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The Palace Of Knossos

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Photo Credit: www.asiahotels.gr

When we think about the birth of western civilization, we recall Knossos and its stunning palace. Crete is called the cradle of Europe, after all, and Knossos, the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete, is reputed to be Europe’s oldest city!

Knossos is thought to be the first settlement in the Neolithic period, though it is in fact, one of many Neolithic remains scattered across Crete. The site of Knossos is multi-layered, revealing inhabitation for many, many years. From humble origins as an encampment, it eventually became the location of the most famous palace on the island, the Palace of Knossos.

Founding A Civilization

The Palace at Knossos flourished between 2700-1100BC when the Minoans shone as a prime example of Bronze Age Aegean civilization, both on the island of Crete and on other smaller Aegean islands. This palace, as well as the one at Phaistos, is remarkable due to the magnitude of its construction.

At the height of its power, the Palace of Knossos boasted the skills and resources of its inhabitants. These included oil, wine, and wool. Another source of revenue for the palace was the expansion of trade; the island of Crete was a humming hub of international import and export, with goods being shipped between Egypt, Italy, and the islands of the Cyclades.

Minoan fresco, showing a fleet and settlement.
The Beginning Of Knossos

What happened to Knossos, and why is it a ruin now? Well, the first Neolithic palace site dates around 7,000BC; these were wattle and daub structures and would have created a small village like enclosure.

The inhabitants of the hill-site eventually began using mud-bricks that were set upon stone bases. These houses usually had several rooms, with walls at right angles and cantered doorways. They also had huge stones supporting areas that were under the greatest stress. The inner walls were smoothed over with mud-plaster, and flat roofs of interwoven branches were covered in mud. Inside, the rooms had earthen-hearths that were usually located in the centre of the room.

Millennia-old amphorae in Knossos that have been pieced back together. (Ioannis Syrigos)

By the Middle Neolithic period, 5,000-4,000BC, the settlement housed between 500-1000 people. At this point, wood was being used in construction and houses became more family-oriented. Cretan family-life and society had arrived.

The Height Of The Palace Of Knossos

Around this time the first signs of the palace began to emerge. This ‘Great House’, as it’s known, was 100m2, built from stone, and had five rooms. Given the size and layout, it was more likely to be for public use rather than private/domestic occupation.

The new palace made extensive use of colonnades. (Ioannis Syrigos)

Fast-forward a few centuries to around the second millennium BC and you’ll see the construction of first Cretan palaces that we might recognize. Earthquakes destroyed these palaces around 1,700BC, but they were soon rebuilt even grander than before.

At its height, Knossos covered a massive 3-acre site. It had an enormous staircase, staterooms on the top floor, sixteen storage rooms for pithoi (large earthenware containers), and an impressive plumbing system that included bathrooms, toilets, and drainage!

The palace’s construction included both stonework and timber, the rooms were lit with light-wells, and the wooden columns were ornate, not just structural. Adding to the majesty of the palace were brightly colored frescoes that depicted everyday Minoan life, some of which are still visible today.

All this splendour was attributed to the mighty sea empire that King Minos developed. According to Herodotus, this powerful empire lasted for hundreds of years, reaching its peak around 1,450BC before a series of events began its steady decline.

Throne Room, Palace of Knossos, Crete, Greece. Ed Freeman / Getty Images
The Decline Of The Palace Of Knossos

Much like the story of Pompeii, Knossos fell victim to a cataclysmic event; the volcanic eruption on the island of Thira (Santorini) c. 1,370BC. At the time, mainland Greeks had begun to inhabit the island, bringing with them their influences, both artistic and military.

The famous Ladies in Blue fresco that once adorned the walls of Knossos palace. (Ioannis Syrigos)

After the eruption, it’s thought that successive invasions by the Mycenaeans brought about the final blows. Soon, as with much of the island, the palace lay in ruins. The site was abandoned and it passed into the dusty pages of history. That is, until the early 20th century when a man named Sir Arthur Evans, inspired by stories of a Minotaur and fabled kings, began exploring. The rest, as they say, is history.

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Sources:

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The Sacred Ghost Town Of Ani, City Of 1001 Churches: Deserted By Man, Destroyed By Nature

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The Sacred Ghost Town Of Ani, City Of 1001 Churches: Deserted By Man, Destroyed By Nature
Photo Credit: Ancient Origins

Veronica Parkes, Ancient Origins

First mentioned in the 5th century by Armenian chroniclers, the “Ghost City” of Ani was described as a strong fortress on a hilltop that was a possession of the Armenian Kamsarakan dynasty. From this point on and throughout its occupation, the site had a turbulent history: changing hands multiple times, withstanding sieges, massacres, earthquakes, and looting – which led to its eventual abandonment. Despite this, the site has been seen as a place of extreme beauty, architectural marvel, and rich history for both the Turks and Armenians. While it remains a point of contention between these two nationalities, it is currently being restored, and conserved as an important piece of world history which may lead to it being named a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Ruins of the Cathedral of Ani and the church of Redeemer in Ani, an ancient capital of Armenia in the 10th century. ( CC BY 2.0 )
Ruins of the Cathedral of Ani and the church of Redeemer in Ani, an ancient capital of Armenia in the 10th century. ( CC BY 2.0 )
The Growth Of An Armenian Capital

In the 9th century, Ani had been incorporated in the territories of the Armenian Bagratuni dynasty. At this time, the capital of the territory moved from Bagaran to Shirakavan, and then Kars. Finally, the capital was moved to Ani in 961. It was during this time that Ani began its rapid expansion, and in 992 the Armenian Catholicosate, the hierarchical see of the apostolic church, moved its seat to Ani. By the start of the 11th century the population of Ani was well over 100,000 and it gained renown as the “city of forty gates” and the “city of a thousand and one churches.” Ani also became the site of the royal mausoleum of the Bagratuni kings of Armenia. In the middle of the 11th century, King Gagik II opposed several Byzantine armies and was able to fend them off for a time. However, in 1046, Ani surrendered to the Byzantines and a Byzantine governor was installed in the city.

Church of Saint Gregory (King Gagik) ( CC BY SA 3.0 )
Captured & Contested City

In 1064, a large Seljuk army attacked Ani, and after a 25 day siege the city was captured decimating its population. In 1072, the Seljuks sold Ani to the Shaddadids, a Muslim Kurdish dynasty. At this time, the Shaddadids employed a conciliatory policy towards the city’s predominantly Armenian and Christian populace. However, the people found their new rulers too intolerant and they appealed to the Christian kingdom of Georgia. Between 1124 and 1209, the city moved back and forth between the Georgians and the Shaddadids numerous times until it was finally captured by the Georgians. In 1236, the Mongols captured the city and massacred much of the population. By the 14 th century, the city was under the control of local Turkish dynasties and soon became part of the Ottoman Empire. An earthquake devastated the site in 1319, reducing the city to a mere village. In 1735 the site was completely abandoned when the last monks left the monastery.

The religious landscape of the medieval Armenian city of Ani, now in Turkey, as viewed from Armenia. (CC BY SA 3.0 )
Religious Remains

Called the “city of a thousand and once churches”, archaeologists have found at least 40 churches, chapels, and mausoleums, all designed by the greatest architectural and artistic minds of their time. The Cathedral of Ani stands above the city, despite its collapsed dome and destroyed northwest corner it remains imposing in scale. It was completed in 1001 by the Armenian King Gagik I, at the peak of prosperity in the city, and designed by Trdat, the renowned Armenian architect who also served the Byzantines by helping them repair the dome of Hagia Sophia.

Two people sitting inside the Cathedral of Ani just a hundred metres from the border of Armenia. Large parts of the roof have fallen down, allowing daylight to find its way into the building. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )
Two people sitting inside the Cathedral of Ani just a hundred metres from the border of Armenia. Large parts of the roof have fallen down, allowing daylight to find its way into the building. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

The Church of the Redeemer stands today as half a church propped up by scaffolding. However, in its time it was an architectural marvel featuring 19 archways and a dome, all made from local reddish-brown volcanic basalt. This church also housed a fragment of the true cross, on which Christ was crucified. In the 10 th century, the Church of St. Gregory of the Abughamrentists was built as a 12-sided chapel that has a dome carved with blind arcades. In the early 20 th century, a mausoleum was discovered buried under the church’s north side, likely containing the remains of Prince Grigor Pahlavuni. Unfortunately, like many of the sites at Ani, the prince’s sepulchre has been looted.

The supported ruins of The Church of the Redeemer (CC BY SA 3.0 )
The supported ruins of The Church of the Redeemer (CC BY SA 3.0 )

Under the control of the Shaddadids, buildings such as the mosque of Manuchihr were erected. The minaret still stands, from when the mosque was originally built in the late 11th century, perched on the edge of a cliff. The rest of the mosque’s features are likely later additions. The original purpose of the mosque is contested by the Armenians and Turks. Some believe that the building once served as a palace for the Armenian Bagratid dynasty and was later converted into a mosque. The other side of the argument maintains that the structure was originally built as a mosque, and thus was the first mosque in Anatolia. Both sides hold that the mosque is more important to their nationality.

The ruins of Manucehr Mosque, an 11th century mosque built among the ruins of Ani. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )
The ruins of Manucehr Mosque, an 11th century mosque built among the ruins of Ani. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )
A Struggle For Preservation

In 1892, the first archaeological excavations were conducted at the site of Ani, sponsored by the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and supervised by Nicholas Marr. From this excavation, numerous buildings were uncovered, documented in academic journals, and presented in guidebooks, and the entire site was surveyed. Emergency repairs were undertaken on the buildings that were most at risk of collapse, and a museum was established in the Minuchihr mosque and a purpose-built building housing thousands of items found during the excavations. In World War I, about 6000 artifacts were moved from the museum to the collection of Yerevan’s State Museum of Armenian History; what remained in Ani was eventually looted or destroyed. Turkey’s surrender at the end of the war lead to the restoration of Ani to Armenian control. But, in 1921 Ani was incorporated into the Republic of Turkey.

Today, Turkish-Armenian tensions leave the site hotly contested. Despite this, there is an ongoing effort by archaeologists and activists to preserve the ruins. Historians have long argued for the historical importance of Ani as a forgotten nexus, as a result Ani is now on a tentative list for recognition as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Restoration efforts began in 2011 by the World Monument Fund in partnership with the Turkish Ministry of Culture, and they may be able to preserve what is left of the ghost city.

Kizkale Church viewed from the citadel ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

This article (The Sacred Ghost Town Of Ani, City Of 1001 Churches: Deserted By Man, Destroyed By Nature) was originally featured at Ancient Origins and is re-posted here under Creative Commons.

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The 500 Year Old Map That Shatters The Official History Of The Human Race

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The 500 Year Old Map That Shatters The Official History Of The Human Race
Photo Credit: Waking Times

If conventional wisdom on the history of the human race is correct, then human civilization is not old enough, nor was it advanced enough, to account for many of the mysterious monolithic and archaeological sites around the world. Places like Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, the Bosnian Pyramids, and Adam’s Calendar in South Africa, beg the same question: if human civilization is supposedly not old enough to have created all of these sites, then who, or what, had the capacity to create so many elaborate structures around the globe?

It is clear that our understanding of our own history is incomplete, and there is plenty of credible evidence pointing to the existence of intelligent and civilized cultures on Earth long before the first human cultures emerged from the Middle East around 4000BC. The Admiral Piri Reis world map of 1513 is part of the emerging more complete story of our history, one that challenges mainstream thinking in big ways.

Mapmaking is a complex and civilized task, thought to have emerged around 1000BC with the Babylonian clay tablets. Antarctica was officially first sighted by a Russian expedition in 1820 and is entirely covered in ice caps thought to have formed around 34-45 million years ago. Antarctica, therefore, should not be seen on any map prior to 1820, and all sighted maps of Antarctica should contain the polar ice caps, which are supposedly millions of years old.

A world map made by Ottoman cartographer and military admiral, Piri Reis, casts some doubt on what we think we know about ancient civilization.

The Piri Reis map, which focuses on Western Africa, the East Coast of South America, and the North Coast of Antarctica, features the details of a coastline that many historians and geologists believe represents Queen Maud Land, that is, Antarctica. Remarkably, as represented in this map, the frigid continent was not covered in ice caps, but, rather, with dense vegetation. How could a map drawn in 1513 feature a continent that wasn’t discovered until 1820? And if the continent had in fact been discovered by one of the civilizations known to have emerged after 4000BC, why were the ice caps not on the map?

The paradoxes presented by the map were of little significance to the world until Charles Hapgood, a history professor from New Hampshire, USA, claimed that the information in the Piri Reis map supported a different view of geology and ancient history. Hapgood believed that the map verified his global geological theory, which explains how portions of Antarctica could have remained ice-free until 4000BC.

Hapgood’s presentation is so convincing that even famed theoretical physicist and philosopher Albert Einstein wrote the following supportive forward to a book that Hapgood wrote in 1953:

“His idea is original, of great simplicity, and – if it continues to prove itself – of great importance to everything that is related to the history of the Earth’s surface.” – Albert Einstein

This map was found in the Library of Congress, Washington DC in 1960 by Charles Hapgood

Unquestionably not a hoax, the map is certifiably authentic, but the information on the map is of mysterious origin. Piri Reis himself notes that the map was drawn from information sourced from other, older maps, charts and logs, many of which, Hapgood suggests, may have been copied and transcribed repeatedly since before the destruction of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, which wiped out the literature of antiquity and vast cultural knowledge.

This hypothesis opens the door to the possibility that some forgotten ancient civilization had the capacity to voyage to the Antarctic, charting the earth, with the technology to make maps, sometime before the ice caps formed. A significant departure from our present understanding of our history.

The absence of the ice caps in the Piri Reis map is peculiar, and in 1960 Hapgood brought his theories on this to the attention of the United States Air Force. Hapgood asked, among other things, if the shape of the continent, as it appeared on the Piri Reis map, was at all similar to the shape of the continent under the ice, as revealed by recent Air Force testing of seismic data on the continent. Their answer was astonishing:

“…the geographical detail shown in the lower part of the map agrees very remarkably with the results of the seismic profile made across the top of the ice-cap by the Swedish-British Antarctic Expedition of 1949.

This indicates the coastline had been mapped before it was covered by the ice-cap.

The ice-cap in this region is now about a mile thick.

We have no idea how the data on this map can be reconciled with the supposed state of geographical knowledge in 1513.

Harold Z. Ohlmeyer
Lt. Colonel, USAF
Commander”

[Fingerprints of the Gods]

If Hapgood’s theory has merit, as even Einstein believed, then there was a period of time from around 13000BC to 6000BC when Antarctica was located more closely to the equator and was more tropical in climate, much like parts of South America. This was caused by a sudden shift of the earth’s entire lithosphere, he theorized, simultaneously moving all of the continents into their present position, a much different view than the widely accepted explanation offered the plate tectonics theory.

If Antarctica had indeed been further North than it presently is, and was not covered in ice only as recently as 6000BC, then who was around back then that could have mapped it, long before any known civilizations? And who could have done so long before the advent of the marine chronometer in the 18th century, which finally solved the problem of accurately tracking longitude on the high seas?

Had the entire Earth already been mapped by 4000BC, by a civilization that has been forgotten, as analysis of the Piri Reis map and the theories of Charles Hapgood suggest?

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

About the Author

Buck Rogers is the earth bound incarnation of that familiar part of our timeless cosmic selves, the rebel within. He is a surfer of ideals and meditates often on the promise of happiness in a world battered by the angry seas of human thoughtlessness.

This article (The 500 Year Old Map That Shatters The Official History Of The Human Race) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license.

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History

Alexander The Great – The Macedonian King

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Alexander The Great, The Macedonian King
Photo Credit: www.ancient.eu

Alexander III of Macedon is perhaps one of the most notorious figures to come out of the ancient world, for better or worse. Born in Pella in 356 BCE to the King Philip II, it seemed destined that Alexander the Great follow in the family business of military campaigns and kingdom expansion.

Because of the status achieved by Alexander and his father, the circumstances of his early life are often mired in legend. His birth was thought to be linked to a bright star over Macedonia. The author Plutarch wrote that he was born on the same night as the destruction of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, and that soothsayers ran about the city saying that something had been brought into the world that one day would lead to the destruction of all of Asia. Alexander himself thought he was the son of Zeus and was related thereupon to Achilles and Herakles.

In his youth, Alexander studied math, philosophy, music, writing, archery, and riding while his father King Philip was at war subduing the rest of Greece. One notable aspect of Alexander’s early life and education is that he was tutored by Aristotle at the request of the king. This tutor-student relationship developed into an earnest friendship, and the two kept up communication with one another throughout Alexander’s later life.

Alexander The Great’s Early Career

It wasn’t long before Alexander began to participate in the family business of battle. At just 18, Alexander helped the Macedonians win at the Battle of Charonea in 338, defeating the opposing Greek city states. Two years later in 336, Alexander was crowned king after Philip II’s assassination. It is at this juncture, with the Greek city states subjugated to Macedonian rule, that Alexander continued east to tackle the Persian Empire. A series of advances into Asia Minor in 334, including the sack of Baalbeck, the liberation of Ephesos, and the successful defeat of Darius III of Persia at the Battle of Issos, all allowed Alexander to gain traction, support, and respect amongst his troops and people. By 332, just four years after he became king, Alexander had conquered Syria and then Egypt a year later in 331.

Alexander The Great & The East

Alexander’s campaigns pushing east are, by any respect, an incredible feat of military prowess. He followed in his father’s footsteps and wanted to overtake the Persian Empire, which was under the rule of Darius III at the time. Like at the battle of Issos, Alexander dealt a decisive blow to the Persian Empire in 331 at the Battle of Guagamela. Darius had again retreated, not able to match the massive army of Macedonians. Soon after, Darius was assassinated and Alexander proclaimed himself king of Asia.

Alexander and his army continued on, taking cities like Susa, Persepolis, Bactria, and Sogdianna. Along his routes, Alexander would rename and establish new eponymous cities. In no small part due to his Aristotlean education, Alexander generally allowed conquered cities to carry on their own customs, but he knew that his image had to be held highest amongst their own. Because of this, he adopted the title ShahanSha, meaning King of Kings, originally used by the first rulers of the Persian Empire.

Political propaganda stretched far and wide, and Alexander was increasingly adopting Persian customs. This led to a growing level of distrust amongst the Macedonian troops, while trust within the higher ranks was splintering. Assassination plots, conspiracies, and treason were no strangers to Alexander’s court.

Still, Alexander remained in control and eventually reached India, where the king submitted to Alexander’s rule, not wishing to incur his wrath and destruction in an effort of resistance. However, the Aspasioi and Assakenoi tribes were not as easy, and they launched a resistance against the incoming army.

327 and 326 saw several battles, but the eventual victory went to Alexander. His army was still with him and things still looked promising for a crossing of the Ganges river, but then the troops revolted and refused to go any further. Alexander and his troops made their way back to Macedonia, stopping to reassert control on the way in areas that had become restless. By the time they got home, the army had sustained severe losses, moral was null, and trust was severely waning.

Alexander The Great After The Persian Conquest

After the regions in the east had been conquered, Alexander maintained control by placing satraps in charge as local rulers. Upon his return, though, he learned that many of these local rulers had abused their power and so Alexander had them executed. The Macedonian king made it clear that he did not just want to conquer the Persian Empire, but that he wanted to integrate it into the Macedonian network. Intermarriage between the Macedonian royal family and Persian elites, placing Persians in prominent military roles, and the merging of Persian and Macedonian military units all were attempts by Alexander to merge the two very distinct cultures.

Alexander The Great’s Death & Legacy

Alexander died on June 10th or 11th, 323, at the age of just 32, due to fever. Of course speculation persists as to whether it was fever, poison, or a number of other causes. He was to be succeeded either by “the strongest” or by Perdiccas, the friend of Alexander’s closest companion and confidante, Hephaistion. Nonetheless, Perdiccas was assassinated in 321 and the empire was split into four.

Alexander continues to be considered one of the greatest military generals of all time, accomplishing feats of campaign that hadn’t been seen up to that point. He was talented in his command, but often contradictory, choosing to uphold tradition and honour part of the time, and razing cities to the ground the other part. It should not be disregarded that the campaigns of Alexander the Great were brutal and impressive. He left a strong mark on the ancient world, and we still interact with it intimately today- just think of the half a dozen cities named Alexandria throughout the eastern Mediterranean.

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

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History

The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon

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The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
A representation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Photo Credit: Ferdinand Knab

The mention of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon conjures up images of an oasis in the midst of a bustling city; a vibrant Eden of lush trees, shrubs, and vines supported with beautiful pillars and architecture. The gardens are thought to have been built by King Nebuchadnezzar II sometime in the 6th century BCE. While it is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, its actual existence is quite contested, with three theories prevailing: that the gardens were purely mythical and idealized in the minds of writers and travellers; that they did exist, but were razed in the first century BCE; and that the “hanging gardens of Babylon” actually refers to a garden built in Nineveh by the Assyrian King Sennacherib.

Like many ancient marvels, our knowledge of the hanging gardens comes down to us via written record and subsequently should be taken with a grain of salt.

Diodorus Siculus wrote that the gardens were square, tiered, and made of 22 feet thick brick walls. He mentions that the terraces themselves resembled a theatre, sloping upwards to a height of 20 meters. Strabo writes that the gardens were located by the Euphrates river, running through Babylon, and utilized complex irrigation to draw up water from the river to water the gardens. It is very likely that any classical writer focusing on the hanging gardens would have had to reference earlier works from the 5th and 4th centuries. Unfortunately, the earliest extant writing we have of the gardens comes to us in quotes from the Babylonian priest, Berossus, around 290 BCE.

North Palace of Nebuchadnezzar II
North Palace of Nebuchadnezzar II

Nonetheless, these authors provide us with a baseline of what these gardens may have looked like and where they may have been located. Gardens such as these would have required a great deal of resources to build and maintain, and so it is likely that they were located in or near the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, if they existed at all. Extensive excavations of the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II has revealed gates, vaulted rooms, double walls, tablets, large drains, and a possible reservoir. Nothing has been produced though, either in the archaeological record or the written records, that corroborates the Greek description of the gardens of Babylon. Since the written records consist of an exhaustive list of Nebuchadnezzar’s achievements while king, if he built the gardens they would have surely been listed, but they are not.

Artistic Illustration of the Gardens of Babylon

What do we make of this lack of evidence? Did Greek authors just fall victim to hearsay without ever even seeing the gardens, having never existed at all? Or did they just exist perhaps at a different time and place?

The fact that the gardens are discussed in a wide variety of Greek sources, spanning hundreds of years, and the fact that gardens like the fabled one at Babylon were quite common and not out of the question, it is difficult to outright deny the existence of the gardens altogether.

One possibility is that the gardens were not in fact located in Babylon, but 350 miles north in Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. Recent scholarship from Stephanie Dalley claims to have found evidence in Nineveh texts of King Sennacherib that describes an “unrivaled palace” and a “wonder for all peoples.” Extensive aqueduct systems as well as water-raising screws have both been found in Nineveh and may have certainly provided the irrigation needs of such prominent gardens.

The confusion may be as simple as ancient geographers and authors attributing the name “Babylon” to several places, or just getting the kingdoms of Babylon and Assyria confused in the first place. Since the Greek and Latin texts we have on the hanging gardens all reference back to one another, using the same base sources, a mistake in one is unsurprisingly carried through them all.

Still, whether real or not, the very idea of the hanging gardens of Babylon was a prevalent one in the minds of the Greeks and Latins. The literary attention that persisted on the subject must have captured the imagination of Hellenistic Greeks and Romans of the Empire, much like it does today.

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

Sources:

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www.britannica.com

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