University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Cabinet of Natural History > When the archaeologists are searching for a legend: the (re-)invention of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

When the archaeologists are searching for a legend: the (re-)invention of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

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The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are the first of Seven Wonders of the World according to Philo of Byzantium. Since then, they have continued to hang in Western imagination and fantasy. Despite their insubstantial and elusive character, representations, based upon ancient Greek and Roman descriptions, are numerous from the Middle Ages onwards. At the very end of the XIXth century, the discovery of Babylon by archaeologists provided new information: in the ruins of Babylon, Robert Koldewey recognised the vestiges of the Hanging Gardens. Many more reconstructions and debates followed, on the appearance of the now ‘real’ Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and their location in the city or elsewhere. The aim of this paper is not to provide a definite answer to the mystery of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but rather to focus on their position in the history of Ancient Near Eastern gardens, and especially to recall the history of the research concerning them, that often witnesses the influence of our own dreams and visions of the Near East.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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