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Academic: Fabled hanging garden existed, but not in Babylon

May 6, 2013 at 7:55 PM   |   Comments

OXFORD, England, May 6 (UPI) -- A British academic says evidence suggests the fabled Hanging Garden of Babylon did in fact exist -- but it was in Nineva, 300 miles away.

Stephanie Dalley says a study of ancient texts reveals the existence of a garden that recreated a mountain landscape, although the inability of archaeologists to find traces of it -- long considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world -- among Babylon's ancient remains has led historians to doubt its existence.

Dalley, from Oxford University, said after 18 years of gathering textural evidence she has concluded the Assyrians in the north of Mesopotamia -- modern Iraq -- built the gardens long credited to their enemies the Babylonians in the south.

Dalley, an expert in ancient Middle Eastern languages, spent years deciphering Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform scripts and reinterpreting later Greek and Roman texts, The Guardian reported Monday.

The contained evidence of a complex system of canals, dams and aqueducts to bring mountain water from streams 50 miles away to the citadel of Nineveh and to a hanging garden which Assyrian writings called a "wonder for all peoples."

Piecing together ancient texts, Dalley said they spoke of a garden that recreated a mountain landscape and boasted terraces, pillared walkways, exotic plants and trees, and rippling streams.

Dalley acknowledged her contention is bound to meet with divided opinions.

"That the Hanging Garden was built in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar the Great is a fact learned at school and ... 'verified' in encyclopedias," she said. "To challenge such a universally accepted truth might might seem the height of arrogance, revisionist scholarship."

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