By Manuela Hoelterhoff
A reconstruction of the city of Babylon, in 625 BC, with the Tower of Babel in the distance, and one of the ancient world’s seven wonders, the Hanging Gardens, built by King Nubuchadnezzar. Source: Three Lions/Getty Images
Ozymandias, king of kings, meet Sennacherib, king of the world.
About 700 years before the birth of Christ, the restless Assyrian listed his deeds on palace walls and artifacts.
“I led vast armies,” Sennacherib writes. “I made the desert bloom and built splendid palaces in Nineveh. Best of all, when the king of Judea misbehaved, I stuck him in a birdcage for a while.”
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That’s a highlight from the annals he left in cuneiform on a curious eight-sided object now housed in the British Museum. I paraphrase slightly.
Did Sennacherib (who reigned from 705 to 681 BC) also build the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the ancient world’s seven wonders?
Credit usually flows to Nebuchadnezzar II, a later Babylonian king who actually lived in Babylon. He makes several appearances in the Holy Bible and wanders singing through the Hanging Gardens in a tuneful opera by Verdi.