Garden art in the Middle East

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Depiction of a palace garden in an Assyrian relief

The gardens of the Assyrians and Babylonians as well as those of the Achaemenids and Sassanids, who also worked in the Middle East, belong to the garden art in the Middle East .


The Gilgamesh epic mentions gardens in Uruk . Royal tombs in Ur from the third millennium contained a golden headdress adorned with daisies . Date palms and tamarisks grew in the Sumerian palace gardens , in the shade of which feasts were held.


Some rulers left indications of their gardens on inscriptions. So boasts Tiglath-pileser I. (1115-1077 BC..) Of lush gardens; a stone stele was found in Nimrud , which describes the royal garden of Assurnasirpal II (883–859 BC); a cuneiform tablet in the British Museum , London is kept, the plants in the garden is one of the Babylonian king Marduk-APLA-Iddina II. (721-710 v. Chr.) and a befindliches also in the British Museum relief of Ashurbanipal (668- 627 BC) gives an impression of an Assyrian pleasure garden .

King Sargon II (721–705) and Sennacherib (705–681) established large hunting parks, established trees such as cypresses , cedars , palms and cotton in these parks and tried to plant plants from all over the world in their palace gardens. Among other things, date palms, pomegranates and pines grew in holy groves . Assyrian reliefs from Nineveh show vines growing in trees and Madonna lilies . On the reliefs, kings often hold the red illuru flower in their hands.

The hanging gardens of Babylon

Whether the Hanging Gardens of Babylon , considered one of the seven wonders of the world in ancient times , really existed is a matter of dispute.

Diodorus Siculus , who lived in the 1st century AD, writes about this garden: “Next to the castle there was also the so-called hanging garden (...) on each side about four plethren long, rising like a mountain, one floor above the other, so that it presented a sight like a theater. Rows of walls were built under the rising terraces, which had to bear the whole heaviness of the garden and which, as the whole rose, always protruded a little over the previous ones (...) so earth was brought in deep enough for the largest trees Could take root. Above the ground was leveled and planted with numerous trees, which delighted the mind of the beholder both through their size and through other loveliness. "

Persian royal gardens

After the conquest of Mesopotamia in 539 BC. The Persians took over the garden culture of the Babylonians and Assyrians. Archaeological evidence is also rather sparse for the ancient Persian gardens . Most of what we know about these gardens comes from Greek historians.

Xenophon reports: “In whatever areas (the Persian king) lives or to whichever he turns, he takes care that there are gardens, the so-called Parádeisoi , full of all beautiful and good things that the earth may produce, and He stays there most of the time, as long as the season allows it. "

The Persian Parádeisoi not only included the gardens of the royal palaces, as they were already laid out by Cyrus II (559-529), the founder of the Persian Empire and which Darius I (549-486 BC) had completed. The Parádeisoi also included the extensive orchards that were intended to supply the population. Xenophon reports that Cyrus the Younger boasted of having planted such orchards himself. Also at the Parádeisoi the large royal are deer park and hunting park counted. A relief from Apadana in Persepolis shows how the Elamites offer lions as tribute . There were also wild fowl in the royal park. We know from administration boards from the time of Darius I that, for example, peacocks were fed grain. According to Xenophon, Parádeisoi were in Daskyleion , Sittake and Syria.

The first European park

The Greek mercenary Xenophon got to know the Persian Parádeisoi when he was in 401 BC. BC in the so-called " train of ten thousand " crossed Upper Mesopotamia and Armenia . The Persian word pairidaeza means fence. Xenophon introduced it as the word for garden in the Greek vocabulary, from where it became the Central European " paradise ". After his return he set up a wildlife park inspired by it on his Skillous estate near Olympia , which was described by Pausanias in the 2nd century AD. It is the oldest documented park in Europe.

See also

History of garden art # Garden art in antiquity


  • Kai Brodersen : The hanging gardens of Babylon , in: Hans Sarkowicz (ed.): The history of gardens and parks , Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2001. ISBN 3-458-34423-3
  • Georges Contenau: This is how the Babylonians and Assyrians lived , DVA, Stuttgart 1959.
  • Alexander Demandt : Above all tops. The tree in the cultural history , Böhlau, Cologne 2002. ISBN 3-412-13501-1
  • Irving L. Finkel: The hanging gardens of Babylon , in: Peter A. Clayton (Ed.): Die Sieben Weltwunder , Reclam, Leipzig 2000. ISBN 3-379-01701-9
  • Penelope Hobhouse: Persian Gardens. Paradiese des Orients , Kneseback, Munich 2005. ISBN 3-89660-271-3
  • Michaela Kalusok: Schnellkurs Gartenkunst , DuMont, Cologne 2003, ISBN 3-8321-7604-7 .
  • Heidemarie Koch : Dareios the King announces…. From life in the great Persian empire . Zabern Verlag, Mainz 2000, ISBN 3-8053-1347-0 .
  • Hans Sarkowicz (Ed.): The history of gardens and parks , Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2001, ISBN 3-458-34423-3 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Penelope Hobhouse, Gardening through the Ages. London, Simon & Schuster 1992
  2. ^ Penelope Hobhouse, Gardening through the Ages. London, Simon & Schuster 1992, 16
  3. ^ Penelope Hobhouse, Gardening through the Ages. London, Simon & Schuster 1992, 16
  4. ^ Penelope Hobhouse, Gardening through the Ages. London, Simon & Schuster 1992, 17
  5. Oikonomikos 4,13
  6. Edgar Markus Luschin, Römische Gartenanlagen: Studies on garden art and urban planning in Roman antiquity, Grin Verlag 2010, p. 33, note 151