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Herodotus and his WorldEssays from a Conference in Memory of George Forrest$
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Peter Derow and Robert Parker

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199253746

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253746.001.0001

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Why Did Herodotus not Mention the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?

Why Did Herodotus not Mention the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?

Chapter:
(p.171) 10 Why Did Herodotus not Mention the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?
Source:
Herodotus and his World
Author(s):

Stephanie Dalley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253746.003.0010

In 1883, early in the days of deciphering cuneiform inscriptions, Archibald Sayce published a commentary on Herodotus' History Books 1-3, entitled The Ancient Empires of the East. He quoted authorities of his own time who questioned the reliability of Herodotus. Ctesias was reckoned a more trustworthy informant who ‘had good reason for accusing Herodotus of errors in his Assyrian history’. After all, Ctesias lived at the Persian court, and so he was supposed to have drunk from more direct sources of knowledge about the ancient Near East than Herodotus could have done. One hundred and twenty years after Sayce published his work, Assyriologists are in a better position to comment on Babylonian and Assyrian matters, thanks to the perseverance and brilliance of several generations of scholars. This chapter does not attempt to verify Herodotus on every point; rather it looks at certain items of information in the light of recent solid progress in ancient Near Eastern studies. It aims to try and find out why certain details appear to be incorrect, and to show how over-eager corrections, made from a poor base of evidence, are occasionally wrong.

Keywords:   Assyriology, Archibald Sayce, Ctesias

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