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By Frank on 03-09-15
A really solid academic book
This was a cool book. Thankfully more and more books on Assyriology are available on Audible. The writing wasn't quite as fluid, or maybe just enthusiastic, as Irving Finkel's book I read about a month ago on Mesopotamian flood stories but this was still really good.
The scholarship here from Stephanie Dalley is really, really solid. The prose is super straight forward and she presents her thesis really well and breaks the chapters down really logically and in a good order.
Her main point and thesis is challenging the idea that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built in the actual and literal city of Babylon but instead the Assyrian city of Nineveh.
She shows several different historical examples of how in several different cultures, like classical Greece and Rome, Babylon was used to name several different cities in Mesopotamia. She also talks about this Sumerian idea of Archetypes, I'm not sure if that's the word she uses or not, that were kind of a pre-dating of Plato's Forms.
She describes the Sumerian idea of Archetypes as initial gifts from the gods to humans, things like literature and engineering.
Then she shows how this concept led to people throughout history being associated with figures from the past or their ideas being associated with people and ideas from the past to give them legitimacy in their own time.
Also Stephanie Dalley shows how literal interpretations of the Hebrew Bible led several scholars in the 19th and 20th centuries to believe that Nineveh ceased to exist and thrive after 618 (or 612?) BCE because of The Book of Jonah.
She spends a lot of time showing several textual examples from several sources how Nineveh continued to thrive and exist well beyond its original conquest around 618 BCE.
There is also a lot of time spent talking about Archimedes screw and where it likely came from and how it pre-dates Archimedes by some time, I think.
There is a decent amount of general Ancient Mesopotamian history and information here, too, though maybe not as much as I would have liked. This book stuck to its main thesis pretty closely and didn't go off on too many tangents.
But yeah, it's great seeing really solid publishers like Oxford Press putting out solid books on Assyriology and seeing them come out as Audiobooks. This was definitely a great read.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Shelley Nealley on 05-08-16
What did you love best about The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon?
Excellent book - great for history lovers and engineers
What did you like best about this story?
Well explained references
What aspect of Napoleon Ryan’s performance would you have changed?
He was terrible
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Yes - it was really entertaining for a book on ancient architecture
Any additional comments?
Ryan was terrible...