THE HANGING GARDENS
"WERE NOT IN BABYLON," EXPERT SAYS
THE Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, might have to be renamed the Hanging Gardens of Nineveh.
An Oxford historian researching into the gardens' secrets for more than two decades has found that they were not located in Babylon, as has always been believed, but in Nineveh, 300 miles from Babylon. The ancient city of Babylon is thought to have been near present-day Al Hillah in Iraq.
Dr Stephanie Dalley, who retired from Oxford University's Oriental Institute recently, says she can now prove beyond doubt that the famed gardens were built in Nineveh by the great Assyrian ruler Sennacherib - and not, as historians have always thought, by King Nebuchadnezzar who ruled Babylon between 605 and 562 BC.
Nebuchadnezzar is believed to have constructed the gardens to please his homesick wife Amytis of Media who longed for the plants of her homeland. The gardens were said to have been destroyed by several earthquakes after the 2nd Century BC.
Some have believed that among the seven ancient wonders, only the gardens were fictional since no definitive archaeological evidence concerning their whereabouts has been found.
But Dr Dalley says she has pieced together the mystery behind the gardens. According to her, studies of the historical descriptions of the gardens convince her that Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, became known as New Babylon when Assyria conquered Babylon in 689 BC.
A geographical assessment and the comparative topography of Babylon and Nineveh show that the flat land surrounding Babylon would have made delivering water to the Hanging Gardens impossible.
Her research is going to suggest that the original classical descriptions of the Hanging Gardens had been written by historians who visited the Nineveh area.
She says Alexander the Great had actually camped near the city in 331 BC, just before he defeated the Persians at the famous battle of Gaugamela.
Dr Dalley says she has found documents showing Sennacherib's own description of an "unrivalled palace" and a "wonder for all peoples". Her research is due to be published as a book by Oxford University Press in the last week of May.