Robert Johann Koldewey

Robert Johann Koldewey

German architect and archaeologist
Date of Birth: 10.09.1855
Country: Germany

  1. Robert Johann Koldewey: German Architect and Archaeologist
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  4. Archaeological Contributions
  5. Challenges and Legacy
  6. Later Years and Legacy

Robert Johann Koldewey: German Architect and Archaeologist

Robert Johann Koldewey was a renowned German architect and archaeologist, best known for his discovery of the remains of one of the world's oldest civilizations, Babylon, in present-day Iraq. He actively participated in excavations on the island of Lesbos and in Troy.

Early Life and Education

Born in Blankenburg, Germany, Koldewey completed his secondary education at a gymnasium in Braunschweig. In 1875, he and his family moved to Altona, where he successfully obtained the German abitur, a certificate of maturity.

Koldewey primarily studied archaeology on his own, although he briefly attended courses on architecture and art history in Berlin and Vienna. Despite not obtaining a formal diploma in both cases, he gained valuable practical experience. In 1882, Koldewey embarked on excavation work in Turkey, which further honed his skills.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Prior to Koldewey's discoveries, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were considered a beautiful legend. The legend revolved around King Nebuchadnezzar, who married Amyitis, the daughter of the Median king, for political reasons. Amyitis, being from Media, did not enjoy the desert-like and dusty environment of Babylon. To entertain his wife, Nebuchadnezzar built the Hanging Gardens, which was described as a massive mountain full of various plants and trees.

Archaeological Contributions

Koldewey made significant findings that undeniably belonged to Babylon. He excavated the external and internal fortification walls, the foundation of the ziggurat Etemenanki (presumed prototype of the biblical Tower of Babel), and a wide road leading to the heart of the city.

While excavating the Southern Citadel of the city, Koldewey stumbled upon an extensive basement area consisting of 14 large rooms with stone ceilings. Stone was not a popular building material in Babylon. Chronicles only mentioned its use in the northern wall of the Northern Citadel and the Hanging Gardens. As the Northern Citadel had already been excavated, Koldewey reasonably speculated that he had discovered the basement of the Gardens. Over time, the signs he found matched the description provided by the ancient Greek historian Diodorus Siculus.

Challenges and Legacy

Koldewey's theories faced opposition as some argued that the presumed Gardens were located too far from the river and could not have been supplied with sufficient water. However, later excavations in the same area uncovered clay tablets that resembled inventories, leading scientists to suggest that Koldewey had discovered ancient Babylonian warehouses.

In addition to the Gardens, Koldewey excavated the remains of the Marduk ziggurat and the Ishtar Gate in Babylon. He also made significant contributions to the development of archaeology as a discipline, devising techniques and methods to distinguish ancient clay structures from ordinary clay.

Later Years and Legacy

Koldewey passed away in Berlin. After his death, the Koldewey Society was established to continue his work and preserve his memory in the hearts of future generations.