Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Written for the KidsKnowIt Network by:
Just as in modern times, travelers of long ago enjoyed seeing new things and meeting new people. Many Greek travelers of ancient times kept records of their favorite sights. They made recommendations to others of what to see in each country. Some of these ‘wonder-lists’ survive to today. One of the places mentioned as an ancient ‘must-see’ is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, like all the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, were built thousands of years ago. This beautiful structure was reportedly built around 600 years before the birth of Christ. Like most of the Seven Wonders, the Hanging Gardens no longer exist. We have only the written descriptions of them to picture what the wonders must have looked like.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built in what is now modern Iraq. Built by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his homesick bride, the Hanging Gardens were intended to mimic the mountains of her homeland, Persia. The King went to great trouble and expense to build a mountain for her, import huge trees and plants and keep it watered and growing. The ‘mountain’ was built against the city wall (a thick, high wall built to keep out foreign invaders). It rose almost 100 feet into the air, lining up with the top of the city wall. It stretched about 400 feet.
To build this Hanging Garden, King Nebuchadnezzar II had to begin with a big hole in the ground. The foundation for such a structure was more important than any other part. If the weight of the stone slabs, dirt and plants was too much, or if the water eroded the foundation away, the whole thing would collapse. Digging down 30 feet, the engineers of the King’s day lay a solid foundation and erected pillars. Then they could place the first level of the garden. This was followed with more pillars and another slab, more pillars and another slab until the top of the city wall was reached. Dirt was brought in and piled deep enough to support the root system of even the largest tree, and then the planting began. Because the area of Babylon did not have enough rainfall to keep these mountain plants alive, an irrigation system also had to be developed to keep the plants alive.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were destroyed in an earthquake sometime after the 1st century AD.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are mentioned in several Seven Wonders lists. But, to date, no archeological evidence has been found to convince historians that they ever existed. It seems that a structure so massive would leave some sign of its time on earth. But, search as they may, no real evidence of the Hanging Gardens have been uncovered by those who want to find it.
This baffles archeologists and historians. Did the Hanging Gardens of Babylon really exist or are they a legend? The ancient writings about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World do not indicate that they were anything but a real place. This leads us to rely only on the descriptions of the ancients. If they are true, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were a true wonder.