Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Nineveh Assyrian Temple Relief No.V Plate 49 At Rawlinson Likely Shows the Jerwan Aqueduct, the King, the King's Road and Irrigated Fields, but NOT the Hanging Gardens

Stephanie Dalley in The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon thinks that the relief pictured below, which is from a palace at Kouyunjik, represents the "hanging gardens", but our initial reaction upon seeing this relief was that it pictured the Jerwan aqueduct in the upper right, the massive aqueduct built by Sennacherib (see images of that Jerwan Aqueduct here).

Also note the strange row of six trees right above the aqueduct at the right and get out your cuneiform bibles to find the key to that part of the relief.

Now let us take a look at our scan of Plate 49 from The Project Gutenberg EBook of George Rawlinson, The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World: Assyria, Volume 2 of 7, allegedly showing a relief of a so-labelled  "No. V Assyrian temple", a relief at the Northern Palace, Koyunjik:

Temple Columns with Jerwan Aqueduct, King, King's Road (?) and Irrigated Fields (?)

The original archaeological evaluation of the Jerwan Aqueduct was made by Thorkild Jacobsen and Seton Lloyd in Sennacherib's Aqueduct at Jerwan, prefaced by Henri Frankfort, with James Henry Breasted and Thomas George Allen, editors, University of Chicago Oriental Institute Publications, University of Chicago Press, Volume XXIV, May, 1935.

Their "tentative" imagined reconstruction of the head canal area of the Jerwan Aqueduct (see below) would seem to explain the temple form of the above "Assyrian temple" relief.

This is the Jerwan Aqueduct, not the Hanging Gardens.

Upper part of the "tentative reconstruction" of the canal head of the Jerwan Aqueduct
as proposed by Thorkild Jacobsen and Seton Lloyd in Sennacherib's Aqueduct at Jerwan,
U. of Chicago Oriental Institute Publications, U. of Chicago Press, Volume XXIV, May, 1935, p. 64.

If the Hanging Gardens were actually pictured in the "No. 5 Assyrian Temple relief", then the garden location would have to have been there at Jerwan. However, inspection of that location on modern photos shows it is an open rather barren plateau which is by no means suited for garden cultivation..

Additionally, it would seem quite improbable that an artist drawing the "hanging gardens" at Nineveh would have celebrated the Jerwan aqueduct many kilometers viz. miles distant by inclusion in the relief, but excluded the technological water supply advances made at the gardens themselves.

Moreover, even if the artist had wanted to depict a "water canal" right at the garden(s) -- similar in construction to the style at Jerwan -- that  aqueduct construction itself is simply much too massive for the garden itself.

Hence, the above relief is unlikely to show the "hanging gardens". More likely it is a pictorial celebration of the technological achievement of the Jerwan aqueduct as a source of water to irrigate the fields of Assyria all the way down the road to Nineveh.

That would explain the various streams of water portrayed, which arguably mark canal courses. The middle "road" running from the king and the temple in the relief could then simply be seen as the "king's road" in his "realm" pointed toward Nineveh, with temple columns and sculptures atop the aqueduct as symbols of his rule and achievement.

In this same line of argument, the six larger and taller trees above the Jerwan aqueduct to the right could be viewed as a key to understanding that relief, possibly being an "artistic complement" manifesting the ancient cuneiform symbol for irrigation, which was a row of trees, and which we find e.g. four times on the following irrigation map from Nippur dated many years previous, as depicted at Bert de Vries and  Johan Goudsblom editors, Mappae Mundi: Humans and Their Habitats in a Long-Term Socio-Ecological Perspective: Myths, Maps and Models (Google eBook), Amsterdam University Press, 2004, based on F.A.M. Wiggermann, Scenes from the Shadow Side, 207-230 in M.E. Vogelaar en H.L.J. van Stiphout, Mesopotamian Poetic Language: Sumerian and Akkadian, Groningen, 1996.

Fair use is not a very established doctrine in Europe so that we have redrawn the cuneiform image from scratch here and colored our image to avoid copyright issues and to emphasize the general shape of the cuneiform irrigation signs and their purpose ( consult the above link for a better image):

 We have more coming in future postings.

"Hanging" Gardens of Babylon were More Likely Elevated "High Orchard" Terraces

As noted by Stephanie Dalley in The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon, the ancient presumed naming of the garden(s) as "hanging" is traditional, but a translation of the original terms as "highly raised, terraced" is surely more accurate, giving the appearance of "pendant" viz. "suspended" trees and plants above the heads of the observers due to terracing. In German, the word "Hang" means slope, showing the confluence of meaning to sloped terracing.

Stephanie Dalley in The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon, page 220, note 33, informs us that the Greek term used in all sources except Antipater was kremastos kēpos [κρεμαστὸς κῆπος].

That term is found e.g. in Strabo, Book 16 Chapter 1: "ῥᾳδίως: διόπερ τῶν ἑπτὰ θεαμάτων λέγεται καὶ τοῦτο καὶ ὁ κρεμαστὸς κῆπος ἔχων ἐν τετραγώνῳ σχήματι ἑκάστην πλευρὰν τεττάρων πλέθρων"), which is the singular form of "garden", which then was translated into Latin by Quintius Curtius Rufus as the plural pensiles horti "gardens". That is presumably why Dalley uses the singular "garden" as the more likely correct version in her book title.

In Greek, κηπεύω (kípo) means "to garden viz. practice horticulture", a word related to ancient Indo-European as in e.g. English "keep" or Latvian kopt, kop- "to tend", said especially of housekeeping, animal care and farming. The so-called "garden" could also be e.g. an orchard.

The other "terrace-related" term κρεμαστὸς (kremastos) "hanging" is presumably found in the descriptive cuneiform comparable kirimāhu and the even older Sumerian KIRI.MAH.

The root term kiri- for the above terms suggests that the "Hanging Gardens" were more "orchards" full of trees than plant-dominated flat gardens as in Babylon or what is seen as a garden today. The PSD Sign List at ePSD (electronic University of Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary) contains the following:
  • kiri [ORCHARD] wr. ĝeškiri6; kiri6 "(fruit) plantation, orchard" Akk. kirû
  • kiri [orchard] mah [great] LEX / Old Babylonian / Nippur e2 ĝiš kiri6 mah OB Kagal 185[we separate above otherwise joined terms for easier viewing].
Acccordingly, the "hanging gardens" could have been more a "great orchard" than a garden in the traditional or southern Babylonian sense. 
Take a look below at our scan from The Project Gutenberg EBook of George Rawlinson, The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World: Assyria, Volume 2 of 7, Plate 49, showing a wall relief of an Assyrian temple, a relief that was found at the Northern Palace, Koyunjik:

Temple Columns with Jerwan Aqueduct, King, King's Road (?) and Irrigated Fields (?)

Stephanie Dalley thinks that the above relief from Kouyunjik is an illustration of the "hanging gardens". We discuss that idea in our next posting.

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