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Hanging Gardens of Babylon: History, Facts & Location

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  • 0:05 The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • 0:44 Accounts of the…
  • 2:05 One of Seven Ancient Wonders
  • 3:18 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, you'll explore the history, creation, and legend of the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon. After completing the lesson, test your understanding about ancient cultures, art, and architecture with a brief quiz.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Many people in cities and other crowded places have potted plants on their outdoor patios, but most of these people probably don't think anyone is about to marvel at the wonder of their 'hanging gardens.' Of course, those 'hanging gardens' were probably more sophisticated than potted plants on patios we see today.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the greatest engineering achievements of the ancient world. Although the exact location has never been uncovered, the Kingdom of Babylon, in which the Gardens were said to exist, was in the region around modern-day Iraq. The Hanging Gardens have been described as the ideal representation of a horticultural landscape.

Accounts of the Hanging Gardens

Although the actual Hanging Gardens have never been found, their creation is usually attributed to a Babylonian ruler known as King Nebuchadnezzar II, who ruled from 605-562 BCE. According to some legends, he had the Hanging Gardens built for his wife, Queen Amytis, who missed the green valleys of her home in northern Iran.

Written accounts tell us that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built into a complex of stairs, terraces, and buildings that required advanced irrigation to water the Gardens and advanced architecture to support the weight of the massive Gardens. According to the accounts, the walls were 22 feet thick, with ten-foot wide hallways. The terraces were made with reeds and baked bricks underneath a layer of lead to create a foundation that would hold moisture. Mounds of soil were placed on top of this that were deep enough for the roots of trees.

The oldest account of the Gardens comes from the Babylonian priest Berossus, around the year 290 BCE. Later, after Alexander the Great expanded his empire to include most of the Mediterranean region, it became common for Greeks and others to travel across the empire and explore the cultures of Egypt, Persia, and Babylon.

One of Seven Ancient Wonders

At some point around the 4th century BCE, the Greeks developed a list of seven must-see sights for travelers that was made up of some of the most remarkable building projects in the ancient world. In essence, it was the world's first travel guide. This list became known as the Seven Wonders of the World. There were several versions of this list, which didn't really become standardized until around 140 BCE.

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