Ancient--Mesopotamia 1. What do we mean by “civilization”? 2. Ancient Mesopotamia: Sumer A. Sumerian Cities B. Cuneiform Writing/Gilgamesh 3.

A Golden Age? Akkad and Babylon === Sumerian Kingdom (3500-2200 BCE) Akkadian Kingdom (2400-2100 BCE) Old Babylonian Kingdom (1900-1500 BCE) Assyrian Kingdom (1300-900 BCE) Chaldean Period (600-540 BCE) 1. What do we mean by “civilization”? --As you can see, something entirely new was going on in places like Catal Huyuk and Jericho --the creature known as Homo sapiens sapiens was beginning to adopt some frankly complex social behaviors, not the least of which was town life. --this requires: cooperation, tolerance, trust, interdependence—all on levels previously unheard of. --at this point in the human story, roughly 8000 BCE, humanity was on the verge of something approximating the human category we call “civilization” --however, what do we mean by the term? --value-laden (i.e., the word carries moral baggage about which sorts of behaviors are those of advanced peoples and what might be considered “primitive” or pre-modern ways of thinking and acting). --in the past, the term “civilization” has been used to excuse or justify the worst sort of atrocities (i.e., abuse, violence against indigenous peoples the world over). --however, we might still use it as a useful category so long as we jettison the assumption that so-called “civilized” peoples are somehow more moral, better or superior to early peoples. --indeed, I hope that one thing that you will discover in the next few weeks is just how sophisticated and complex early human societies were… Anyway, modern anthropologists and historians have arrived at the following set of criteria for what constitutes a “civilization”: 1) cities serve as administrative centers; 2) political system based on the control of a defined territory rather than on kinship connections;


3) a significant number of people engaged in specialized non-food producing activities; 4) status distinctions (often linked to wealth), 5) monumental building, 6) a system for keeping permanent records, 7) long-distance trade, 8) artistic and scientific achievement 9) institutionalized religion What do you think of these criteria? Are there others? Do some of these not belong (for instance can you have civilization without monumental building)? 2. Ancient Mesopotamia: Sumer --the earliest societies in which these traits are apparent developed in the floodplains of Asia and Africa: the Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq, the Indus in Pakistan, the Yellow (or Huang He) in China and the Nile in Egypt and Sudan. --while floodplains can be extremely threatening to human lives and property, they can also bring great benefits: the periodic flooding of the world’s great rivers served to irrigate parched soils and to leave behind extremely fertile deposits of silt on agricultural lands. --to protect themselves and channel these powerful forces of nature, people living near rivers responded by creating new technologies and new forms of political and social organization. --of all the early societies, the peoples of Mesopotamia were amongst the first to respond to the challenge of living in river valleys by organizing themselves into something resembling a civilization --but where does the word Mesopotamia come from? (i.e., Greek, meso = between, in the midst of; potamos = river. So Mesopotamia = “the land between the rivers”) --it embraces all the lands adjacent to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and together with ancient Syria and Palestine, forms the geographic area that we know as “the Fertile Crescent.” --the Tigris and Euphrates rise high in the mountains of eastern Anatolia (i.e., Turkey) and empty into the Persian Gulf. Along the way they meander through hills, grasslands, deserts and swamps. --most of Mesopotamia, therefore, lies within the boundaries of modern Iraq, though parts of it extend into western Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. --the earliest people to inhabit this region during the “historical period” (what is the difference between history and pre-history?) were a group known as the Sumerians. --it is they (the Sumerians) who, in the words of one historian, created the “archetypes of civilized life” in the Fertile Crescent. --another historian, equally insistent on giving Sumer its due proclaimed: “History begins in Sumer”


--these and similar claims intend to convey the notion that the Sumerians were the ones who dictated and defined the earliest elements of Mesopotamian society, and that those who came after them (including groups that we know as the Akkadians, the Babylonians, the Chaldeans, the Assyrians and others), developed many of their political, social and cultural institutions on the Sumerian model. --i.e., in the same way that Roman society looked to Greece as a source of inspiration, or in the same way that the US and Canada developed political and cultural models on preexisting European ideas, so too did the Babylonians and the Assyrians and the Akkadians and the Chaldeans (and even the Hebrews) use Sumer as the basis for many of their cultural ideas. --it is largely for this reason that I’m going to start our discussion of the Ancient World with Sumer --well, sometime after ca. 3500 BCE, the Sumerian people began to exploit the potential of the lower Tigris-Euphrates Valley. --they built up a confederacy of city-states (i.e., independent, self-governing cities together with their suburbs and outlying areas) --these included towns such as Ur, Uruk, Eridu and Langash. (digression on Ur…name of anything prototypical—i.e., the “Ur-text” is the oldest manuscript of a given book; the “Ur-form” of an idea or concept, etc). --it’s reckoned that each of these cities contained between 10 and 50,000 people: while that might seem tiny by modern standards, it’s positively huge by ancient standards --of course, even though they built cities, Sumerian people were primarily agricultural, sustaining themselves on many of the crops that we discussed for the Neolithic period --however, by aligning themselves together and recognizing their fundamental need for interdependence, they managed to create a civilization that survived for more than 1300 years --indeed, the Sumerian period in Mesopotamia lasted from roughly 3500 to 2200 BCE --the Sumerians were successful largely because their city-states took Neolithic agriculture several important steps further than their forbears. --for example: 1) they parceled out land in tracts of almost geometrical regularity; this ensured that almost everyone in the community had enough land to feed him/herself—and, of course, they even had surplus land that could accommodate the dietary needs of the various specialized workers of the community. 2) moreover, to increase yield, the Sumerians were amongst the first to engage in largescale irrigation: they developed a system of canals, dykes and dams that channeled the flood water of the Tigris and Euphrates into basins, controlled the flow, and then directed the water to individual peasant farms. 3) in addition to this, the Sumerians built a network of efficient roads and navigable waterways that allowed them to move surplus agricultural products, people and trade goods around their territory with great efficiency


--in turn, these developments allowed the Sumerians to become some of the foremost traders of the ancient world --indeed, because they managed to accumulate such impressive food surpluses, the Sumerian towns could sustain a commercial and artisan class that produced a wide variety of specialized goods that could be sold throughout the Near East --not only did they sell finished goods, the Sumerians also sold surplus commodities such as grain and produce --the result of all of this was that for more than a millennium, Sumerian cities became the largest, wealthiest and best defended cities that the world had ever known to that point. a. Sumerian Cities --for example, archeological research confirms that, at its height in the 2nd millennium, the city wall at Uruk was nearly 6 miles (10 km) in circumference. It enclosed more than 1000 acres and boasted more than 900 defensive towers. --W/in the walls of Uruk there were thousands of peasants houses (most of them made from mud bricks, wattle and daub or other, even more perishable substances). --and, because they were the products of early urban planning, Sumerian cities were often rectangular in shape, surrounded, as I say, by high, wide walls. Inside the city gates, there were broad avenues used for religious processions or victory parades. --the largest buildings in Sumerian civilization were the ziggurats, temple-pyramids that soared toward the heavens. --built in receding tiers (or steps) upon a rectangular, oval, or square platform, the ziggurat was a form of pyramid. --the core of the ziggurat was made of sun-baked, clay bricks (in some cases more than 1,000,000 bricks), while the façade was decorated with specially-decorated bricks that glistened in the sun --the façades of the ziggurats were often glazed in different colors and some scholars believe that the colors have some sort of cosmological significance. --the number of tiers ranged from two to seven, with a shrine or temple at the summit. --access to the shrine was provided by a series of ramps on one side of the ziggurat or by a spiral ramp from base to summit --it should be noted, however, that the Mesopotamian ziggurats were not places of public worship or ceremonies; instead Sumerians believed them to be dwelling places of the gods. --so, the ziggurat mediated the relationship between gods and humans and thus each city had its own ziggurat.


--however, only the priests were permitted inside the ziggurat and it was their responsibility to care for the gods and attend to their needs. As a result, the priestly class became very powerful members of Sumerian society. --they were called ensi, and they lived near the ziggurats, in magnificent palaces with spacious courtyards. The ensi were sort of “mayor-priests” who intervened between the pantheon of Sumerian gods and normal folk. They coordinated the various temple activities within the city walls, they assigned work on public buildings and regulated the construction of the various water installations. --the ensi also controlled the foreign policy of the city; he decided whether his city would wage war against a neighbor, whether peaceful relations would be maintained, who would be the city’s major trading partners and what sort of goods would be made available for trade. --the Sumerian army was under the strict control of the ensi and, as commander-in-chief, he dictated every aspect of military service from training to pay to military discipline to terms of service. --over time, these ensi evolved into hereditary rulers --everyone in the Sumerian cities recognized the supreme earthly authority of the ensi, and he was given gifts and other tokens of esteem from his people. b. Cuneiform writing Sumer’s most enduring contribution to Mesopotamian and subsequent civilizations was probably its writing system called “cuneiform.” This, of course, is one of the earliest writing systems known to humanity. By 3200 B.C., the Sumerians employed a sharp-pointed instrument- called a stylus - to inscribe wedge-shaped characters on soft clay tablets, which were then hardened by baking. Reading and writing in cuneiform were difficult because the Sumerian alphabet consisted of about 550 characters. And thus, Sumerian scribes had to go through years of strict schooling to acquire their skills. Nevertheless, cuneiform was widely used in the Middle East for thousands of years. Because they left records, we know quite a bit about Sumerian government, economy, literature and religion. For example, one of the most important literary efforts of Sumerian culture was the socalled Epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest recorded story in human history.


Though there are many surviving copies of the story, the fullest version was written on twelve stone tablets that were found in the ruins of the library of an Assyrian king. The library was destroyed by the Persians in 612 B.C., and so unfortunately all the tablets are damaged. The work is a collection of stories about a hero-king named Gilgamesh and his companion, the wild-man Enkidu. On their journeys the two men meet a variety of characters, including: 1) the sole survivor of a great flood that once destroyed the entire world, 2) a creature known as the “Bull of Heaven”, 3) the ancient guardian of a great cedar forest, as well as various heroes, gods, demons and villains. It is an exciting book that still resonates with modern readers. And at the heart of it all is Gilgamesh’s search for eternal life. At every juncture he tries to find a way of defeating death, however, by the end of the story Gilgamesh has learned the greatest truth of all—that even heroes must die. To give you an idea of how the stories in Gilgamesh resonate, let me tell you a little about the Gilgamesh flood story. I think you will find elements of it familiar: According to the Epic, Gilgamesh ran into the sole survivor of the great flood and convinced him to tell his story. It went like this… Apparently, the gods were angry with humanity and resolved, at a secret assembly, to destroy all mankind. They decided they would send a great flood to drown out all of creation, and swore not to tell any human of their plan. However, the god Ea (who, according to Sumerian myth had created humanity) went to the house of a wise old man named Ut-nap-ish-tim and began to speak to the walls (i.e., he was in full hearing of Utnapishtim, but resolved to keep the letter of the agreement…). He told the walls what the gods were planning, and suggested that the walls should build a giant boat to protect themselves against the flood. Then Ea told the walls to take every living creature on to the boat and remain there until the waters receded Well, the black clouds arrived, and the thunder god Adad rumbled within them; the earth split like an earthenware pot, and all the light turned to darkness. The Flood was so great that even the gods were frightened. According to the poem: The gods shook like beaten dogs, hiding in the far corners of heaven, Ishtar screamed and wailed: "The days of old have turned to stone: We have decided evil things in our Assembly!


Why did we decide those evil things in our Assembly? Why did we decide to destroy our people? We have only just now created our beloved humans; We now destroy them in the sea!" All the gods wept and wailed along with Ishtar, All the gods sat trembling, and wept. The Flood lasted for seven days and seven nights, but finally light returned to the earth. On the morning of the eighth day, Ut-nap-ish-tim opened a window in his boat and discovered that the entire earth had been turned into a flat ocean; all humans had died. At length, however, Ut-nap-ish-tim's boat came to rest on the top of a mountain; it lodged firmly on the mountain peak just below the surface of the ocean and remained there for seven days. According to Ut-nap-ish-tim’s account, on the seventh day: I released a dove from the boat, It flew off, but circled around and returned, For it could find no perch. I then released a swallow from the boat, It flew off, but circled around and returned, For it could find no perch. I then released a raven from the boat, It flew off, and the waters had receded: It eats, it scratches the ground, but it does not circle around and return. I then sent out all the living things in every direction and sacrificed a sheep on that very spot. Well, according to the story, the gods could smell the odor of the sacrifice and begin to gather around Ut-nap-ish-tim. Furious that one of the humans had survived, the gods accused Ea of treachery; but Ea convinced the rest of the gods to be merciful. They seized Ut-nap-ish-tim and his wife and blessed them: “At one time Ut-nap-ish-tim was mortal. At this time let him be a god and immortal; Let him live in the far away at the source of all the rivers.” At the end of his story, Ut-nap-ish-tim offers Gilgamesh a chance at immortality. If Gilgamesh can stay awake for six days and seven nights, he, too, will become immortal. Gilgamesh accepts these conditions and sits down on the shore; the instant he sits down he falls asleep…. Gilgamesh, which was known not only to the Sumerians but also to the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Greeks and many other ancient cultures, provides a fascinating glimpse into the religious and spiritual assumptions of Mesopotamian culture (and gives us an indication of just how interdependent most of these societies were).


Stories like Gilgamesh tell us that, like most ancient peoples, the Sumerians were polytheistic, worshipping many gods. These gods were thought to control every aspect of life, especially the forces of nature. Sumerians believed that gods & goddesses behaved like ordinary people. These gods ate, drank, married, and raised families. Although the gods favored truth and justice, they were also responsible for violence and suffering. To Sumerians, their highest duty was to keep these divine beings happy and thereby ensure the safety of their city-state. Each city-state had its own special god or goddess to whom people prayed and offered sacrifices of animals, grain, and wine. People celebrated many holy days with ceremonies and processions. The most important ceremony occurred at the new year when the king sought and won the favor of Inanna, the life-giving goddess of love. The ensi participated in a symbolic marriage with the goddess. This ritual, Sumerians believed, would make the new year fruitful and prosperous. Like the Egyptians, the Sumerians believed in an afterlife. At death, they believed, a person descended into a grim underworld from which there was no release. The gloomy Sumerian view of an afterlife contrasts with the Egyptian vision of the Happy Field of Food. Possibly differences in geography help account for this contrast. The floods of the Tigris and Euphrates were less regular and more destructive than the Nile floods. As a result, Sumerians may have developed a more pessimistic view of the world. Anyway…these are some of the dominant features of the early, Sumerian phase of Mesopotamian culture. And, as I noted earlier, the Sumerian phase of Mesopotamian culture lasted until roughly 2200 BCE. 3. Ancient Mesopotamia: a) Akkad and b) Babylon a) Akkad --around that time (i.e., between 2400 and 2200 BCE) the cities of middle Mesopotamia began to jockey for political and military dominance, and a new player, the city of Akkad (or Agade), began to extend its control throughout the region --Akkad was located about 100 km (60 miles) north of the ancient city of Ur, about half way between the Tigris and the Euphrates, though its precise location remains unknown --Akkad’s first great ruler, Sargon (sometimes called Sargon the Great), worked to bring all of Mesopotamia under the control of his royal dynasty --Sargon lived between ca. 2330 and 2280 BCE and his greatest claim to fame is probably the fact that his name is the earliest human name known to history


--between 2400 and 2100 BCE, Sargon and his heirs conquered virtually all the cities of Mesopotamia and put their stamp on the region --for example, the Akkadians insisted that all the defeated cities of the Euphrates watershed must tear down their walls and install an Akkadian governor --this governor was given wide-ranging authority over trade, religion and municipal regulations: his power was reinforced or supplemented by large garrisons of Akkadian troops --in return for their faithful service, the Akkadian kings gave their soldiers large tracts of land in the conquered territories: this had the effect of 1) stabilizing the Akkadian presence throughout Mesopotamia, and 2) giving the troops a tangible, personal reason for maintaining domestic security --once firmly in power, the Akkadians worked to bring uniformity to their growing empire: 1) Sargon implemented a system of standard weights and measures; 2) he ordered that cuneiform should be used throughout the kingdom; 3) standardized formats were used on all official documents (i.e., documents related to taxation, military documents, documents related to large-scale public works projects [dams, reservoirs, roads, temples, etc.]). --however, for reasons that are not entirely clear, the Akkadian empire began to deteriorate around 2100 BCE --it seems that a series of factors conspired against the late Akkadian rulers: 1) civil unrest in the cities, 2) warring tribes at the borders of the kingdom, 3) environmental or demographic factors --whatever the reasons, by 2100, the heirs of Sargon were overthrown and a series of small successor kingdoms competed for the crumbs of Akkadian civilization b) Babylon --for almost 200 years, various small cities and states competed with each other as well as with invaders from outside Mesopotamia for a share of power in the Ancient Near East --and when the dust finally settled around 1900 BCE it was a group known to history as the Babylonians who exercised political control throughout the region --they established their capital at Babylon, a town near the ancient city of Akkad, and from their capital, the Babylonians presided over Mesopotamia for more than 4 centuries --of all the successors to the Sumerians, it was the Babylonians who evolved the most elaborate, most politically-complex culture in Mesopotamia --and while there were a number of Babylonian rulers who contributed to the increasing complexity of Mesopotamian society, one name stands above all the others: Hammurabi, or, Hammurapi of Babylon: I’d like to spend a few moments telling you about Hammurabi and his importance to Babylonian culture Hammurabi


--we don’t know precisely when King Hammurabi was born, though the dates of his reign appear to have been 1792-1750 BCE --the evidence seems to suggest that he began his reign as little more than a local priestking, an ensi (i.e., one of those municipal officials I told you about earlier) --however, over the course of an extraordinarily successful reign, he managed to extend his authority over a huge swath of territory, one that encompassed all the old Akkadian territories and even more besides --indeed, by the end of his reign, he was the undisputed master of all Mesopotamia --of course, Hammurabi is most famous for promulgating a code of laws that bear his name: i.e., the “Code of Hammurabi” --while this was by no means the earliest body of royal legislation to issue out of Mesopotamia, it was certainly one of the most comprehensive law codes of the ancient world --indeed, many of the traits that made Hammurabi a successful warrior-king also made him a great legislator --for example, Hammurabi appears to have a meticulous governor, someone who was preoccupied with every detail of his government; he also appears to have had a profound interest in administration and a desire for control --fortunately, this tendency was balanced by an equally strong passion for what we might call the principles of social justice --for example, when he ascended the throne of Babylon, he issued a proclamation forgiving people’s public and private debts: he simply said, “no one owes anyone anything—we’re going to start from scratch” --if you were a lender, you might have been outraged, but if you were a borrower, you would have been over the moon with happiness --and, like now, there were far more borrowers than lenders; it was a staggeringly popular decision --Hammurabi also renovated all of Babylon’s ziggurats and other temples; he gave special attention to the temple of Marduk, Babylon’s patron and an extremely popular local deity --both of these measures brought Hammurabi instant popularity, and allowed him to consolidate his power at home --with the city of Babylon secure, Hammurabi was able to concentrate on foreign affairs --in a five year period, he managed to conquer or subdue most of the lands to the south and east of Babylon --he installed Babylonian governors and garrisons throughout the region --later, he pushed north and west, until, by 1760 BCE, he had built the largest empire the world had known up to that time --it encompassed most of modern Iraq as well as portions of Iran, Syria and parts of southern Turkey


--throughout it all, he imposed his own form of royal justice, the document I mentioned a few moments ago, the “Code of Hammurabi” Code of Hammurabi --Hammurabi’s law code was discovered slightly more than a hundred years ago, in 1901, when archeologists were digging through the remains of a Babylonian city named Susa, in what is now southwestern Iran --during the course of their investigations, they came upon an 8 foot tall stele of black granite --at the top, the stele bore a picture of the bearded god Shamash, seated on his throne; Shamash (or Utu) was the god of the sun, who, by virtue of his light, sees all things from heaven --he is the equivalent of Zeus, or Odin (a father figure) --Shamash holds a scepter (an ancient symbol of royal and divine power) in his right hand --facing him is Hammurabi; the king holds one hand to his lips as he receives legal enlightenment from his god --the message is clear, with the stele Hammurabi dispenses not only his own will, but also that of the gods --while the image is an excellent example of Babylonian art, it is the rest of the stele that captures the attention and imagination of historians --here, the ancient sculptor has inscribed an exhaustive list of the laws and punishments of Hammurabi’s kingdom --the stele, which is now located in the Louvre Museum in Paris, originally contained 282 numbered laws written in the Old Babylonian language; unfortunately, some of the granite has been chipped away, so at least 34 of the laws are missing --of those that remain, the focus is on laws concerning theft, farming (or shepherding), property damage, women's rights, marriage rights, children's rights, slave rights, murder, death, and injury. --it’s a positive goldmine of information on the values, mores and everyday life of Babylonians in the 2nd millennium BCE --the document anticipates a wide range of legal and social problems: false accusations, bad legal decisions, the ransom of prisoners of war, penalties for sexual misconduct, penalties for shoddy construction work, medical malpractice, etc. --it even deals with such arcane topics as what to do with victims of shipwreck who appear in your community --significantly, the code stipulates that punishments should be different for different classes of offenders and victims. --so, if a slave kills another slave, there’s one penalty, but if a slave kills an aristocrat there’s quite another


--similarly, if a woman of child-bearing years is assaulted, there’s one form of recompense, if the woman is beyond menopause, there’s another penalty --by modern standards, the laws seem rather harsh --for example, they do not accept excuses or explanations for mistakes or fault --this was largely because the Code was on display for everyone to see (i.e., we think that there were probably similar stele in all the towns and villages of Babylon) --because of this, Babylonians contended that no one could plead ignorance of the law as an excuse. --even those who were illiterate (the great majority of the population) could have the law read to them—so there was absolutely no excuse for anyone to transgress the law --also, the punishment for many crimes (even crimes that we might consider comparatively minor) was death or disfigurement --for example: “If a son of a…prostitute say to his adoptive father or mother: ‘You are not my father, or my mother,’ his tongue shall be cut off.” --or: “If any one steal the property of a temple or of the court, he shall be put to death, and also the one who receives the stolen thing from him shall be put to death. --what made this law code so appealing to the general populace was the fact that it was written at all --even though the laws were harsh, at least people now had a legally defined relationship with the king, his agents and with each other --average Babylonians were no longer subject to the whims or capriciousness of individual kings or aristocrats --they now knew what their legal obligations to the state were, and they knew, at least for the most part, how to avoid running afoul of the law --this was probably a tremendous advancement over previous legal relationships of the ancient world --anyway, Hammurabi was, in many respects, the archetypal Mesopotamian ruler of the Babylonian era --by this, I mean that while he was remote, detached and entirely supreme, Hammurabi also had a deep and abiding concern for the welfare of his subjects --he built up the fortunes of his people, he extended his empire and he sent out embassies to all the corners of the known world --he inaugurated (or initiated) a system of government that would be measured in centuries rather than in decades --by this, I mean that through his many political successes and legal reforms, Hammurabi laid the foundations for a system of government (and a view of civilization) that would far outlive his dynasty --in their turn, the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, the Persians and the successors of Alexander the Great would all use models of government that had been developed during the Sumerian, Akkadian and Babylonian periods


The City of Babylon --of course, Hammurabi didn’t live to see what might be considered his greatest contribution to global culture: I’m speaking of course of the city of Babylon itself --under Hammurabi, the city had its first beginnings as an imperial capital --however, over the course of the next 1200 years, it would become one of the foremost cities of the ancient world: a centre of government, a seat of learning, a vital repository of ancient culture and ideas --while during the ancient period it was never home to more than 50,000 people at any given time, Babylon was, nevertheless, the greatest city of the world (at least before Rome) --by 1600 BCE, the city was graced with a great number of well-designed public buildings and sturdy private dwellings, sweeping tree-lined boulevards and public squares --it contained shops and markets and hostels and auditoriums (for both sporting events and theatre) --at the centre of it all was the great Ziggurat of Marduk, possibly the largest ziggurat ever constructed; indeed, this structure is probably the inspiration for the biblical “Tower of Babel” (what is this?) --while we don’t know its precise dimensions of Marduk’s ziggurat, excavations at other sites seem to suggest that it probably had a footprint of more than 300’ by 300’, and that it probably rose more than 300’ in the air --so, while not as big as the biggest Egyptian pyramids, it was, nevertheless, a structure of immense proportions --anyway, over the course of time, a number of rulers extended the size and scope of ancient Babylon until it became a showcase of the ancient world --in the 8th century BCE, the Babylonians appear to have built one of the greatest monuments to their civilization, the so-called “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World --according to one Greek observer: The Garden is quadrangular, and each side is four plethra (approx. 400 feet?) long. It consists of arched vaults which are located on checkered cube-like foundations.. The ascent of the uppermost terrace-roofs is made by a stairway... --another writer claimed: The Hanging Garden has plants cultivated above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than in the earth. The whole mass is supported on stone columns... Streams of water emerging from elevated sources flow down sloping channels... These waters irrigate the whole garden saturating the roots of plants and keeping the whole area moist. Hence the grass is permanently green and the leaves of trees grow firmly attached to supple branches... This is a work of art of royal luxury and its most striking feature is that the labor of cultivation is suspended above the heads of the spectators. --well, this is what the Greeks claimed


--modern researchers aren’t entirely sure whether the Hanging Gardens ever really existed --instead, they suggest that the Greeks were simply describing a view of the entire city of Babylon, not a separate, identifiable pleasure garden --regardless, it seems that Babylon must have been an extraordinary place, even by modern standards of architecture and urban planning --Seven Wonders 1) Pyramids at Giza 2) Hanging Gardens of Babylon 3) Statue of Zeus at Olympia 4) Temple of Artemis at Ephesus 5) Mausoleum of Halicarnassus 6) Colossus of Rhodes 7) Lighthouse of Alexandria