The ruins of Babylon are approximately 50 miles southwest of modern day Baghdad, Iraq and this is were the most widely accepted story begins. Historians believe the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built around 600 B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his home sick wife, Amytis of Media. She longed for the sights and smells of her beloved home, which was located. King Nebuchadnezzar II brought back plants and animals, placing them in the garden to remind Amytis of her home. It is believed the Hanging Gardens were destroyed by earthquakes around 200 B.C.
Greek historians, Strabo and Diodorus Siculus, visited the beautiful hanging gardens recording dimensions and what they saw. Strabo’s references place the Hanging Gardens near the Euphrates River. Strabo also provided this detailed description of the Hanging Gardens.
“The Garden is quadrangular, and each side is four plethra long. It consists of arched vaults which are located on checkered cube-like foundations.. The ascent of the uppermost terrace-roofs is made by a stairway…”
“The Hanging Garden has plants cultivated above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than in the earth. The whole mass is supported on stone columns… Streams of water emerging from elevated sources flow down sloping channels… These waters irrigate the whole garden saturating the roots of plants and keeping the whole area moist. Hence the grass is permanently green and the leaves of trees grow firmly attached to supple branches… This is a work of art of royal luxury and its most striking feature is that the labor of cultivation is suspended above the heads of the spectators.”
Diodorus Siculus provided his description of the Hanging Gardens. “The approach to the Garden sloped like a hillside and the several parts of the structure rose from one another tier on tier. On all this, the earth had been piled…and was thickly planted with trees of every kind that, by their great size and other charm, gave pleasure to the beholder. The water machines [raised] the water in great abundance from the river, although no one outside could see it.”
Based on the descriptions, water was raised to the top of the Hanging Gardens and allowed to trickle down, irrigating the plants on each level of the garden. In addition, many historians believe the gardens didn’t actually hang, rather grew over the outer layers, providing shade and the visual effect of a Hanging Garden.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was the only Wonder from the Ancient Wonders of the World that cannot be proven to have existed. Only in ancient writings do we find references to the Hanging Gardens existing, but no physical proof has yet to be uncovered.
Quick Facts & Figures
Construction Start: 600 BC
Constructed By: King Nebuchadnezzar II