Sunday, 10 November 2013

Geography Sundays... Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Whilst helping a friend devise a quiz this week, I stumbled across the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. For once, I actually knew something that someone else didn't about a place! She thought it was a current real place that you could visit. I knew that it's mostly discussed in mythology and no one knows if it's real and / or it's location. Score for me!
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon (HGB from now on) are considered one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World - alongside: the Great Pyramid of Giza; the temple of Artemis; Statue of Zeus at Olympia; Mausoleum at Halicarnassus; Lighthouse of Alexandria; Colossus of Rhodes - but it's the only one that's location  has never been determined, a bit like the Lost City of Atlantis.
There's been several depictions of HGB over the years but most show a lush, Utopian paradise with beautiful vegetation and flowing rivers, like the one below.
The lack of evidence of its existence has caused most historians to refute any of the writings of it by the likes of Quintus Curtius Rufus (no, I never heard of him before either).
Various writers have described it as a myriad of cubes, immensely wide with the grossly thick walls and they also place a lot of emphasis on irrigation.
Still to this day there is no archaeological evidence of it having ever existed. It is possible that there is proof lying under the Euphrates (river) but it is physically impossible to excavate it to investigate.

What we do know is that it's most likely location is in the Middle East, specifically in either Hillah or Nineveh, both in Iraq.
One of the most common tales of the HGB is that Emperor Nebuchadnezzar II create them for his Persian Wife Queen Amytis as she missed the lush waters and greenery of her homeland.
Whichever location, for whichever reason, I'd like the believe they did exist and that it'll be a mystery that we never get to the bottom of. Sometimes, life is good with a little extra mystery!

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