The Landscape Guide

The Garden of Eden

The location of the Garden of Eden is unknown. But there are many theories. The below passage from the Book of Genesis tells us that: (1) the Garden of Eden contained the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, (2) a river flowed through Eden and split into four rivers: the Tigris, Euphrates, Pison (or Pishon) and Gihon.

Though not specifically stated, it is assumed that the Garden of Eden was destroyed by The Flood, in which case the rivers now called the Tigris and Euphrates (in Iraq) would be new rivers in a new location. Most theorists place the Garden of Eden generally in the Middle East or specifically in Ancient Mesopotamia (see map location Garden of Eden). Other locations have also been proposed, including Ethiopia, Java, the Seychelles, and Florida. Many theologians believe the Garden of Eden did not have a physical existence on Earth: it was an adjunct to heaven and became identified with the concept of Paradise.

The word 'Eden', comes from the Hebrew Gan ‘Ä’den, which means 'delight'. The Hebrew word, in its turn, may derive from the Akkadian word edinu, and, before that, from the Sumerian term E.DIN, which means 'plain'. It was used by the Sumerians to refer to the 'valley of E'din', meaning the fertile lands between the Tigris and Euphrates, which the Greeks called Mesopotamia.

See references in Gothein's History of Garden Art and Turner's English Garden Design. And see notes on Persian Paradise Garden and Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

The Bible, Genesis Chapter 2, verses 7 to 17

7: And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8: And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9: And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10: And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
11: The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12: And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13: And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14: And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
15: And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16: And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.