Hanging Gardens of Babylon

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The legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon also known as the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis were a series of extremely large terraced gardens in the ancient Babylon, now about 50 kilometres south of Bagdad in present-day Iraq. They have been routinely included on lists of the Seven Wonders of the World (now generally called the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to distinguish them from modern wonders).

By ancient accounts the Hanging Gardens were huge, terraced gardens, large enough to contain trees. As they were artificially created, lined troughs, with topsoil and irrigation brought in, one can argue that they were massive container gardens. Accounts differ, and the gardens, if they existed at all, may have actually been located on a rooftop.

The accepted story is that in or about 600 BC, Amytis of Media (in Persia), Nebuchadnezzar's wife, missed the lush gardens of her homeland so much that she pined for them to the point of illness. The king had special gardens built for her. These were first described by Berossus, a Chaldean priest in the fourth century BC, with subsequent accounts by later Greek historians. Diodorus Siculus, Strabo and Philo of Byzantium all described the Hanging Gardens, although none had ever seen them. Despite the written record, the gardens have never actually been proven to have existed, and the ancient Babylonian record, although detailed on the subject of Nebuchadnezzar, his city and his palace, is silent on the matter of the Hanging Gardens, which is taken as an indication that they were a product of the imagination, a blended version of true architectural achievements augmented with artistic licence. Nevertheless, they have long been the subject of poetry and art.

An archeological dig led by pioneering German archaeologist Robert Koldewey (1855-1925), who became famous for his excavations of Babylon, unearthed an atypical foundation with chambers, vaults, and what might have been part of a pumping system. Koldewey believed he had found part of the Hanging Gardens, but, since his find was not located in the position described in texts, he may simply have found a series of storerooms.