‘Hanging’ Gardens, literally

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Apr 2018 10:45:03




The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was located 300 miles to the north in Babylon’s greatest rival Nineveh, a leading Oxford-based historian has claimed. After researching for more than 20 years, Dr. Stephanie Dalley of Oxford University’s Oriental Institute, finally pieced together enough evidence to prove that the gardens were built in Nineveh by the great Assyrian ruler Sennacherib - and not by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Independent reported. She first publicly proposed her idea that Nineveh, not Babylon, was the site of the gardens back in 1992 but it’s taken a further two decades to find enough evidence to prove it. First, after studying later historical descriptions of the Hanging Gardens, she realized that a bas-relief from Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh actually portrayed trees growing on a roofed colonnade exactly as they were described in classical accounts of the gardens.


Further research suggested that, after Assyria sacked and conquered Babylon in 689 BC, the Assyrian capital Nineveh may have been regarded as the ‘New Babylon’ – thus creating the later belief that the Hanging Gardens were in fact in Babylon itself.

Her research revealed that at least one other town in Mesopotamia - a city called Borsippa – was being described as “another Babylon” as early as the 13 century BC, thus implying that in antiquity the name could be used to describe places other than the real Babylon. A breakthrough occurred when Dalley found that after Sennacherib sacked and conquered Babylon, he actually renamed all the gates of Nineveh after the names traditionally used for Babylon’s city gates. Babylon always named its gates after its gods and after the Assyrians sacked Babylon, the monarch simply renamed Nineveh’s city gates after those same gods.


She then looked at the comparative topography of Babylon and Nineveh and observed that the flat countryside around the real Babylon would have made it impossible to deliver sufficient water to maintain the raised gardens described in the classical sources. Finally her research suggested that the original classical descriptions of the Gardens were written by historians who actually visited Nineveh area.

Researching the post-Assyrian history of Nineveh, she realized that Alexander the Great had actually camped near the city in 331BC – just before he defeated the Persians at the famous battle of Gaugamela. It’s known that Alexander’s army actually camped by the side of one of the great aqueducts that carried water to what Dr. Dalley now believes was the site of the Hanging Gardens. Alexander had on his staff several Greek historians including Callisthenes, Cleitarchos and Onesicritos, whose works have long been lost to posterity – but significantly those particular historians’ works were sometimes used as sources by the very authors who several centuries later described the gardens in works that have survived to this day.