Hanging Gardens of BabylonHanging Gardens - The most mysterious of the Seven Ancient Wonders because so little is known about them. The biggest question is whether or not they even existed. Unlike the other six, no archaeological or physical evidence has ever been identified (the Great Pyramid, of course, is still standing). And Herodotus who reportedly visited the city made no mention of them. The only chronicler from the region to ever write about them was Berossus. His account is also the earliest, about 280 B.C.. Philo of Byzantium, who is considered the compiler of the Seven Ancient Wonders, is reportedly the next to mention them, about 30 years after Berossus in 250. However, the earliest copy of the work attributed to him is dated several centuries after his life. If no other account outside of Berossus' exists from this time, and if Philo himself never visited Babylon (which we don't know), then it's likely that his knowledge of the gardens comes only from Berossus (and perhaps word of mouth). There are other ancient writers who mention them, but all come later in history.


The story is that Nebuchadnezzar built the Hanging Gardens to please his wife, Amyitis, who was homesick for her native land. She was a Mede from the Zagros Mountains and the flat terrain of Mesopotamia apparently depressed her. So the king built and artificial mountain out of brick and covered it with flora from her homeland. The word "hanging" is an inaccurate description as the plants were not actually suspended, but the Greek word kremastos and Latin word pensilis, which were used in the translation, can mean "over-hanging" which they likely did from the bricks. The method of irrigating them comes from Strabo, one of the later writers of the gardens. His description is thought to be of a "chain pump" (not an Archimedes screw, which was invented by Archimedes centuries later). Recent evidence at Nineveh indicates a series of aqueducts with Sennacherib's name inscribed in them. This has led to speculation that the famed Hanging Gardens may have actually been built in the Assyrian capital and became confused with Babylon in the intervening centuries.