Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World II: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

In gardens, beauty is a by-product.  The main business is sex and death. 

Sam Llewelyn

          With this story I return to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in Second Life (SL).   My last trip brought me to the Great Pyramid of Giza.  On this leg of my journey I go the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. 
For the late arrivals, my rationale for this series about the Wonders of the Ancient World is that I’ve been blogging about a variety of topics in Second Life (SL) lately.  Fashion, steampunk, sex, pirates, and friendship to name but a few.  (I’m nothing if not eclectic.)  However, I feel I’ve gotten away from my roots.  My original intention was to travel across the grid to see new places and meet new people.  I think I’m doing pretty well with the latter but the former maybe not so much. 
          So, I’ve decided to strike out and visit more places further afield inworld.  One group of places that I’ve always wanted to visit in Real Life (RL) and have been frustrated mostly by time and to a certain extent by distance is the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.   Given that only one of them still stands and that unfortunately seems to be surrounded by a swirl of political turmoil which looks like it won’t be ending any time soon, SL seems to be a pretty good bet to go looking for them.  (Significant Other also likes the idea of me not clocking up any more frequent flyer miles in RL.) This is the second in what will be a series of seven stories. 

          The ancient world has always had a certain fascination for me.  Maybe because I grew up in a country where we seem to have more people who are over one hundred years old than we have buildings and monuments has something to do with it. 

Working from Wikipedia’s list of the Seven Wonders, I was able to locate all seven within SL.  This was a good sign and I have my marching orders.  I’m going to visit all of them for my own sake and to bring the places and stories back to my readers. 
I arrive at the Hanging Gardens in the Babylon Empire Port inworld.  I’m in awe.  My last visit in SL to an Ancient Wonder had been, let’s say a tad disappointing, more like a poor Las Vegas copy than an impressive, ancient monument.  This is something altogether different.
What waits me is an a four tiered ziggurat which dominates an impressive recreation of ancient Babylon.  Pictures do not do any of these scenes justice.  They must be seen. 
Each level of the ziggurat recedes back from the one underneath it.  Trees, plants, and shrubs are placed on each level.  As I ascend from one level to the next, I see impressive views of the city and the sea coast.  (Yes, I know ancient Babylon was in the middle of a desert!  This is SL!  Creator’s license, whatever you want to call it.  Get over it!)
Attention to detail is evident everywhere.  Textures are varied and realistic.  Wall decorations are very reminiscent of those found in books and museums.  Bas-reliefs adorn the walls.  Besides being a work of art, the Gardens are an ideal place to come and meditate.
The scripters have done a superb job of recreating what the Hanging Gardens of Babylon could have looked like.  Since we don’t have much in the historical record and ruins have been scant.  (I hope I don’t ignite an academic firestorm here.) 
While I didn’t explore the surrounding city itself, my brief tour impressed me with both the quality and quantity of work done.  The city walls are marvelous and remind me of accounts I’d read previously. 
My last visit had left me worried about whether or not I was wasting my time with this series of stories.  This visit has reaffirmed my original enthusiasm for the project.  Like other ancient sites I’ve visited like Alexandria and Rome where there is considerable attention to period detail and the scale is large, Babylon and its Hanging Gardens impresses.  I hope that the next five Ancient Wonders meet or exceed these my expectations. 
As I wrote earlier, my travels across SL have brought me to many different places.  Admittedly, many of these journeys were random.  Now, I’m moving along on a journey with a purpose.  (Maybe I’m growing up?  Significant Other may have another opinion here.)  Searching for the famous sites from antiquity seems like a worthwhile thing to do. 
My reasons for this journey still stand.  First, how much of the ancient world can I find inworld?  Second, how well has the ancient world been reconstructed?  My travels to date have brought me in contact with many residents who are either building worlds in SL or are living their virtual lives there. 
One observation from my trips so far.  When I visited these sims, no one else was around.  Except for local sounds like birds or running water, there was total silence.  I’m beginning to think that in SL there are either monuments or communities.  The two don’t seem to mix.  Maybe I’m wrong but I’ll keep looking at this as I continue my journey.
The Great Pyramid and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are just the first stops on this journey and I have five more to go. Anyone who would still like to join me for part or all of it, please reach out to me and we’ll work out the calendars.  I’d be glad for the company! 
I’ve included links to several pictures of the Hanging Gardens that I took while there.  But check the site out for yourself.  Pictures, especially when I’m the photographer, are never as good as being there. 
As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 5 Gardens’ Bird Bath

Photo No. 10 Terrace View

Photo No. 11 Statues of Lions
Photo No. 12 Yet Another View of Babylon from Gardens

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon.