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Iraq Offers Prize for Solving Puzzle of Hanging Gardens

September 08, 1989|From Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq — President Saddam Hussein has offered $1.5 million to any Iraqi who can solve a 3,000-year-old puzzle--how King Nebuchadnezzar managed to water the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Archeologists are divided over whether the gardens--said to have graced terraces hundreds of feet above the palm-fringed Euphrates River--existed.

The gardens reputedly were built by Nebuchadnezzar in the 6th Century BC to enchant his homesick queen, the Median princess Amytis. Although the ancient Greeks considered the gardens one of the seven wonders of the world, Nebuchadnezzar made no mention of them in his detailed writings, and no conclusive evidence they existed has been uncovered.

But the Iraqi government, which is rebuilding the city where Nebuchadnezzar ruled ancient Mesopotamia from 605 BC to 562 BC, believes they did exist, based on findings by German archeologists who first excavated Babylon more than 75 years ago.

Hussein announced a prize of $1.5 million for whoever comes up with the most plausible watering system and $750,000 to the runner-up. The winning system likely will be used if the Iraqis decide to go ahead and reconstruct the hanging gardens.

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