Archaeologists have struggled for years to locate the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the oft-described wonder of the ancient world that housed a tropical garden in the middle of the ancient desert metropolis of Babylon. Now, recent discoveries have shed light on why it is so difficult to find a landmark so prominent in ancient texts – it may not be in Babylon at all, but rather in Babylon’s northern rival city of Nineveh.
Evidence for the location of the Hanging Gardens being in Nineveh not only include the lack of evidence of a physical footprint for the gardens in Babylon, but also the much more favorable topography of the ancient city of Nineveh that would lend it to terraced gardens and intricate systems of aqueducts.
Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, a rival to Babylon that eventually conquered it. Sennacherib’s name appears on inscriptions in Mosul describing his commissioning of a great aqueduct to direct water from the mountains to his city of Nineveh, and depictions of the ancient city show gardens in its vicinity.