Did The Hanging Gardens Even Exist? The Most Mysterious Wonder Of The Ancient World

By Karen Harris
An artist rendition of the Hanging Gardens. (Getty Images)

Of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only one of them, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, has remained elusive to archaeologists and historians. In fact, they may have never existed.

What Were The Hanging Gardens, And Why Did They Hang?

According to accounts in Greek and Roman texts, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were a lush, manmade oasis in the desert. It was supposedly built by King Nebuchadnezzar II in the sixth century B.C.E. as a special gift to his beloved wife, Amytis, who had moved to Babylon from Media upon her wedding and quickly grew homesick for the green gardens and fragrant flowers of her homeland.

The gardens were said to be 75 feet tall, consisting of vines, herbs, and flowers cascading from terraces alongside waterfalls, giving the impression that the foliage was hanging from above. To keep them alive in the hot, dry climate of Babylon, the king's engineers had to design a series of waterwheels, water screws, and pumps that diverted water from the Euphrates River to the top tier of the garden, while wells and cisterns held water that would be delivered to the plants. It was a system that was well ahead of its time ... if it existed.