Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders in Ancient History

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

A wonder is a feeling created by something strange and amazing. It is created when one sees or feels something rare and unexpected. They are reminders of the human capacity for disagreement, destruction and, possibly, embellishment.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, simply known as the Seven Wonders, is a list of remarkable constructions of classical antiquity.  Various authors wrote about these ancient wonders in their poems and guide books. The seven wonders won praise for their notable features, ranging from the superb of the tallest or largest of their types, to the artistry with which they were executed. Their architectural and artistic features were imitated throughout the Hellenistic world and beyond.

Significant numbers of adventurers travelled to the actual sites to personally witness the wonders. Legends circulated to further complement the superlatives of the wonders.

The listing of seven of the most marvelous architectural and artistic human achievements continued beyond the Ancient Greek times to the Roman Empire. The Middle Ages, the Renaissance and into the modern age.

The seven wonders of the ancient world is a list of very important buildings a great Greek historian called Herodotus wrote over two thousand years ago. There are seven because he only wrote about the greatest structures he knew. He did not know much about Asia and the Americas. Although there are several wonders in the world, there are seven which are recognized as being ancient.

The Great Pyramids of Egypt

pyramids of egypt
credit: history

Built during a time when Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilizations in the world. The pyramids provide a glimpse into the country’s rich and glorious past for 4000 years.

The pyramids, especially the Great Pyramids of Giza, are some of the most magnificent man-made structures in history. These pyramids were built from the beginning of the Old Kingdom to the close of the Ptolemaic period in the fourth century A.D. The peak of pyramid building began with the late third dynasty and continued until roughly the sixth (c. 2325 B.C.). Up till now, the Egyptian pyramids still retain much of their majesty.

The Great Pyramid is located at Giza on the west bank of the Nile River north of Cairo in Egypt It is the only wonder of the ancient world that has survived to the present day. It is part of a group of three pyramids–Khufu (Cheops),  Khafra (Chephren) and Menkaura (Mycerimus). These were built between 2700 B.C. and 2500 B.C. as royal tombs. The largest and most impressive is Khufu, known as “The Great Pyramid,”   which covers 13 acres and is believed to contain more than 2 million stone blocks that weigh from two to 30 tons each.

The bigger sizes of these pyramids symbolize the powers which were vested in the Pharaohs, the power and success of their country.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The hanging gardens of Babylon
credit: juan villar

They are also known as the hanging gardens of Semiramis. It was built by Nebuchadnezzar II in 200 BCE, to please his beloved wife Semiramis. The king allegedly built the towering gardens to ease his lover’s homesickness because of the natural beauty of her home in Media, the northwestern part of modern-day Iran.  It was said to have been built in the ancient city of Babylon, near present-day Hillah, Babil province, in Iraq. According to one legend, the Hanging Gardens were built alongside a grand palace known as The Marvel of Mankind.

The gardens were said to have been planted as high as 75 feet in the air on a huge square brick terrace that was laid out in steps like a theater. Modern scientists have deduced that for the gardens to survive they would have had to be irrigated using a system consisting of a pump, waterwheel and cisterns to carry water from the Euphrates many feet into the air.

It is still not clear whether the Hanging Gardens were an actual construction or a poetic creation. There is no proper documentation proof of its existence. To date, no archaeological evidence has been found in Babylon for the Hanging Gardens. It is possible that evidence exists beneath the Euphrates, which cannot be excavated safely at present.

The most detailed descriptions of the gardens come from Greek historians. There is no mention of them in ancient Babylonian records.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Statue of Zeus at Olympia
credit: britanica

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was a giant seated figure made by the Greek sculptor Phidias around 435 BC at the sanctuary of Olympia, Greece. It was about 12.4 m (41 ft) tall, placed in the Temple of Zeus.

The statue, completed by the classical sculptor Phidias around 432 B.C., sat on a jewel-encrusted wooden throne inside a temple overlooking the city.  Held a scepter in one hand and a small statue of the goddess of victory, Nike, in the other—both made from ivory and precious metals.  Zeus sat on a painted cedar wood throne ornamented with ebony, ivory, gold and precious stones. The statue of Zeus was commissioned by the Eleans, custodians of the Olympic Games, in the latter half of the fifth century BC for their newly constructed Temple of Zeus.

In 391 AD, the Christian Roman emperor Theodosius I banned participation in pagan cults and closed the temples. The temple was closed when the Olympics were banned as a pagan practice in A.D. 391, after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The sanctuary at Olympia fell into disuse. The circumstances of the statue’s eventual destruction are unknown. The 11th-century Byzantine historian Georgios Kedrenos records a tradition that it was carried off to Constantinople. There it was destroyed in the great fire of the Palace of Lausus, in 475 AD.

The statue was eventually destroyed, although historians debate whether it perished with the temple or was moved to Constantinople (now Istanbul) in Turkey and burned in a fire.

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in Turkey

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
credit: property turkey

The famous tomb at Halicarnassus, now the city of Bodrum, was built between 370 and 350 B.C. It was built for King Mausolus of Caria, in a region in the southwest of modern Turkey. Some historians say that the king’s grieving wife Artemisia II had the tomb constructed as a memorial to their love. Mausolus was a satrap, or governor, in the Persian Empire, and his fabled tomb is the source of the word “mausoleum.”

Because of its beauty and specialty, it became one of the seven ancient wonders. The tomb was erected on a hill overlooking the city. The whole structure sat in an enclosed courtyard. At the center of the courtyard was a stone platform on which the tomb sat. In the center of the platform, the marble tomb rose as a square tapering block to one-third of the Mausoleum’s 45 m (148 ft) height.  On each corner, stone warriors mounted on horseback guarded the tomb.

On the top of this section of the tomb there are thirty-six slim columns. There is a statue between each pair of columns. Pyramidal comprises one third the height of the roof. And behind the columns was a solid cella-like block that carried the weight of the tomb’s massive roof.

Mausolus started to plan the tomb before his death, as part of the building works in Halicarnassus, so that when he died, Artemisia continued the building project.

The structure was designed by the Greek architects Satyros and Pythius of Priene. The Mausoleum was approximately 45 m (148 ft) in height, and the four sides were adorned with sculptural reliefs, each created by one of four Greek sculptors: Leochares, Bryaxis, Scopas of Paros, and Timotheus

It is unknown exactly when and how the Mausoleum came to ruin: Eustathius, writing in the 12th century on his commentary of the Iliad, says “it was and is a wonder”. Because of this, Fergusson concluded that the building was ruined, probably by an earthquake, between this period and 1402, when the Knights of St John of Jerusalem arrived and recorded that it was in ruins.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Temple of Artemis
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The Temple of Artemis or Artemision is also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana.  It was located in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey)

There was actually more than one Temple of Artemis: A series of several altars and temples was destroyed and then restored on the same site.  The most fabulous of these structures were two marble temples built around 550 B.C. and 350 B.C., respectively. It was completely rebuilt twice, once after a devastating flood and three hundred years later after an act of arson, and in its final form was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. By 401 AD it had been ruined or destroyed.  Only foundations and fragments of the last temple remain at the site.

The original Temple of Artemis was designed by the Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes and decorated by some of the most celebrated artists of the ancient world. The building burned on July 21, 356 B.C. According to legend the same night that Alexander the Great was born. The Ephesians funded the last form of the temple.

The temple was largely destroyed by Ostrogoth in A.D. 262, and it was not until the 1860s that archeologists dug up the first of the ruins of the temple’s columns at the bottom of the Cayster River.

Colossus of Rhodes at Greece

Colossus of Rhodes
credit: greek reporter

The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek sun-god Helios. An enormous bronze sculpture of the sun god Helios is built by the Rhodians over 12 years in the third century B.C. The sculptor Chares designed the statue. With a height of 100 feet, it was the tallest sculpture of the ancient world. Around 280 B.C. it was completed and an earthquake toppled it after 60 years.  Hundreds of years later, Arabs invaded Rhodes and sold the remains of the statue as scrap metal.

It was once believed that the statue stood with one leg on each side of a harbor, but most scholars now agree that the statue’s legs were most likely built close together to support its immense weight.

No one rebuilt it. That is why archeologists do not know much about the exact location of the statue or what it looked like. It was erected to celebrate the unification of the island’s three city-states, which successfully resisted a long siege by the Antigonids of Macedonia.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt

Lighthouse of Alexendria
credit: muslim heritage

The Lighthouse of Alexandria was located on a small island called Pharos near the city of Alexandria.  It is sometimes called the Pharos of Alexandria was a lighthouse built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom in 280–247 BC. The height of the lighthouse has ranged from 200 to 600 feet. Most modern scholars believe it was about 380 feet tall. For many centuries, it was one of the tallest man-made structures in the world.

Between 956 AD and 1323 several earthquakes damaged the lighthouse, leaving it an abandoned ruin. It was the third-longest surviving ancient wonder (after the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the extant Great Pyramid of Giza), surviving in part until 1480, when the last of its remnant stones were used to build the Citadel of Qaitbay on the site.

In 1994, a team of French archaeologists dove into the water of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour and discovered some remains of the lighthouse on the sea floor. In 2016 the Ministry of State of Antiquities in Egypt had plans to turn the submerged ruins of ancient Alexandria, including those of the Pharos, into an underwater museum

Conclusion

Fire destroyed The Temple of Artemis and the Statue of Zeus, while earthquakes destroyed the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Colossus, and tomb of Mausolus. Among the surviving artifacts are sculptures from the tomb of Mausolus and the Temple of Artemis, currently kept in the British Museum in London.

Today only one of the original wonders still exists which is the great pyramids. They also serve as tourist destination. Many people all over the world come to Egypt in large numbers just to see this great wonder.

These wonders are cultural heritage for the people of modern day world. They spotlight the ancient history. Lastly we need them to find out their significance and importance in the modern world. Ancient seven wonders should differentiate with modern day wonders in order the reveal the reason for their ancientness. 

These legacies should not left behind in the past. These “Seven Wonders” presents a hidden story behind or within their ruins, or in one case, within its remains.

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