Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hanging Gardens of Nineveh?

According to Stephanie Dalley of Oxford, whom most of us know from her Myths from Mesopotamia, the hanging gardens belong to an engineering feat of the Assyrian King Sennacherib rather than the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar.  From the Guardian:
She [Dalley] was astonished to find Sennacherib's own description of an "unrivalled palace" and a "wonder for all peoples". He describes the marvel of a water-raising screw made using a new method of casting bronze – and predating the invention of Archimedes' screw by some four centuries.
Dalley said this was part of a complex system of canals, dams and aqueducts to bring mountain water from streams 50 miles away to the citadel of Nineveh and the hanging garden. The script records water being drawn up "all day".
Recent excavations have found traces of aqueducts. One near Nineveh was so vast that Dalley said its remains looked like a stretch of motorway from the air, and it bore a crucial inscription: "Sennacherib king of the world … Over a great distance I had a watercourse directed to the environs of Nineveh …"
She basically re-translates old Assryian and Babylonian tablets that she claims were mistranslated when they were discovered, and she traces the later Greek and Roman sources and their confusion about the Hanging Gardens.  Her newest book is coming out on the topic.

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