Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

             The Gardens of Babylon would be the second oldest of the ancient wonders. Built in the 6th century, the gardens are long gone. Some scholars argue that the reason there's no record of them is precisely because they were gardens -- plants and flowers are living things that eventually die. Even if the structure on which the gardens were affixed remains, it could very well be in unrecognizable ruins.

              We'll start with the most popular theories about the gardens. They were likely located by the Euphrates River in what is now modern-day Iraq. This most famous and attractive garden in the world. The gardens didn't actually hang: They draped over the sides of terraces on a brick structure. Some accounts of the gardens claim that they grew as high as stone columns t (22.86 meters) in the air and that people could walk beneath them. Accounts from the classical writer Diodorus Siculus describe that the brick walls were 22 feet (6.7 meters) thick and 400 feet (121 meters) wide. And Philo wrote that there were several strata of flora and many levels of irrigation

              Whether the garden existed or not, this is how it has been described by ancient Greek sources: "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. The grass is permanently green and the leaves of trees grow firmly attached to supple branches." Exotic flowers and plants covered the terraces. Shade came from cypresstrees  and there was a rich smell of aromatic plants and flowers in the air. Nebuchadnezzar had every kind of tree and plant you can think of
             They couldn't just turn the sprinkler on back then so how did the plants survive? One of the most amazing parts of the garden is the watering system. Water from the nearby trees and palms was lifted far into the air so it could flow down the terraces, watering the several levels of trees and flowers. This was probably done with a chain pumps. Two large wheels, connected by a chain, turned and the buckets dipped into a pool and picked up water. The chain then lifted the buckets to the upper wheel where the water was tipped into an upper pool. The empty buckets kept turning and ended up back in the bottom pool. There is no evidence to support this theory, and there's no evidence that says the garden even existed. Regardless, the garden sounds impressive. It makes you wonder, did it remind Amyitis of her home land?

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