BABYLON (Iraq): The Socialist Government of Iraq has been urged to re-plant the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to revive one of the seven wonders of the world and lure tourists to Iraq.
Baghdad newspapers have asked the Government to restore the fabled gardens to their ancient splendour. “By rebuilding the Hanging Gardens, the Government will encourage tourists to visit the site if Babylon and eat at the restaurant there,” said one editorial. Not a trace of the gardens of Babylon remains at the dusty archaeological site, 60 miles south of Baghdad. Of the city of Babylon itself, once glowing with a splendour unrivalled in the ancient world, only a few low brick walls, mounds of earth and the main gate have survived the centuries. And, of course, the Lion of Babylon.
The Lion is a stone figure erected near the site of the old temple of Babylon. Though much smaller than the Sphinx of Giza in Egypt, it has one thing in common with that enigmatic half-man half-lion — it has no nose. Egyptian history books say Napoleon lopped off the Sphinx’s nose with one of his cannons just to put Egyptians in their place. French comic books have it that the nose fell off when a rotund companion of the intrepid French warrior Asterix clambered up to have a closer look. No one knows how the Lion of Babylon lost the nose.
Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2021