There are Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Everyone knows this. From the Lighthouse at Alexandria to the Colossus of Rhodes, these fabulous works of antiquity are now in ruins. Only the Great Pyramid of Giza still stands. So too, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon must lay somewhere under the sands of modern-day Iraq, its ruins waiting to one day be found again by archaeologists. Or must they? While popular history asserts that there were seven genuine wonders of the ancient world, the truth may be that the Hanging Gardens never actually existed at all.
The Hanging Gardens are said to be one of the most incredible feats of engineering in the world at the time. Consisting of a series of walled and tiered gardens, a lush paradise was created in the middle of Babylon itself, drawing water from the Euphrates river to keep trees, shrubs, and vines alive. The construction resembled an artificial mountain and was unlike anything seen in the world again for millennia. The great historian Herodotus wrote in 450 BC that “in addition to its size, Babylon surpasses in splendour any city in the known world.”
Historical accounts state that the Hanging Gardens were the shortest-lived of all the ancient wonders, being build c. 600 BC and destroyed sometime after 1 AD. These accounts come from five primary sources in antiquity, the historians Titus Flavius Josephus, Diodorus Siculus, Quintus Curtius Rufus, Strabo and Philo of Byzantium.
Josephus was a first-century Romano-Jewish historian from Jerusalem and referred in his descriptions of the Hanging Gardens to earlier work by Berossus, a Babylonian priest from Marduk. This reference, originating in 290 BC, is the earliest evidence concerning the Gardens on record. Writing on the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, Berossus is alleged to have attributed the Gardens to him, stating that a palace he constructed held a “resemblance of a mountainous country” and was replenished “with all sorts of trees” “to gratify his queen”, Queen Amytis. Josephus adds…