The Seven Wonders of the World/The Hanging Gardens

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Of all the seven wonders, the hanging gardens of Babylon are perhaps the most elusive. In fact, besides writings from Greek historians, there are no records and no evidence to prove that the hanging gardens of Babylon ever existed. There are not even any Babylonian records or accounts of any hanging gardens.

Tradition says that the hanging gardens were constructed by king Nebuchadnezzar II as a gift for his wife Amyitis of Media.

Large gardens did exist at Nineveh, and it is believed by some historians that accounts of the hanging gardens of Babylon actually referred to the gardens at Nineveh. Tablets recovered from archeological digs at Ninevah show large above-ground gardens, and writings from tablets at Nineveh describe devices similar to Archimedies' Screws that could be used to bring water to the gardens above.

Biography: Nebuchadnezzar II[edit]

Nebukadnessar II.jpg

Nebuchadnezzar II (sometimes also written as Nebuchadrezzar II) was a king of ancient babylon who reigned c. 605 BC-562 BC. He is famous for his conquests of Judah and Jerusalem, his monumental building within his capital of Babylon, his role in the Book of Daniel, and his construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which as legend has it, he made for his wife Amytis of Media because she was homesick for the mountain springs where she grew up.

He is traditionally called "Nebuchadnezzar the Great", but his destruction of temples in Jerusalem and the conquest of Judah caused his vilification in Judaic tradition and in the Bible, (Daniel 1:1; Prophecied Jeremiah 25:11) causing him to be interpreted very differently by western Christians and Jews than in contemporary Iraq, where he is glorified as an historic leader.


Location: Babylon[edit]

Babylon was an ancient city in Mesopotamia (modern Al Hillah, Iraq), the ruins of which can be found in present-day Babil Province, about 80km south of Baghdad. The city itself was built upon the Euphrates, and divided in equal parts along its left and right banks, with steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. Babylon grew in extent and grandeur over time, but gradually became subject to the rule of Assyria.

During the reign of Sennacherib of Assyria, Babylonia was in a constant state of revolt, led by Mushezib-Marduk, and suppressed only by the complete destruction of the city of Babylon. With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, and Nebuchadnezzar II made Babylon into one of the wonders of the ancient world. Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including rebuilding the Etemenanki ziggurat and the construction of the Ishtar Gate — the most spectacular of eight gates that ringed the perimeter of Babylon. The Ishtar Gate survives today in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

In 539 BC the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia. It is said that Cyrus walked through the gates of Babylon without encountering any resistance.

In 331 BC, Darius III was defeated by the forces of the Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela, and in October, Babylon fell to the young conqueror. A native account of this invasion notes a ruling by Alexander not to enter the homes of its inhabitants.

Under Alexander, Babylon again flourished as a centre of learning and commerce. But following Alexander's death in 323 BC in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, his empire was divided amongst his generals, and decades of fighting soon began, with Babylon once again caught in the middle.