump wheel to a pole and handle

By rotating the handle, slaves provided the power to run the tool. Building the garden was not only complicated by raising water to the top, but also by having to avoid spoiling the liquid for the foundation once it was released. Since it was difficult to get stone in the Mesopotamian plain, most of Babylon's architecture uses bricks.

The bricks were made up of clay mixed with chopped straw and baked in the sun. The bricks were then tied to the beak, a sticky material, acting as a slurry. For most buildings in Babylon, this was not a problem because rain was very rare. However, the gardens were constantly exposed to irrigation and the foundation had to be protected.

Greek historian Diodorus Sekurus Siculus stated that the platforms on which the garden was standing consisted of huge slabs of stone (never heard before in Babylon), covered with layers.

What is the size of the gardens?

Deodoros tells us that it was about 400 feet wide, 400 feet long and more than 80 feet high. Other calculations indicate that the height was equal to the city's outer walls. The walls that Herodotus said were 320 feet high. Anyway, the gardens were an amazing sight: a green mountain, leafy, industrial rising easy. But did it really exist?

How big are the gardens?

After all, Herodotus never mentioned it, and this was one of the questions asked to German archaeologist Robert Coldilloy in 1899. For centuries before that, the ancient city of Babylon was nothing but a pile of muddy ruins. Although unlike many ancient sites, the city's location was well known, nothing is visible left of its architecture.

Coldway has been digging at babylon for fourteen years and has discovered many of its features, including exterior walls, interior walls, the foundation of the Tower of Babel, the Palaces of Nebuchadnezzar and the vast procession route that has paved the heart of the city. While excavating the southern castle, Coldoy discovered a cellar with fourteen large rooms with arched stone ceilings.

Ancient records indicate that only two sites in the city used the stone, namely the northern wall of the Northern Castle and the hanging gardens. The northern wall of the north castle was already found and already contained a stone.

This made it possible that Coldwey had found the garden cellar. He continued to explore the area and discovered many of the features mentioned by Diodoros, finally discovered a room with three large and strange holes in the ground, and Coldoy concluded that this was the site of serial pumps that lifted water to the roof of the garden. 100 × 150 feet. Smaller than the measurements described by ancient historians, but still impressive.

While Coldoy was convinced that the gardens had been found, some modern archaeologists questioned his discovery on the grounds that the site was too far from the river to be irrigated with the amount of water required.

Tablets recently found on the site also indicate that the site was used for administrative and/or storage purposes, not as a recreational park.

Wherever the gardens are located, we can't help but wonder whether Queen Amitis is happy with her wonderful present, or whether she has continued to search for the green mountains of her homeland.