Baloney Detection: A trek adventure into…The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.


The Hanging gardens of Babylon are thought to have been built by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife, Amytis, who was homesick for the beautiful vegetation of her native country, Media. As King Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon from 605 BC, for about 45 years, so it is believed that the gardens were built during this time. The gardens were thought to be about 75 feet high.

How reliable is the source of the claim?

Several ancient Greek and Roman writers wrote about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, about why and how they were built and how big they were. Some describe how the gardens were watered. However, they all disagree on why they were built and who they were built for. We must remember that these writers were writing several years after these gardens had been built and maybe even destroyed.

Does the source make similar claims?

There are several theories that the Hanging Gardens did actually exist, just not in Babylon. Dr Stephanie Dalley, an Oxford University Assyriologist, has constructed evidence that the gardens were actually in Nineveh, some 340 miles from ancient Babylon, on the Tigris river by Mosul in modern Iraq. She believes that earlier sources were translated incorrectly. There have also been archaeological findings, such as a drawing by Layard’s draughtsman of a bas-relief that was found at Nineveh, showing Assyrians enjoying the Hanging gardens by playing sports, boating and playing on what appears to be a swing set.

Have the claims been verified by somebody else?

There are no mentions of the Hanging gardens in of the chronicles of Babylonian history and so many doubt their existence.

Does this fit with the way the world works?

Babylon is thought to be in the middle of the desert. How can the desert bloom? It would have taken a marvel of irrigation engineering. It is also thought that if the gardens had actually existed, it would have taken 8,200 gallons of water a day to keep the plants hydrated.

Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?

I cannot find anything disproving the existence of the hanging gardens, only archaeological digs and texts written by ancient Greek and Roman writers that all point to the existence of the gardens.

Where does the preponderance of evidence point?

The preponderance of evidence point to the gardens definitely not being, or ever having been, in Babylon. However, excavations at the palace in Iraq do show some evidence for the gardens having existed at Nineveh, as a building with vaults and a well (for irrigation maybe) nearby. Other excavations on the banks of the Euphrates river uncovered some 25 m thick walls which could have been part of the hanging gardens, as they are closer to where the Greek historians placed the gardens in their accounts.

Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?

There may well have been hanging gardens in either Babylon or in Nineveh, as the archaeological evidence suggests that there was a building that may have been the gardens in Nineveh. However, with Nineveh being in the desert thus the hot sun making it difficult for a lush garden to grow, this may be improbable, although wells and holes in the ground that could have held pipes to water the plants have been found, it seems improbable that the gardens would have survived for very long, if they were real.

Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?

Yes, because there have been archaeological digs that have found evidence for the existence of the gardens, and the old texts did not have that much information to go on anyway.

Conclusion: I believe that the gardens did exist but that they were lost to us thanks to sandstorms or other weather conditions or even war, as they apparently existed in the middle of the desert in ancient times.

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