THE HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON
IS IN BABYLON
REFUTING A MISCONCEPTION
Amer Hanna Fatuhi
Around 1857 A.D. and despite the lack of tangible evidence and limited discoveries on one hand and on the other hand the dissatisfaction of many French*, German and other European scholars, the British Royal Asiatic Society RAS decided that the term Assyriology is accurate!
The RAS scholars claimed that what Layard has discovered in Nineveh, the ancient capital of Assur from the period 668 – 627 BC is the most ancient Mesopotamian writing system.
However, in less than twenty years, hundreds of tablets were collected from all over the Middle East. These tablets were inscribed with Cuneiform and Mesopotamian pictograph signs, were not only two or three hundred years older than the ones discovered in Nineveh, but in fact more than two thousand years, and in some cases more than three thousand years, especially the tablets that were discovered in the Babylonian region, i.e., Kish, UR, and Uruk.
Some European scholars suggested revisiting the term Assyriology, and proposed other terms including Cuneiformiology and Mesopotamialogy. This intention to right the wrong doing by the RAS, was what made Samuel Noah Kramer to suggest the term Sumeriology in the first half of the 20th century. However, the British members at the RAS ignored all the European scholars’ suggestions and insisted on using the wrong term, claiming there is no need to change what is in use worldwide for more than two decades. The British arrogance and their political ambitions what force to use an inaccurate scientific term no more and no less.
Once again, the same course of arrogance, pursuing fame, and other improper factors, were behind the new inappropriate claim that suggested another location for the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon and one of the ancient world seven wonders. Stephanie Mary Dalley FSA (née Page; March 1943) is another British scholar of the Ancient Near East. She retired as a Research Fellow from the Oriental Institute, Oxford. She is become known for her so-called investigation into the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and her incorrect proposal, which I am going to refute. Dalley suggested that the Hanging Gardens was not situated in Babylon and was not built by Nebuchadnezzar, but according to her feeble speculations in Nineveh, and constructed during Sennacherib's rule!
Since Stephanie Daley has published her theory of the Hanging Gardens and attributed them to the wrong place and wrong king, some have written about her attempt to improperly mix up cards to support her theory, which is based on a proposition refuted by the historical and geographic reality of the region.
1- Dalley intentionally played on confusing the readers between Sennacherib, who destroyed Babylon, however, she claimed that he loved it, and Ashurbanipal who burned Babylon down and looted its massive libraries.
2- Other authors are confused between Sennacherib, who established a water canal (aqueduct),
a traditional system in ancient Iraq and a mural bas-relief in the Ashurbanipal Palace, ignoring the fact that Mesopotamian artists did not rely on a three-dimensional painting in their murals. Although the mural seems to be in layers but in reality, it merely depicts distances and not heights.
3- More importantly, any simple peasant from the Nineveh Plain knows that there is no need to invent complex irrigation technology, noting that all water wells have been used in central and southern Iraq, and not in the north, which sustains its agriculture through rainfall and not by means of irrigation.
4 - Berossus / Bēl-rē'u-šu had been accused by Dalley and her followers, for political reasons, of attributing the Hanging Gardens to Babylon, ignoring the fact that he is one of the most important geniuses in Mesopotamia during the Hellenistic-era and that he is the son of Babel, who knows everything about it. He is the one who taught the Greeks in Kos Island where they installed a huge statue of him out of appreciation and admiration.
5- Some British historians tried to give explanations far from reality about the writings of Josephus and Diodorus Siculus, and other scholars who wrote about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon on the pretext that they were talking about Ashurbanipal bas-relief mural, ignoring the fact that Nineveh at that time was no longer in existence after three centuries of destruction.
German, French, Russian, and Iraqi archaeologists and historians have unquestionably confirmed that the discovered refrigerator building of Babel at Nebuchadnezzar's Palace is the most likely place for the Hanging Gardens.
6- Dalley, argued that Nebuchadnezzar’s records did not mention the Hanging Gardens, ignoring the fact that, we have not found most of Nebuchadnezzar’s records; the flooding of Babylon twice by Sennacherib and Ashurbanipal and the diversion of Euphrates river in the era of Cyrus have erased the history of thousands of years, including countless records of Nebuchadnezzar.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that planting trees on the Babylonian palaces’ roofs is a common tradition. Unlike Nineveh, which is already famous for its natural forests and colder weather.
Any common observer of Ashurbanipal's bas relief mural could easily figure out that, the only purpose of the aqueduct was to provide water for the palace. There are trees surrounding the palace, some in front of it and others at a distance or near it, but there is not one tree on the roof of the palace. Those who have visited the area can easily confirm that the canal was not built for planting trees, but the landscape around it (in front and behind) is full of plants and trees. However, there is not one tree hanging on the roof of the palace.
It seems that some of the so-called scholars are still thinking that they could suggest whatever they like and the rest of the world has to follow. The fact of the matter is that every single speculation, that Dalley’s came up with is scientifically baseless and she is dead wrong.
* French: The French were the first to use this term locally during the time of Cardinal Richelieu. However, when the French and other European scholars discovered, that this term is wrong, they proposed to change it.