Hands-on Ancient Babylon Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Known as one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were thought to have been a showpiece in the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire and built by King Nebuchadnezzar. But there is some debate among scholars if it really even existed or it was just a fable or who actually built it. While some historians believe that the gardens towered hundreds of feet in the air while others believe it was much smaller, there is also some debate on just exactly where the gardens were located.
It is said that the gardens were built to help Nebuchadnezzar’s wife Amytis get over her homesickness. She was from a region that was green and mountainous and very much unlike the flat land of Mesopotamia. Again, there is some disagreement here. Some believe that the queen Sammu-ramat who ruled after Nebuchadnezzar was responsible for the gardens instead.
They were built with layered platforms of stone and filled with trees, hanging plants, and flowers. The gardens are thought to have disappeared during an earthquake and we do not have any physical confirmed evidence of their existence but there are varied accounts of them throughout history and foundation vaults and chambers were located near the palace by archeologists that could support their location.
This is a great hands-on project for children from middle elementary up through high school and can be done while you read about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It can be made as simple or as elaborate a project as you wish.
To make your own Hanging Gardens of Babylon you will need the following items:
- A floral foam block
- Cream or tan craft paint
- Play sand
- Tools-wooden skewer, spoon, wooden craft sticks,etc..
- Small silk flowers, real flower cuttings, greenery
- Tacky craft glue
- Knife/cutting board
- Paint brush
I was able to pick up all of our items at our local Dollar Tree and some we had on hand with plenty of leftovers for another project. This makes it a really inexpensive way to get some hands-on learning.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon Hands-on History
Start by cutting floral foam block into 3 pieces of graduating size, so that your layers when stacked leave a ledge on each one. For little ones you can let them cut their own foam with a wooden craft stick or even a plastic knife (the foam is soft and easy to work with). Press a skewer down through the center to secure them together. We will trim it later.
It is very simple to add foam pieces together and make this project as large as you like. We stuck with a small tabletop version so that everyone could make their own to enjoy looking at.
Search for photos of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon online to use as a reference and leave it open as your child works. We looked up several sites to get a clear picture of what they are believed to have looked like. Use your tools to carve out windows, doors, columns, steps, etc. in the foam, this is a great medium for carving. Our preferred tool was a wooden skewer because it gives great detail.
Brush away any excess foam in your carving with a soft paint brush to give it clean sharp lines. If you use something too stiff it will wear away more of your foam. You could also blow it clean with canned air if you like.
Hands-on History: Ancient Civilizations
Mix cream or tan craft paint with a couple teaspoons of play sand. We are going to create a texture that is similar to bricks or stone on our tower. Paint your structure all over, be sure to get some inside your carved areas. Allow to dry for 2- 3 hours, or until completely dry to the touch.
Place on a plate or other flat surface in a small bed of play sand. Lift up your top most layer and snip off the skewer, leaving enough that the top piece remains secured.
Begin decorating by laying moss all over the levels, letting it hang down randomly and securing with glue as you go. Press the plastic end of small flowers, greenery, and even small pieces of aquarium plants into the foam to make your gardens lush and exotic looking. Secure your plants with glue if you feel like they need a little more anchoring.
Imagine the beauty that must have been there as they walked throughout the various levels, the exotic scents and sounds.
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We added a few blue pebbles at the bottom for water. This is an ideal time to talk about the watering system they were believed to have used on the gardens- a series of waterways to deliver water to the top that then cascaded downwards, very similar to Archimedes Screw.
You’ll love these other hands-on Ancient Civilizations fun activities:
- Hands-on History Activities for Learning about Ancient Civilizations
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- Hands-on Geography Mesopotamia: Fun Salt Dough Map
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