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Babylon - The Hanging Gardens

Identifier

004441

Type of spiritual experience

Background

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, were considered to be one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. They were reputedly built by the Chaldean king Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 BC. He is reported to have constructed the gardens to please his sick wife, Amytis of Media, who longed for the trees and fragrant plants of her homeland Persia.   The gardens were destroyed by several earthquakes after the 2nd century BC.

If the descriptions are correct Nebuchadnezzar built the gardens much like a work of art and incorporated a huge amount of symbolism.  Nebuchadnezzar was, of course, known for being wise.

The symbolism of the garden is very well developed conforming to all the essential symbols on this site.  There are levels and layers, with gardens and groves, fountains, stairs between levels, sacred trees, water courses.  And the gardens are built to be in the shape of a mountain constructed at various levels.   

In some descriptions by historians the view is postulated that "The lack of documentation of the gardens in the chronicles of Babylonian history, rather tends to support the view that they were an invention to crystallise in very impressive form the symbolism used in Greek mythology.  It was the Greeks who did most of the documenting of the garden’s existence".  But the Babylonians had the garden they had no need to document its existence, so maybe we shall mever know. 

A description of the experience

Strabo

Babylon, too, lies in a plain; and the circuit of its wall is three  hundred and eighty-five stadia. The thickness of its wall is thirty-two feet; the height thereof between the towers is fifty cubits; that of the towers is sixty cubits; the passage on top of the wall is such that four-horse chariots can easily pass one another; and it is on this account that this and the hanging garden are called one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The garden is quadrangular in shape, and each side is four plethra in length. It consists of arched vaults, which are situated, one after another, on checkered, cube-like foundations  The checkered foundations, which are hollowed out, are covered so deep with earth that they admit of the largest of trees, having been constructed of baked brick and asphalt — the foundations themselves and the vaults and the arches. The ascent to the uppermost terrace-roofs is made by a stairway; and alongside these stairs there were screws, through which the water was continually conducted up into the garden from the Euphrates by those appointed for this purpose. For the river, a stadium in width, flows through the middle of the city; and the garden is on the bank of the river."

 

The Greek Historian Diodorus

The Garden was 100 feet (30 m) long by 100 ft wide and built up in tiers so that it resembled a theatre. Vaults had been constructed under the ascending terraces which carried the entire weight of the planted garden; the uppermost vault, which was seventy-five feet high, was the highest part of the garden, which, at this point, was on the same level as the city walls.The roofs of the vaults which supported the garden were constructed of stone beams some sixteen feet long, and over these were laid first a layer of reeds set in thick tar, then two courses of baked brick bonded by cement, and finally a covering of lead to prevent the moisture in the soil penetrating the roof. On top of this roof enough topsoil was heaped to allow the biggest trees to take root. The earth was leveled off and thickly planted with every kind of tree. And since the galleries projected one beyond the other, where they were sunlit, they contained conduits for the water which was raised by pumps in great abundance from the river, though no one outside could see it being done.

The source of the experience

Mesopotamian system

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities