Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon in Assyrian Nineveh

Who Built the Hanging Gardens of the Babylon?
The Secrets of the Dead - "The Lost Gardens of Babylon"
by PBS

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon in Assyrian Nineveh

Sennacherib’s garden without a rival...

May 13, 2014

“In this palace he erected very high walks, supported by stone pillars; and by planting
what was called a pensile paradise, and replenishing it with all sorts of trees, he
rendered the prospect an exact resemblance of a mountainous country.”
- Josephus, Contra Appion, lib.1. c.19-20 (quoting Berossus).

This Assyrian relief from Nineveh (now housed at the British Museum) shows trees hanging in the air on terraces and plants suspended on stone arches that resemble those from Sennacherib’s waterways, supporting the idea of a hanging garden at Nineveh.

Okay, I know what you are thinking. We know where the Seven Wonders were, because the locations are included in their names. The Great Pyramid of Giza. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Let’s stop at that last one. In the third century B.C.E., Berossus wrote that the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II built the Hanging Gardens almost three hundred years earlier, and his statement was copied by later historians, including Josephus. However, there is no archaeological evidence indicating the presence of massive gardens at Babylon, and while we have hundreds of documents by Nebuchadnezzer describing his building activities, none mention his horticultural pursuits. Who else may have built the legendary gardens?

Imagine a gardener and a tranquil picture probably comes to mind. When Biblical Archaeology Review readers think of the Assyrian king Sennacherib, tranquility is probably the last thing that comes to mind. Sennacherib rampaged through Judah, laying waste to Lachish (immortalized in his extensive reliefs on the siege—click here for seven seminal articles on the city) and besieging Jerusalem until he had King Hezekiah “locked up like a bird in a cage.”

Oxford scholar Stephanie M. Dalley presents a different side of Sennacherib in The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: An Elusive World Wonder, in which she presents Nineveh as the actual location of the Hanging Gardens. Dalley entertainingly presented the theory in a recent episode of the PBS series Secrets of the Dead entitled “The Lost Gardens of Babylon” (PBS has the entire episode online for free here).

Swinging Assyrians. A drawing by Layard's draughtsman of a bas-relief found at Nineveh shows Assyrians enjoying the Hanging Gardens by playing sports, boating and even enjoying what appears to be a swing-set.

Sennacherib’s construction of a new capital at Nineveh was a massive endeavor, and the city and its garden were supplied with a water management project unparalleled at the time. Sennacherib’s canal system, which was some 50 miles long and as wide as the Panama Canal in some sections, featured advanced sluice gates, aqueducts, millions of dressed stones and waterproof cement. His construction paid off as the city quickly flourished, and the site caught the eye of famed 19th-century archaeologist Austin Henry Layard. Much of the canal system has been buried under recent construction, so archaeologists are using Cold War-era Corona spy satellites to identify the canals and other landscape patterns before the construction (click here to view Nineveh in the late 1960s and early 70s via the University of Arkansas’ new Corona Atlas of the Middle East). The PBS episode features conversations with Harvard University’s Jason Ur, a pioneer in the adaptation of Corona photography for archaeological purposes.

Assyrian records support the idea that the Hanging Gardens were actually built at Nineveh. The British Museum’s Garden Relief (see the image at the top of this article) from Nineveh shows trees hanging in the air on terraces and plants suspended on stone arches that resemble stones uncovered by archaeologists along from Sennacherib’s waterways. A bas-relief from Sennacherib’s palace, copied in a drawing by Layard’s draughtsman, shows sporting events at the garden (including an Assyrian swinging on a swing). The garden includes a roofed pillared walkway with the roots of trees growing out of the roofing. Sennacherib himself compares his hanging terraced garden to mountain growth:

I planted a great park beside the palace, like that of the Amanus Mountain, with all
kinds of herbs and fruit trees which came from the mountains and from Babylonia.

But how did the water reach these high terraces? Canal building was a feat of labor, but Sennacherib needed an equal feat of engineering to raise the water. I imagine that when Dalley noticed that Sennacherib’s language describing a date palm tree–which features screw-like bark patterning–matches the shape of an an Archimedes screw, she must have had a ‘eureka!’ moment to match that of the Greek mathematician himself. This water-raising screw is traditionally attributed to Archimedes, who lived hundreds of years after Sennacherib, but it has long been assumed that the invention was older than its eponymous “inventor.” A clip from the PBS series shows how the Archimedes screw would have been used to carry a steady supply of water against gravity.

Archimedes' Screw and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

This is just a brief clip from the Secrets of the Dead’s “The Lost Gardens of Babylon,” which is available for free online. The program explores Assyrian texts and art, ancient water systems, satellite photography and even sends an Iraqi film crew to explore the site itself, located in a turbulent region of the war-torn country.


Related Content in the BAS Library

Mordechai Cogan, “Sennacherib’s Siege of Jerusalem: Once or Twice?” Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2001.

Deborah A. Thomas, “Uncovering Nineveh,” Archaeology Odyssey, September/October 2004.

David Ussishkin, “Answers at Lachish,” Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1979.

From Babylon to Baghdad: Ancient Iraq and the Modern West examines the relationship between ancient Iraq and the origins of modern Western society. This free eBook details the ways in which ancient Near Eastern civilizations have impressed themselves on Western culture.

PBS series link - click here
(posted May 6, 2014)

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
by BBC

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one of the wonders that may have been purely legendary. They were purportedly built in the ancient city-state of Babylon, near present-day Al Hillah, Babil province, in Iraq. The Hanging Gardens were not the only World Wonder in Babylon; the city walls and obelisk attributed to Queen Semiramis were also featured in ancient lists of Wonders.[1]

The gardens were attributed to the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, who ruled between 605 and 562 BC. He is reported to have constructed the gardens to please his homesick wife Amytis of Media, who longed for the plants of her homeland.[2] The gardens were said to have been destroyed by several earthquakes after the 2nd century BC.[citation needed] The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are documented by ancient Greek and Roman writers, including Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, and Quintus Curtius Rufus. However, no cuneiform texts describing the Hanging Gardens are extant, and no definitive archaeological evidence concerning their whereabouts has been found.[3][4]

Ancient writers describe the possible use of an Archimedes screw-like process to irrigate the terraced gardens.[5] Estimates based on descriptions of the gardens in ancient sources say the Hanging Gardens would have required a minimum amount of 8,200 gallons (37,000 litres) of water per day.[6] Nebuchadnezzar II is reported to have used massive slabs of stone, a technique not otherwise attested in Babylon, to prevent the water from eroding the ground.