Hanging Gardens Of Babylon Mislabeled? Researcher Says Ancient Wonder Wasn't Babylonian

05/10/2013 08:50 am ET | Updated May 10, 2013
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Newly released research suggests that for thousands of years, scientists have misidentified one of the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World."

The engineering marvel known as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon wasn't in Babylon at all -- but several hundred miles north, in Assyria, according to Dr. Stephanie M. Dalley of the University of Oxford's Oriental studies department.

The gardens were believed to have been built by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II near the Euphrates River around 600 B.C.E. At least, that was the location listed by ancient historians, The Independent reported.

But these accounts, written centuries later, have always been a bit questionable, the History Channel notes. Now Dalley, who has worked on the topic on and off for many years, has confirmed that they are inaccurate and misleading.

Using her knowledge of cuneiform, Dalley uncovered Assyrian King Sennacherib's own description of an "unrivalled palace" with a "wonder of all peoples," according to The Guardian. He also described a complex water-raising screw invention that could have been used to create the garden's distinctive characteristic, she said.

Furthermore, while extensive excavation has failed to turn up conclusive evidence of the gardens at the Babylonian location, Dalley says there is archaeological evidence of sophisticated water systems in the Assyrian city of Nineveh, The Telegraph reported.

Nineveh, located near modern-day Mosul in Iraq, has received relatively little academic attention to date, because it has been judged "too dangerous," the Guardian reported. But as peace slowly returns to the region, perhaps that is about to change.

Dalley presents evidence for her claims in a new book, The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon, due out this summer.

Dalley said her book is the result of many years of work. (She postulated the Hanging Gardens might be Assyrian as far back as 1992.)

"There was a series of different problems, many of which I tackled in academic papers separately over the years," Dalley told The Huffington Post in an email. "I could not envisage trying to write a whole book until I had made progress on most of them."

The historical mistake, if Dalley's research proves correct, was able to exist undetected for so many years because the issue itself is so complex.

"There was no single error," Dalley said. "If it had been such a simple matter, it would have been solved long ago."

NOTE: This post has been modified to include additional information.

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