The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was said to be a marvel of ingenuity. Not only listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Hellenic culture, its remarkable feat of engineering allegedly also left every visitor stunned to its sheer magnitude and beauty.
It was said to look like a large green mountain constructed of mud bricks with an ascending series of tiered gardens. These gardens contained a wide variety of trees, shrubs, vines and flowers.
The Hanging Gardens were built in the ancient city of Babylon near present-day Hillah, Babil province, in Iraq. Its name is derived from the Greek word kremastós (“overhanging”), which has a broader meaning than the modern English word “hanging” and refers to trees being planted on a raised structure such as a terrace.
According to one legend, the Hanging Gardens were built alongside a grand palace known as The Marvel of Mankind by the Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II (between 605 and 562 BC), for his Median wife Queen Amytis, who missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland.
This was attested to by the writings of Babylonian priest Berossus in 290 BC, whose description was later quoted by Josephus.
The construction of the Hanging Gardens has also been attributed to Queen Semiramis, who ruled Babylon in the 9th century BC, and from which the alternate name the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis was attributed from.
But where exactly was the Hanging Gardens located?
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world for which no archaeological evidence has ever been found. Centuries of digging have turned up nothing, and many people assume it’s just ancient folklore.
Has everyone been looking in the wrong place? Oxford academic Stephanie Dalley has decoded an ancient, long-overlooked text in the British Museum and now believes that the gardens were built by another man, in another time, in another location.
We travel to war-torn northern Iraq with Stephanie to gather evidence which might support her controversial new theory to solve this ancient mystery.
- Release date2013
- Full runtime
- Director(s)Nick Green
- Part of the seriesSecret History
- Production companyBedlam Productions