How Did They Do That?
The ancient city of Babylon, home of the Hanging Gardens .........................................................
Babylon was founded as small administrative centre in the third millennia BC by Akaadian king Sargon the Great, around 50 miles south of modern-day Baghdad. Over the next few centuries, it flourished into a cultural Mecca and capital of the Babylonian Empire. Though many of its ruins are now inaccessible due to rising water levels, the mentions in the Bible provide an invaluable insight into life in this legendary city.
The Euphrates River ran through the centre of Babylon, dividing the city in half. Metal grates were constructed underwater to prevent invasion via the waterway, but Persian king Cyrus the Great successfully navigated these defences and conquered Babylon in 539 BC.
This brick-paved corridor was over half-a-mile long. Religious parades and festivities took place here. It connected the palace to the Temple of Marduk, the protector god of Babylon.
This sixth-century-BC gate was dedicated to the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar. It was decorated with alternating rows of dragons and aurochs – a now-extinct species of wild cattle.
TOWER OF BABEL?
The Etemenanki was a ziggurat around 90 metres high, with a temple shrine at the top. It may have provided inspiration for the Tower of Babel, a biblical story in which the construction of a great tower in Babylon was disrupted, after God made the workers speak different languages.
Nebuchadnezzar II built three major palaces in Babylon – a southern palace with 500 rooms, a northern palace, and a summer palace on the northern tip of the outer wall, for when the air was stifling and the smells unbearable.
During Babylon’s golden age, the city’s double walls were further strengthened with the addition of a third wall. Greek historian Herodotus claimed them to be 56 miles long, 24 metres thick and 97 metres high, but 12-15 metres is the more likely height. They were considered impenetrable.
ISHTAR GATE EUPHRATES RIVER
Iraqi president Saddam Hussein ordered the reconstruction of Babylon’s ruined walls A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate, built using the original bricks, now stands in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin