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Ancient Mesopotamia Gardens: Hanging Gardens, Royal Gardens Design

Mesopotamia was the alluvial plain lying between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, composing parts of Iraq and Syria. More commonly, the term includes these river plains in totality as well as the surrounding lowland territories bounded by the Arabian Desert to the west and south, the Persian Gulf to the southeast, the Zagros Mountains to the east and the Caucasus mountains to the north. Mesopotamia is famous for the site of some of the oldest civilizations in the world.

The Hanging Gardens probably did not really "hang" in the sense of being suspended from cables or ropes. The name comes from an inexact translation of the Greek word kremastos, or the Latin wordpensilis, which means not just "hanging", but "overhanging" as in the case of a terrace or balcony.

In the South of Iraq between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers the Sumerians built some of the earliest known cities. More than 5,000 years ago the legendary Gardens of Eden were said to have been sited there. The ancient places are no more, but up to the middle of the twentith century the rural population lived a life that had changed little over the course of time.



The royal gardens of Mesopotamia were huge by any standard. Sennacherib, for example, had to build almost six miles of major irrigation canals to water the royal gardens of Nineveh. Unlike Egypt, space was not a problem in Assyria and Babylonia, which might account for one major difference in their gardens: the lack of extreme orderliness. In Mesopotamia, the land was used as it was found, with hillsides, depressions, streams, paths and canals incorporated into the garden's plan.

This legendary garden, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was built on the banks of the Euphrates river circa 600 B.C. It may never have existed except in the imagination of Greek poets and historians although archaeologists claim to have found the remains of its walls.

Most scholars attribute its construction to King Nebuchadnezzar II to console his Median wife, Amytis, who missed the mountains and greenery of her home land. Others contend that it was the work of the semi-legendary Assyrian Queen Sammu-Ramat. The Gardens didn't really "hang" but were built on terraces which were part of the ziggurat and was irrigated by water lifted up from the Euphrates.

The Sumerian palaces were beautifully decorated with gate guardian figures. Sculptures were erect, stylised figures characterised by clasped hands and huge eyes. It was the Sumerians who produced many small, finely carved cylindrical seals made of marble, alabaster, carnelian, lapis lazuli, and stone. A Sumerian container inlayed with shell, lapis lazuli and limestone depicts war and peace.

 

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