London: The Hanging Gardens of Nineveh?
One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - Hanging Gardens of Babylon were actually located 483 kilometres away from the legendary city of Babylon, a leading Oxford-based historian has claimed.
According to Dr Stephanie Dalley, from Oxford University`s Oriental Institute, the fabled gardens were actually located 483 km to the north in Nineveh.
The gardens were built by Babylon`s rival, the great Assyrian ruler Sennacherib and not by King Nebuchadnezzar, as historians always believed, Dalley suggests.
Dalley realised that a bas-relief - a type of sculpture - from Sennacherib`s palace in Nineveh actually portrayed trees growing on a roofed colonnade exactly as described in classical accounts of the gardens, after she studied later historical descriptions of the Hanging Gardens, `The Independent` reported.
That crucial original bas-relief discovered by the British archaeologist, Austin Henry Layard, in the 1840s, appears to have been lost in the mid 19th-century.
When it was found, it seems to have already been in such poor shape that its surface was, in all probability, rapidly crumbling.
However, an artist had already drawn the bas-relief and that drawing had been reproduced in Layard`s book about Nineveh.
More studies then suggested that, after Assyria had sacked and conquered Babylon in 689 BC, the Assyrian capital Nineveh may well have been regarded as the "New Babylon" ? thus creating the belief that the Hanging Gardens were in fact situated in Babylon itself.
Dalley`s research unveiled that, as early as the 13th century BC, at least one other town in the erstwhile Mesopotamia was being described as "another Babylon", thus implying that in antiquity the name could have been used to describe places other than the real Babylon.
A breakthrough occurred when Dally noticed that after Sennacherib had conquered Babylon, he actually renamed all the gates of Nineveh after the names traditionally used for Babylon`s city gates.
Babylon had always named its gates after its gods. The Assyrian monarch simply renamed Nineveh`s city gates after those same gods, the report said.
A comparative study of the topography of Babylon and Nineveh suggested that the totally flat countryside around the real Babylon would have made it impossible to supply enough water to maintain the raised gardens.