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The Hanging Gardens as depicted by the artist
D. Lancelot for the book 'Histories des Jardins' 
by Arthur Mangin, published in 1883.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Lost in the distant past, the legendary gardens seem to have existed more in the minds of ancient poets than occupy any real space on earth.

The legend was that Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BCE) constructed the gardens as a love offering to his wife, who came from Media and longed for the mountains.

There are many thousands of clay tablets from that period in Babylon, describing in detail many facts about the city, its people and its surroundings. Records of the Hanging Gardens are conspicuous by their absence. The ancient tourist and travel writer Herodotus mentions nothing about the gardens in his extensive descriptions of the city of Babylon, and the surrounding countryside. So the question is; 'How could such a legend have come to be?'

It is likely the men of Alexander the Great's army, upon entering the city from the barren surroundings, were amazed by the lush growth of the date palms, olive trees, and other fruit trees, and later recounted their time in the city with increasingly fanciful detail. When they returned to Greece, the poets continued the tradition until it became commonly accepted as fact.

Or maybe the gardens did exist..


Selected by the SciLinks program, a service of
the National Science Teachers Association.
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