The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Babylon, in what is now Iraq, was founded over 5,500 years ago in the rich land of Mesopotamia, the Land Between the Rivers. Herodotus says

The city stands on a broad plain, and is an exact square, a hundred and twenty furlongs in length each way, so that the entire circuit is four hundred and eighty furlongs. While such is its size, in magnificence there is no other city that approaches to it. It is surrounded, in the first place, by a broad and deep moat, full of water, behind which rises a wall fifty royal cubits in width, and two hundred in height. (The royal cubit is longer by three fingers' breadth than the common cubit.)

Accounts indicate that construction on the Gardens started in 605BC, during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, although some say they were build much earlier, in 810BC by by Queen Semiramis.

Nebuchadnezzar was married to Amyitis, the daughter of the king of the Medes. She didn't much like the flat, sunbaked plaines of Mesopotamia and much preferred the rugged, green land where she was raised. To please her the King build her a garden, shaped like a mountain. Strabo described the Gardens in the 1st Century BC as

"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 raising water from the Euphrates into the garden"

This watering of the garden was a feat not only because of getting the water on top of the garden, but also because the whole hill was made out of sundried clay and reed bricks that would 'rot' if they got wet.

Diodorus Siculus, another Greek historian, tells us the platforms were covered with slabs of stone and lead sheets to keep the water from reaching the building's foundations. He also tells us the gardens were some 120 meters on the side and more than 25 meters high.

Early last century a German archeologist discovered the foundations from what might have been the Gardens, the place measured some 30 by 50 meters. Smaller than Diodorus claimed, but still impressive.

Other sights in ancient Babylon.