The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon

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The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the most controversial wonders of the world, simply because their existence can not be proved or denied. Many early historians talked about the Gardens, many did not. They today would lay inside of the great nation of Iraq, so archeological research is rather difficult for obvious reasons, the site is said to be 50 miles south of present day Baghdad. Their existence will probably never be proven or denied. In fact, all we know about the Gardens is based on myths, so neither I nor anyone can be truly right when talking about them. Legend has it that the Gardens were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II to please his favorite wife named Amytis. Amytis was lonely for her fertile homeland of Media, and the king built the Gardens to alleviate her homesickness. There is another story about the creation of the Gardens, this story says that the Gardens were built by Assyrian Queen Semiramis during her five year reign starting in 810 BC, but this story is pretty much forgotten. The lands of Babylon were flat and desert like, not a mountain for hundreds of miles, and completely lacking of vegetation. The Hanging Gardens were a green mountain of life rising from the barren desert. The actual appearance of the Gardens is much disputed as well. Berossus, a Babylonian priest of about 200 BC described the Gardens as a brick terrace about 400ft square and around 75ft above the ground. Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian states the measurements of the Gardens to be at about 400 by 400ft and over 80ft tall. Oddly enough, tablets from the time of Nebuchadnezzar never mention the Gardens. In fact, the Babylonians never really commented on the Gardens, all of that work was left up to the Greeks, suck as Strabo and Philo. Modern historians now say that when Alexander's soldiers reached Mesopotamia that they brought back stories of Babylon's greatness. They told stories of the Gardens and palm trees, of Nebuchadnezzar's palace, of the Tower of Babel and the Ziggurats, and of the city walls. These stories were circulated around, and through the imagination of poets and scribes, the story, or even the story of the existence of one of the wonders of the world came to be. Almost everyone that wrote about the Gardens can not lay claim to ever seeing them. The city of Babylon (gate of god) has a pretty interesting history it's self. All that remains of a city that was once the largest in the world is a large area of ruins on the East bank of the Euphrates river. It was the capital of Babylonia in the second and first melennia BC. It profited greatly because of the fact that it was the hub of over land trade routes between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean sea. Babylon was first mentioned in documents dating to the third millennium BC. At around 2200 BC it was the site of a temple, and controlled by the nearby city of Ur. By 1894 BC, Babylon was an independent city state, when the Amorite Sumu-abum founded their dynasty there. This dynasty reached its climax under Hammurabi, but in 1595 BC the city was over taken by Hittites, and with that it became subject to the Kassite dynasty, which lasted from 1590-1155 BC. The Kassites took over all of southern Mesopotamia, and made Babylon the capital of Babylonia, making it the administrative center for a large kingdom. Later, around the 12th century BC it became a religious center when its chief god, Marduk was elevated to the top of the Mesopotamian pantheon. The Kassite dynasty collapsed under pressure from the Elamites off to the east, after that Babylon was governed by several short-lived dynasties. Nabopolassar founded the Neo-babylonian dynasty, which his son Nebuchadnezzar II enlarged until his empire covered much of southwest Asia. Babylon was refurbished with new temples and palace buildings, disgustingly large walls, and the Hanging Gardens. At this point in time the city covered over 2500 acres, making it the largest known city in the world. This empire didn't last for long, though. Cyrus the Great captured Babylon and incorporated it into his new empire of Persia. During Persian control, Babylon was home to the royal family. In 482 BC, a revolt was lead by Xerxes to over come the Persians, as a symbol of their victory, they melted the statue of Marduk. Alexander the Great captured the city in 330 BC and had plans to rebuild it into the capital of his vast empire. He died before he could carry out his plans. After 312 BC, Babylon was used as a capital city by the Seleucid dynasty set up by Alexander's successors, but Babylon's usage as a capital was temporary, once the real capital of the Seleucid dynasty was built, most of the inhabitants of Babylon moved there, and the city almost disappeared before the coming of Islam in the 7th century AD. The Hanging Gardens didn't really hang, that term just comes from the loose translation of the Greek word kremastos, or the Latin word pensilis. These two words mean not just hanging, but overhanging, like in the case of a terrace or balcony, which is what the Gardens were. A Greek geographer named Strabo wrote in the early first century BC that, "It consists of vaulted terraces raised one above another, and resting upon cube-shaped pillars. These are hollow and filled with earth to allow trees of the largest size to be planted. The pillars, the vaults, and terraces are constructed of baked brick and asphalt. The ascent to the highest story is by stairs, and at their side are water engines, by means of which persons, appointed expressly for the purpose, are continually employed in the raising water from the Euphrates into the garden." (http://www.unmuseum.mus.pa.us/hangg.htm Lee Krystek) His associate Philo stated that, "The garden is quadrangular, and each side is four plethra long. It consists of arched vaults which are located on checkered cube-like foundations... The ascent of the uppermost terrace-roofs is made by a stairway... The hanging Garden has plants cultivated above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than in the earth. The whole mass is supported on stone columns... Streams of water emerging from elevated sources flow down sloping channels... These waters irrigate the whole garden saturating the roots of plants and keeping the whole area moist. Hence the grass is permanently green and the leaves of trees grow firmly attached to supple branches... This is a work of art of royal luxury and its most striking feature is that the labor of cultivation is suspended above the heads of the spectators" The Gardens were irrigated by means of a large chain pump. Heres how it works: There is a well of water at the bottom of something, and you need to get that water to the top continuously. A large continous chain is run from the well, to the top of what needs irrigation (the Gardens), and at this point it goes around a wheel. It continues back down to the bottom, where it is wrapped around another wheel. Attached to the chain are buckets which collect water at the bottom, then empty it into a large collecting pool at the top. Thus, one wheel is cranked by slaves to power the contraption. At the top of the Garden there was a large pool of water, from this ran several streams of water, these in turn branched off into more streams, and proceeded down the side of the Gardens. Water reached all the plants on the Garden in this manor. The Gardens were constructed from mostly mud bricks. These bricks were made up of clay mixed with chopped up straw, and these were then baked in the sun. This is how all buildings were made in Babylon, the only flaw with this design is that the bricks dissolve in water. Because of this, the Gardens were built upon large stone slabs, which are extremely rare in Babel. The bricks were covered with a protective layer of reeds, asphalt, and tiles. In 1899 a German archaeologist named Robert Koldewey went to the site of ancient Babylon. He was there for 14 years. During his stay, he discovered a basement with fourteen large rooms with stone arch ceilings. Only two locations in the city had architecture like this, the north wall of the northern citadel, and the Hanging Gardens. The northern wall of the Citadel had been previously found, so it seams that Koldeway found the Hanging Gardens. He later found a room with three large, strange holes in the floor, this is a feature reported by Diodorus. The foundations discovered by Koldeway measured about 100 by 150ft. This is far smaller than the dimensions given by ancient historians, but is still impressive none the less The one problem with these ruins

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