The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

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Part 2: Other Mysteries

One of the more common mysteries has been how the plants were given water. Babylon, after all, is in the middle of a desert. Excavations in recent years have shed light on this question. Archaeologists now think that a sort of pump system was designed, utilizing buckets of water on a sort of pulley (like our modern conveyor belt). No such object has been found, of course, but the evidence that has been found fits in with this theory.

Another question in relation to the one above is how the foundation of the Gardens was kept intact. The building was made of brick, and the water needed to keep the plants alive must have had to have flown down a sort of drain in order not to soften the brick and make the whole roof collapse. Further, the Gardens were said to have been on several levels of terraces. Surely a drain would have had to have been in place for each terrace level. Archaeologists are still working on this one.

The other big mystery is who had the gardens built. Babylon wasn't exactly a democracy, so we can probably surmise that slaves or laborers built the gardens. But who had them built?

The story traditionally has been that King Nebuchadrezzar II had them built for his Median wife, Amytis, because she missed the gardens of her home. No firsthand accounts of motives for building the Gardens exist, of course, so we are left to assume.

We can probably conclude that the Hanging Gardens existed, based on the theory that enough people saw them and described them. We can probably conclude that the system of providing water to all those plants was remarkable and ingenius, especially given the desert climate and the mechanical capabilities of the ancient Babylonians. We can definitely say that the Hanging Gardens continue to inspire the imagination.

First page > Did They Exist? > Page 1, 2

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David White