300 miles from Babylon, ancient Middle Eastern languages, ancient scripts, Assyrian, Babylon's hanging garden, Babylonians, Greek and Roman texts, missing wonder, Nineveh, Sennacherib's garden, Stephanie Dalley of Oxford University
A British academic has gathered evidence suggesting garden was created at Nineveh, 300 miles from Babylon.
The whereabouts of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the fabled Hanging Garden of Babylon – has been one of the great mysteries from antiquity. The inability of archaeologists to find traces of it among Babylon’s ancient remains led some even to doubt its existence.
After 18 years of study, Stephanie Dalley of Oxford University has concluded that the garden was built by the Assyrians in the north of Mesopotamia – in modern Iraq – rather than by their great enemies the Babylonians in the south.
The evidence presented by Dalley, an expert in ancient Middle Eastern languages, emerged from deciphering Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform scripts and reinterpreting later Greek and Roman texts. They included a 7th-century BC Assyrian inscription that, she discovered, had been mistranslated in the 1920s, reducing passages to “absolute nonsense”.
Having first broached her theory in 1992, Dalley is now presenting a mass of evidence in a book, The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon. She expects to divide academic opinion, but the evidence convinces her that Sennacherib’s garden fulfils the criteria for a wonder of the world – “magnificent in conception, spectacular in engineering, and brilliant in artistry”.