The ancient city of Babylon – in its time the largest city in the world – lies around 60 miles southwest of Baghdad, near the city of Hillah, in present-day Iraq. Perhaps known chiefly for its Hanging Gardens – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – Babylon is frequently mentioned in the Bible and many other ancient texts. In Porter’s time it was beginning to attract the interest of archaeologists, keen to discover what artefacts lay buried beneath the Mesopotamian sands. Porter himself joined in with excavations during his visit to Hillah in November 1818.
This watercolour shows the stark view over the remains of the city from a nearby hill. Flocks of birds are used as a key to denote features mentioned in the text by Porter.