Segments in this Video

Introduction: The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon (01:09)


The ancient wonder is said to have been built 2,500 years ago by Nebuchadnezzar in Mesopotamia, for his homesick wife.

Site Location (03:40)

How the Hanging Gardens were irrigated is uncertain; no evidence of the gardens has been found in Babylonian ruins. Mesopotamian historian Stephanie Dalley asserts that they were built in Ninevah by Sennacherib, as indicated by his clay prism and palace depictions.

Irrigation Cranes (11:21)

The Hanging Gardens would have needed 300 tons of water daily; Jo Parker and John Oleson create a terrace model to test systems. Shadufs are depicted on a palace carving. The team replicates the lifting mechanism and concludes they were not used to irrigate the ancient wonder.

Irrigation Screw: Archimedes Type (05:55)

Sennacherib wrote about hanging gardens on his clay prism; a passage describes a water lifting system using a hollow tube and spiral pump. Oleson and carpenters recreate the earliest known design from wood, but texts indicate materials were clay and bronze.

Irrigation Screw: Prism Interpretation (06:23)

Sennacherib did not describe how he made the bronze helix pumps; Archaeo-metallurgist Andrew Lacey attempts to recreate them using ancient casting methods. He makes the mold from wood, rope, and clay, but is challenged by attaining temperatures high enough to liquefy the metal.

Irrigation Screw: Powering Tests (11:01)

Oleson completes the wooden helixes; Lacey succeeds in melting bronze. Ancient depictions suggest pedal systems were used to operate the lifting mechanism. A clay prism reference indicates ropes and chains turned the water elevator; both methods are successfully tested.

Irrigation Screw: Casting and Conclusion (07:56)

Sixteen helixes weighing two tons each would have been needed to water the Hanging Gardens. Lacey pours the melted bronze into molds; after cooling, they are broken off and the spirals are successfully tested. The system is determined to be Sennacherib's watering method.

Credits: The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon (00:51)

Credits: The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon

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Secrets Of The Ancients: The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon

Part of the Series : Secrets Of The Ancients
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Millennia after its destruction, the city of Babylon remains a symbol of extravagance and wealth. Its most celebrated feature was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The so-called Hanging Gardens of Babylon astounded and perplexed observers. How could such elaborate gardens possibly have been irrigated? Ancient sources describe a mysterious, hidden system of irrigation which carried water to the summit. So what was this system and how did it work? Without any archaeological evidence for the gardens surviving, this question becomes even more difficult to answer.

Length: 49 minutes

Item#: FPT185532

ISBN: 978-1-64867-000-8

Copyright date: ©1999

Closed Captioned

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