Introduction

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the Hanging Gardens are the yellow dot in Iraq (the red area)

Babylon was a city in the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia that had many wonders and mysteries. People all over the world have pondered the ancient city of Babylon, but the one mystery that fascinates most people is the legend of the Hanging Gardens which were one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world.






Legend Of The Hanging Gardens


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picture of king Nebuchadnezzar's wife, queen Amytis
Some might think the Hanging Gardens was a cruel place where people were hung. In fact, it is the exact opposite because it is a love story.

King Nebuchadnezzar married queen Amytis to unite his kingdom of Babylon with her kingdom of Persia. Queen Amytis moved to Babylon and soon grew homesick. She missed the breathtaking mountains and greenery of her homeland. The king felt bad for his queen and decided to recreate her home in the form of the Hanging Gardens. Slaves tirelessly worked to create the Hanging Gardens. After hours of tireless work, Queen Amytis soon had a wonderful reminder of Persia and was no longer homesick.

Description Of The Gardens


Herodotus the ancient Greek historian described the gardens. Some people think his description is exaggerated. Herodotus said the outside walls were 56 miles in length, 80 feet
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an Illustration of the Hanging Gardens
thick and 320 feet high. The gardens were rumoured to be breathtaking. Interestingly, the gardens did not hang from above but were built on terraces. The plants were placed on the terraces and overhung to the next level. The word "hang" comes from the Greek word "kremastos" which means overhanging. The video below is very short but worth watching. It describes how someone thought the Hanging Gardens were built and what they looked like. This is exactly how I envisioned the gardens.






The Problem With The Hanging Gardens


The Hanging Gardens were not just a beautiful structure but a garden that needed lots of water. This was a problem because the Hanging Gardens were full of many plants. It hardly rained in Babylon, so the plants didn't have enough water to sustain themselves. This problem was solved with a chain pump which is two large wheels connected by a chain with buckets. The wheels moved the buckets that gathered the water from the from the Euphrates River and deposit it on the terraces of the Hanging Gardens. The water ran down the terraces and delivered water to all the plants. The chain pump was powered by slaves who turned a handle connected to the bottom wheel of the chain pump.


The Disappearance and Reappearance Of The Hanging Gardens


Many people think the Hanging Gardens were destroyed by several earthquakes in the 2nd century BC.
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Picture of Robert Koldewey
Other people believe that the Gardens were destroyed by minor disasters such as erosion and warfare. All we know is that the Hanging Gardens went missing for many years. A man named Robert Koldewey believed the gardens were still there and he was anxious to find them. Robert travelled to Babylon and started searching. He found a basement with large rooms and stone arched ceilings. From other research he knew that only 2 other places in the City of Babylon used stone. Robert Koldewey believed had made a miraculous discovery by finding the cellar of the Hanging Gardens!


Myth Or Reality, Did The Hanging Gardens Ever Exsist?


After Robert Koldewey found what he thought were the Hanging Gardens, others were sceptical and did not even believe the gardens existed. Scholars believe that the building he found was too far from the Euphrates river to be the Hanging Gardens. Another reason that people think the Hanging Gardens were just a myth is because although Herodotus claimed that he had been to Babylon himself to see the gardens there is evidence that he may not have. Edward Gibbon, an English historian and a member of parliament, explored Herodotus' claim and found out that he may have never been to Babylon himself. Another problem is that in one instance Herodotus describes the city of Babylon in detail, but does not mention the Hanging Gardens.

Critical Thinking


Whether the Hanging Gardens were real or not, the ancient description of the gardens probably influenced our architecture and gardens today. In North America we used to have water wheels which probably came form the description of the chain pump. The hanging baskets that we have today are probably influenced by the description of the Hanging Gardens. Many modern buildings and gardens use terraces in their design. Babylon and Mesopotamia had to be very influential if their ideas are still found in our culture today.

Humans could function before gardens but I don't think Humans would be very happy. Happiness is essential for living a good life. People would be living in a world full of greys and blacks. Humans may have been able to live and work but they wouldn't be enjoying their lives, it would just be a long life without colour or joy. People normally wouldn't give a garden a second glance, but secretly that garden is providing that person with some happiness. Before gardens was before colour. Yes I know clothes, food, shelter and all that stuff is essential but what is life without happiness?

Before we had hanging baskets and rooftop gardens, we had the Hanging Gardens. Have you ever wondered what happened in the middle? Well I think Farming is kind of like gardening. I know farming came before the Hanging Gardens but a more cultured type of farming came in the middle. Farming probably evolved into gardening, because the concepts are both the same, it is both planting a seed than harvesting it. People probably thought we already have food now why don't we try farming something colourful? That is how I think Gardening was born.


Closing Paragraph


In addition to learning about Mesopotamia and Babylon, I learned that something doesn't necessarily have to be real to influence later generations. It's important to remember and record good ideas so they don't disappear. A building can disappear but the idea never will.


-By Sydney Stanley

Bibliography is in notes