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 gardens, famous as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, were, according to Stephanie Dalley, an Oxford University Assyriologist, located some 340 miles north of ancient Babylon in Nineveh, on the Tigris River by Mosul in modern Iraq.It is called the Hanging Gardens because the gardens were built high above the ground on multi-level stone terraces. The plants weren’t rooted in the earth like a traditional garden. If it existed it was likely the most beautiful man-made gardens ever created.The exotic nature of the gardens compared to the more familiar Greek items on the list and the mystery surrounding their location and disappearance have made the Hanging Gardens of Babylon the most captivating of all the Seven Wonders.They were also described as having been watered by an exceptional system of irrigation and roofed with stone balconies on which were layered various materials, such as reeds, bitumen, and lead, so that the irrigation water would not seep through the terraces.

The majority of scholars agree that the idea of cultivating gardens purely for pleasure, as opposed to the production of food, originated in the Fertile Crescent, where they were known as a paradise. From there the notion would spread throughout the ancient Mediterranean so that by Hellenistic times even private individuals, or at least the wealthier ones, were cultivating their own private gardens in their homes. Gardens were not just about flowers and plants, either, as architectural, sculptural, and water features were added, and even the views were a consideration for the ancient landscape gardener. Gardens became such a desired feature that fresco painters, such as those at Pompeii, covered entire walls of villas with scenes which gave the illusion that on entering a room one was also entering a garden. All of these outdoor pleasant places, then, owed their existence to ancient Mesopotamia and, above all, to the magnificent Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were the fabled gardens which beautified the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, built by its greatest king Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 605-562 BCE). One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, they are the only wonder whose existence is disputed amongst historians, scholars claim the gardens were not in Babylon but actually at Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian Empire, while others stick with the ancient writers and await archaeology to provide positive proof. Still others believe the gardens are merely a figment of the ancient imagination. Archaeology at Babylon itself and ancient Babylonian texts are silent on the matter, but ancient writers describe the gardens as if they were at Nebuchadnezzar’s capital and still in existence in Hellenistic times. Compared to the more familiar Greek entries on the list, the garden’s exotic nature and the mystery surrounding their whereabouts and disappearances have made Babylon’s Hanging Gardens the most fascinating of all the Seven Wonders.


Terminology : 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 word “Pensilis”, which refers not simply “hanging”, but “overhanging” as in the case of a terrace or balcony. The first mention in an Ancient source of the GARDENS is by  BEROSSUS OF KOS C. 290 BCE

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 twentieth century the rural population lived a life that had changed little over the course of time.

While archaeological excavations have challenged some of Herodotus’s claims (the outer walls appear to be only 10 miles long and not nearly as high), his account gives us an idea of ​​how amazing the city’s features must have seemed to the ancients who visited. However, it is strange that one of the most remarkable places of the city is not even mentioned by Herodotus: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. He claimed that the outer walls were 56 miles long, 80 feet thick, and 320 feet high. Wide enough, he said, for two four-horse wagons to pass. The city also had inner walls which were “not so strong as the first, but scarcely less strong”. Inside these double walls were forts and temples containing huge statues of solid gold. Above the city rose the famous Tower of Babylon, the temple of the god Marduk, which seemed to reach to the heavens.

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.Several other sources describe gardens as if they still existed in the 4th century B.C.E. . The Greek geographer Strabo (c. 64 BC – c. 24 AD) describes the arrangement of the gardens, describing the complex screw machines that drew water from the Euphrates and rivers that passed through ancient Babylon and supplied them with water. garden. He also mentioned that there are stairs to reach different levels.

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.

Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian, stated that the platforms on which the garden stood consisted of huge slabs of stone (otherwise unheard of in Babylon), covered with layers of reeds, asphalt and tiles. Over this was laid a “blanket of sheets of lead, that the moisture which seeped through the earth might not rot the foundation. Over all this was laid earth of suitable depth, sufficient for the growth of the largest trees. laid level and smooth, it was planted with trees of all kinds, which both in size and they could delight the audience with their beauty.”

How big were the gardens?

Diodorus tells us they were about 400 feet wide, 400 feet long, and over 80 feet high. Other accounts suggest that the height was equal to the outer city walls, walls that Herodotus said were 320 feet high. In any case, the gardens were an amazing sight: a green, leafy artificial mountain rising from the plain.

A gift for a homesick wife

Reports suggest that the garden was built by King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled the city for 43 years starting in 605 BC (There is an alternative story that Queen Semiramis of Assyria built the gardens during her five-year reign starting in 810 BC). This was the height of the city’s power and influence, and King Nebuchadnezzar is known to have built an amazing array of temples, streets, palaces and walls.

According to reports, the gardens were built to cheer up Nebuchadnezzar’s homesick wife Amyitis.  Amyitis, the daughter of the king of the Medes, married Nebuchadnezzar to form an alliance between the two nations. But the land she came from was green, rugged and mountainous, and she found the flat, sun-baked terrain of Mesopotamia depressing. The king decided to alleviate her depression by restoring her homeland through the construction of an artificial mountain with roof gardens.

Building a garden

The construction of the garden was not only complicated by the fact that the water reached the top, but also by the fact that it was necessary to prevent the liquid from destroying the foundations after it was released. Since stone was difficult to obtain on the Mesopotamian plain, most of the architecture at Babel used brick. The bricks were composed of clay mixed with chopped straw and fired in the sun. These were then connected with bitumen, a slimy substance that functioned as a mortar. Unfortunately, due to the materials they were made from, the bricks quickly dissolved when soaked in water. This was not a problem for most of the buildings in Babel because rain was so rare. However, the gardens were constantly exposed to irrigation and the foundations had to be protected

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.

What were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon made of?

Mud brick
Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Made of: Adobe bricks waterproofed with lead. Other: Some archaeologists believe that the actual location was not in Babylon, but 350 miles north in the city of Nineveh. The city of Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar II. it must have been a wonder to the eyes of the ancient traveller.


Who Destroyed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?

Assyrian Sennacherib was responsible for the temples. Assyrian Sennacherib destroyed the great temples of Babylon that are said to have shaken the Mesopotamian world. In fact, tradition says it was God’s retaliation for the destruction of the temple when he was later killed by his two sons.

What is special about Babylon’s Hanging Gardens?

Definition. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were the legendary gardens that adorned the Neo-Babylonian capital, built by Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 605–562 BC), the greatest king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only miracle whose existence has been disputed by historians.
According to reports, this garden was built by King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled the city from 605 to 43 BC. (There is an alternate version that the Assyrian queen Semiramis built the garden during her five-year reign, beginning in 810 BC.)

What was grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?
Among the plants displayed in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are plums, pears, figs, grapefruits, chestnuts, willows, and pomegranates. For many years, many believed that the Hanging Garden was actually suspended in the air.

What is the name of Babylon today?
The ancient city is located on the territory of the modern city of Hilla, in the center of the Iraqi province of Babylon, about 83 km south of Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. After the 2003 US-led invasion, CE. American and Polish troops built military bases in the ancient city.

Do Babylon’s Hanging Gardens Still Exist?
Image Search Results for Hanging Gardens in Babylon
There are many records of Nebuchadnezzar’s work, but his long and complete inscriptions do not mention gardens. However, the garden is said to still exist at the time described by later writers, and some of these tales are believed to be the stories of those who visited Babylon.
Has anyone recreated the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?
The Hanging Gardens (circa 600 BC), considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and one of the greatest engineering marvels of its time, are reproduced from the VIP’s observation deck.