Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are often included in the list of the seven wonders of the ancient world along with the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis and the Statue of Zeus.  These gardens were written about by historians suggesting a romantic lush landscape filled with colorful flowers cascading down from the sky.  The magnificence felt by looking at them must have been quite a sight.  The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are not standing today, and even their entire existence is debated, because of the lack of documentation about them in the chronicles of Babylonian history.  Many scholars doubt that they were ever built and it is felt that they are just a legend.

The best description of these gardens comes from the historian Herodotus, who is often called the ‘father of history’, although some call him the ‘father of lies’.  Herodotus wrote a book called History and in it he wanted to do more than just simply retell the events of the past, he wanted to prove a point and make sure the people of the future remembered and learned from the events of the past, so he embellished many of his stories.  If there are some records still remaining about these hanging gardens, they would probably be in cuneiform on clay tablets, and since none of these tablets were ever found and also since there are not many people left in the world who can actually read cuneiform, no hard evidence exists.  Thus it is thought that these gardens may have been merely a figment of ancient imaginations, a story to be told in the annals of ancient myth and history.  It makes a good story, so let’s roll with it.

It is said that the Hanging Gardens were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II who ruled Babylon from 605BC, for a period of 43 years.  During this time the city of Babylon, must have been a wonder to the ancient traveler’s eyes.  According to accounts, the gardens were built to cheer up Nebuchadnezzar’s wife, Amyitis who was the daughter of the king of the Medes, and they were married to create an alliance between the two nations.  Amyitis was homesick, she missed her fertile and mountainous home, she longed for the fragrance of its plants and flowers.  Amyitis found living in the flat sun baked and arid terrain around the city of Babylon to be quite depressing.  Medes the land where she came from, which is now in the western and north-western portion of present-day Iran was moist and wet, rugged and full of green mountains, almost a complete opposite of Babylon.  The king decided to relieve her depression by recreating her homeland through the building of an artificial mountain with rooftop gardens.  These elaborate gardens were constructed to replicate her lush homeland and make her happy again.

They are called the Hanging Gardens because the gardens were built high above the ground on multi-level stone terraces, so in actuality they were overhanging gardens.  The plants weren’t rooted in the earth like a traditional garden, as they were made up of a simulated mountain with rooftop gardens.  They were probably supported by baked brick columns that would have been filled with dirt to allow large plantings and trees to root and grow.  The effect of the plants hanging down over the years likely gave the image of a lush mountain landscape, seemingly hanging in mid-air.

Babylon rarely received rain and for the garden to survive, it would have had to have been irrigated by using water from the nearby Euphrates River.  If the gardens actually existed, it would have taken 8,200 gallons of water each day to keep the plants watered.  The water would have had to have been carried up or transported to the top of the gardens by a primitive water irrigation system.  The gardens were thought to be about 75 feet high and 400 feet square in area, that featured an elaborate irrigation system from the river to the gardens.  That meant lifting the water high into the air, so it could flow down through the terraces, watering the plants at each level.

Historians speculated on the many different methods that could have been used for this ancient water delivery system.  The southern palace of Nebuchadnezzar was constructed around five courtyards which included the king’s private quarter and the quarters for his harems.  Within the palace was a throne room and in two rooms behind the throne room were two oblong and one central square well shafts that were all located close together.  At the top of the shaft was a wheel with an endless chain of pottery buckets that brought water up an oblong shaft, and the buckets would descend down the opposite oblong well shaft.  The central square shaft was an inspection shaft for cleaning and repairs.  Animals or human slaves provided the power to move the water buckets up and down this brigade.

A chain pump consisting of two large wheels, one above the other, connected by a chain may have been used to irrigate the gardens.  Buckets were hung on this chain.  A pool with the water source was thought to be below the bottom wheel.  As the wheel is turned, the buckets dip into the pool and pick up water.  The chain then lifts them to the upper wheel, where the buckets are tipped and dumped into an upper pool.  The chain then carries the empty buckets back down to be refilled.  The pool at the top of the gardens could then be released by gates into channels which acted as artificial streams to water the gardens.  The pump wheel stationed below was attached to a shaft and a handle.  By turning the handle, slaves provided the power to run the contraption.

An alternate method of getting the water to the top of the gardens might have been a screw pump.  This device looks like a trough with one end in the lower pool from which the water is taken with the other end overhanging an upper pool to which the water is being lifted.  Fitting tightly into the trough is a long screw.  As the screw is turned, water is caught between the blades of the screw and forced upwards.  When it reaches the top, it falls into the upper pool.  Turning the screw can be done by a hand crank.  A different design of screw pump mounts the screw inside a tube, which takes the place of the trough.  In this case the tube and screw turn together to carry the water upward.

These gardens must have been spectacular to behold.  Is it possible that these Hanging Gardens of Babylon were actually built in Mosel and that they were recently destroyed by ISIS?  Historians wrote about why they were built, how they were built, and their size and they even went as far as describing how the gardens were watered.  If they are just a myth, then why did these historians spend so much time describing this masterpiece of ancient history?

37 thoughts on “Hanging Gardens of Babylon

  1. Maybe it was a Persian Wheel. I read about different medieval technologies in Asia, and still believe that these ancient cultures were just wonderful in their technological advances..

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Strange it’s a bone of contention for historians just like Gardens of Babylon.. Some attribute the technology to Egypt..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I guess people will always want to quarrel about something, but it makes a great story and it should be appreciated. I look at it as a story of the extreme lengths that a man is willing to go through to keep his wife happy.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Shah Jahan became rich from the spice trade and he was a patron of the arts, yes the Taj Mahal is extravagant, but I think it is good for man to create things that have lasting beauty.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Under Shah Jahan’s patronage jewelry reached a high degree of perfection, and jewelers from both Asia and Europe visited the Mogul court to sell their craft and gems. Yet in spite of all these lavish expenditures, the imperial treasury was never in debt; in fact, Shah Jahan ended his reign with more money in the treasury than he had at the beginning of his reign.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Let me tell you something Jim. The statement is incorrect. There are enough evidence to proof that Shah Jahan lavish expenditure made Mughals struggle financially.. I don’t know who wrote that piece on encyclopedia.com but it ain’t true..

        Liked by 1 person

      6. No, I mean maths Jim, true numbers. OK Rana Safvi and others have proven it with their works.. I know it because I presented a term paper on Asian Dynasties..

        Liked by 1 person

      7. As to your question from the other day, I just got a response back from Fandango and here are his words. ‘He’d be better off asking Sandi. At my age, holding a baby is but a distant memory.’


      8. As to your question from the other day, I just got a response back from Fandango and here are his words. ‘He’d be better off asking Sandi. At my age, holding a baby is but a distant memory.’

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Don’t worry. Hmm.. You know I am not a bully.. Never was.. But somehow when I comment it makes me feel like I am bullying someone..

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I am happy that you got pleasure from my post, but it is not meant to be a lesson. I look at a lesson as something that you have to endure and I want my writing to be enjoyed. A few things in life that I am passionate about are water, math and history. I work as a substitute teacher and I never know what subject I will get from day to day, but I actually do not teach the students any of my own lessons. I do instruct them with the teacher’s lessons and if time permits, I tell them stories.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I meant “lesson” in the most positive sense of the word. Not in the sense that you were lecturing or that it was something I had to endure, as much as I that learned something from having read your post. Something I found interesting, informative, and entertaining. So it’s all good.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You always have such an excellent disposition, you come off as being friendly all the time and it seems like nothing ever bothers you. Projecting this kind and benevolent attitude is going to take you far in life. By the way, Sight wants me to ask you how it feels to hold a baby.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I try to look at life from the perspective of the glass being half full, although with Trump as POTUS, that’s getting harder and harder.

        Why would Sight want to ask me that question? And why doesn’t he ask me himself instead of asking you to ask me?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It seems that he has never held a baby before and he asked me how it feels, but I told him that he would get better information if he were to ask you or Sandi, as I never had any children. He said he would contact Sandi and he requested that I ask you for him.


      5. It seems that he has never held a baby before and he asked me how it feels, but I told him that he would get better information if he were to ask you or Sandi, as I never had any children. He said he would contact Sandi and he requested that I ask you for him.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hey, you see the pic. of Jim holding the baby. I asked how it felt? There that started this whole conversation.

        And you have a 10 year old son. Seriously you are not that old…

        Liked by 2 people

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