The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon

  • by Stephanie Dalley
  • Narrated by Napoleon Ryan
  • 8 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon is an exciting story of detection involving legends, expert decipherment of ancient texts, and a vivid description of a little-known civilization. Recognized in ancient times as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the legendary Hanging Garden of Babylon and its location still remains a mystery steeped in shadow and puzzling myths. In this remarkable volume Stephanie Dalley, a world expert on ancient Babylonian language, gathers for the first time all the material on this enigmatic World Wonder. Tracing the history of the Garden, Dalley describes how the decipherment of an original text and its link to sculpture in the British Museum has enabled her to pin down where the Garden was positioned and to describe in detail what it may have looked like. Through this dramatic and fascinating reconstruction of the Garden, Dalley is also able to follow its influence on later garden design. Like a palimpsest, Dalley unscrambles the many legends that have built up around the Garden, including the parts played by Semiramis and Nebuchadnezzar, and following the evolution of its design, she shows why this Garden deserves its place alongside the Pyramids and the Colossus of Rhodes as one of the most astonishing technical achievements of the ancient world.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Frank

Outstanding book

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...

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- Shelley Nealley

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-25-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios