How many individuals can name the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? These ancien, man made monuments were compiled into a list considerable in their enormous size or
some other unusual quality (Donovan 325). We should not let these legacies be left
behind in the past, because each of these Seven Wonders has a story hidden within
their ruins, or in one case, within its remains. Picture these architectural structures
as I uncover the legends of The Statue of Zeus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Pyramids
of Egypt, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and the
Temple of Artemis.
The first full modern version of the list appeared less than four centuries ago in
Italy in 1608 (Romer IX). After that the lists varied, sometimes naming ten wonders,
but always keeping the honored name of The Seven Wonders of the World (IX). The
listing of these wonders initiated by Greeks and Romans listed memorable things that
they thought travelers should see (Donovan 325). The origianl authorship of the list
is not completely proven, but it is believed to be composed by Bede and Philo (Romer
X). Philo’s list is the most impressive, because of it’s uncomparable text, in length,
poetry, and information given (Romer X). At one time, classical writers argued over
the true list, but today there is one most commonly used (Virtual Tours 1). Few drawings
or sketches exist of the vanished monuments, so archeologists have relied on ancient
tales and literary works to get an idea of appearance and history (2).Every one of the seven wonders is connected to the legendary King Alexander (Romer
XII). He founded Egyptian Alexandria, the city of Pharos; he stormed Halicarnassus,
the city of the Mausoleum; the Rhodian of Colossus was cast in his image; he died
in Babylon, the city of the Hanging Gardens, and all of them stood within his shortlived
Empire (Romer XII). Apart from the Statue of Zeus in the west and the Hanging Gardens
in the east, they all lay in the center of the Greek Empire (McLeish 4).
In the Fourth Dynasty, built 4600 years ago, the Giza Pyramids came known as the greatest of the Seven Wonders (Grigson 18). These pyramids are the largest of the 70-odd pyramids
built (18). The largest of the three Giza Pyramids is the Pyramid of Cheops (18).
Its base is 57,000 square feet and has 2,300,000 limestone blocks each weighing two
and one-half tons (18). It is made up of a King’s Chamber, Queen’s Chamber, grand
gallery, vents, ascending and descending passages, and a Greaves Shaft (Krystek 4).
Cheop’s Pyramid is surrounded by rows of low flat tombs, mastabas, and three small
pyramids in which his family and other high officials were buried (Grigson 20). The
second pyramid is called the Pyramid of Chephren and the third if the pyramid of Mycerinus
(20). These pyramids all have an astonishing accuracy in their construction (18).
There is only about eight inches difference between the longest and the shortest baseline
and teh four corners make an almost perfect right angle (18). It is believed that
the Eyqyptians worked by observing teh stars because all the sides are aligned to
face the cardinal points of the compass (18). Richard Procter, and astronomer, observed
hat the descending passage could have b een used to observe transit stars and he grand
gallery could have been used to map the sky when on the top (Krystek 3). The pyramid
is probably connected with Egyptain sun worship and a pyramid stone, the benben, symbolizes
the sun god ( Grigson 20). When the sun’s rays breaks through at exactly the angle
of teh Giza Pyramids, the Egyptians regarded that as a stairway to heaven for their
kings (20). They believed the body was the spirit’s house and so they want to perserve
the body as long as they can (Mc Leish 5). Priests began by removing all the soft
parts of the body, such as the brain, lungs, heart, liver, and intestines (5). A great
archeologist, Sir Flanders Petrie, estimated that it took 100,000 men to haul stones
and another 4,000 to work on the actual construction (Grigson 20). They used no pulleys,
but must have used an incline plane to raise the blocks (20). How the inside of teh
pyramid is built is unknown (20). The center of the pyramid is the home of Cheop’s
burial chamber (20). Before and after the construction of the Pyramids, Egyptians
interned their dead Pharohs and Kings to intricate tombs (Krystek 2). They believed
that the body has two separate existances, so all the dead leaders were placed in
the tomb along with many treasures the Egyptians believed they would need in the afterlife
(2). This is why the Pyramids were such a hot spot for thieves. Egyptian architects
tried designing passageways that could be plugged with immoveable granite rocks, hidden
rooms, and decoy chambers, but nothing worked (2). There is almost no exception that
each tomb of the Egyptian Kings was plundered (2).
The next wonder is the Olympian Zeus. Greeks were very attatched to their gods, perhaps because even though the gods were immortal and had superhuman powers, in every other way they were like mortal men (Grigson 22). They had feelings, jealousy and rivalries (22). The mightiest of the Greek’s gods was Zeus (22). Zeus was the son of the titans Cranos and Rhea (22). He was regarded as the king and father of gods and men (22). Zeus was married to his sister, Hero, but he had many affairs with other goddesses and mortal woman despite her (22). The Olympic games were held in honor of Zeus since 776 B.C. at the Plain of Olympia at Pelopomesus (22). At his altar, 100 cattle were sacrificed as the main part of the festival (Mcleish 19). So, the the greeks decided to build a temple in his honor in the fifth century B.C. (Grigson 22). One of the best Greek sculptors, Phedias, was asked to do it (22). It was built in about 457 B.C and the finished Zeux was a gold and ivory work with the flesh parts carved from ivory and mounted on a wood or stone core (22). The draperies and other ornaments were cast from gold (22). This lavish 40 foot statue had a wreath around his head, holds a figuire of his messenger, Nike, in his right hand, and a sceptor in his left (Ashmawy 1) Zeus was believed to have long hair, a bush beard, and a moustach with long ends (Grigson). Eventually, weathly Greeks moved the statue to a palace in Constantinople, today known as Istanbul, Turkey (Ashmawy 1). Their effort prolonged its life because a fire devastated the Olympia Temple (1). Roamans adopted Zeus and one of the emporers wanted to take the statue to Rome, remove Zeus’ head, and replace it with a statue of his own (1). When they went to get it, they wre driven out of the temple by peals of laughter (1). Later a sever fire also destroyed the statue in 462 A.D. (1).
One of the most beautiful sights of the ancient world was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (Grigson 16). They came to be when Babylon, one the world’s great empires, was defeated by the rival empire Assyria (15). In 626 B.C., and alliance defeated Assyria and the Chaldean ruler of Nabopolassar made himself king of Babylon (15). With the new king, Babylon exceeded to its old glory as Nabopolassar built mighty walls around the city (15). According to the legen, Nabuchadnezzar continued Nabopolassar’s work of building fortresses and walls (15). His queen was a princess of his father’s allies, and she missed the hills of her Persian homeland and disliked the flatness of Babylon (15). To please her, Nabuchadnezzar built a man-made hill in the form of terrace gardens (15). The Hanging Gardens rose 328 feet and were surrounded by a reinforcing wall 23 feet thick (15). Workman built terraces in long straight rows and marble staircases supported by rows of arches connected them (15). They lined the terraces with lead in order to keep water in and covered them with earth from fields, which created a half dozen huge flowerbeds the size of tennis courts (15). These flowerbeds held exotic trees, shrubs, flowers, and creepers lay along the terrace (15). On top of the terrace was fountains, waterfalls, and streams which had the water raised by pumps from the Euphrates River worked by slaves (15). Twenty -two years after Nebuchadnezzar’s death, the empire of Babylon was lost to the Persian Emporer Cyprus the Great, and today all that remains is on or two arches and a well (16).
In 312 B.C. Rhodes joined King Ptolemy of Egypt in his war against Antigonous of Macedona (Grigson 14). Later the Macedonians returned for revenge on the Rhodes and besiged the city with a fast force of men and ships (14). The Rhodians managed to hold them back for a year until Ptolemy of Egypt finally cam to the rescui (14). Among the defenders of Rhodes, was a sculptor, Chares of Lindus (14). To praise him, the Rhodians commissioned him to create a huge bronze statue in honor of the island’s patron, the sun god Helios or Apollo (14). The statue celabrated the unity of the Rhode’s three-city states (Ashmawy 1). The task to Chares took twelve years, from 292 B.C. to 280 B.C. (Grigson 14). It was 105 feet high, 295 tons, and cast entirely from metal taken from the war engines abandoned by the Macedonians (14). The Colossus of Rhodes is hallow inside supported by interior stone and iron blocks (Ashmawy 1). The statue stood on a promontory overlooking the water and on some accounts, ships sailed between its legs, for it stood near the harbor of Rhodes, a Greek Island in the Aegean Sea (1). According to the story, when it was complete, Chares found a mistake in his calculations and killed himself (14. The Colossus was one of the greatest pieces of self-criticism and hailed as the most perfect representation of a human form (14). In 224 B.C., and earthquake rocked the island snapping the statue at its knees, toppling across a whole city block (McLeish 5). The Rhodians left it lying there for another 900 years (5). The Colossus of Rhodes was to be the most short-lived of the world’s wonders (Grigson 15). Later, when Arabs captured Rhodes, the statue’s remains were sold to a Jewish merchant for scrap (15).
Over 3300 years ago, a boulder landed on the town of Apashash, just south of Izmir, Turkey, killing the king (McLeish 9). The superstitious people believed it was the goddess, Mother Earth, who was punishing the king for his wickedness he had shown as ruler (9). This town prospered after the king’s death and the Greek visitors changed the name of the town to Ephesus and the goddess’s name to Artemis (9). Artemis was worshipped greatly in Ephesus and so around 550 BC they built her a temple that by all accounts was the finest in the world (Grigson 23). The Lydian king, Croesus, sponsored the temple and Chersiphron, a Greek architect, designed it (Ashmawy 1). It surpasses every structure raised by human hands (23). On the site cleared for the temple, 45,000 people could have stood (McLeish 10). The temple is rectangular in shape, made of marble, with a decorated faade overlooking a huge courtyard (Ashmawy 2). Marble steps lead up to a terrace that is 260 by 430 feet in size (2). One hundred twenty-seven columns, 60 feet high with Ionic capitals and carved circular sides, surround the platform of the temple (2). Every part of the temple was covered in paintings and carvings (McLeish 10). The four bronze statues of amazons inside were sculpted by the most skilled artists of their time: Pheidias, Polyclietus, Kresilas, and Phradma (Ashmawy 1). For many years people visited the temple to share their profits with the goddess (1). Many people, such as kings and priests, deposited their wealth there and the temple was noted as a common treasury for all Asia (Grigson 24). Archeologists have found bracelets, earrings, and statuettes left from as far as Persia and India (Ashmawy 1). In an attempt to immortalize himself, Herostratus burnt down the temple in 365 BC (Grigson 23). The new temple, labeled temple E, was rebuilt in 323 BC and one of the greatest admirers was Alexander the Great, who by coincidence was born on the night of the old temples destruction (23). In 262 AD the Goths destroyed the temple E (Ashmawy 1). The Ephesians vowed to rebuild it, but by the fourteenth century they had mostly been converted to Christianity (1). In 401 AD, the Temple of Artemis was completely torn down by St. John Chrysostom, and Ephesus was later deserted (1).
In the city of Bodrum on the Aegean Sea, in southwest Turkey was the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (Ashmawy 1). From 377 to 353 BC, the king Mausollos of Caria reigned, and he moved his capital to Halicarnassus to be closer to the Persian capital which had recently expanded its kingdom (1). Nothing is interesting about this king, Mausollos, except for his tomb (1). Artemisia, his wife and sister, conceived the project during his life time (1). The Mausoleum, named after the king, was finished around 350 BC, three years after Mausollos’ death and one year after Artemesia’s (1). This building gave its name to all large tombs today (1). The Mausoleum is rectangular and 140 by 100 feet in size (2). There was a stepped podium, which was 60 feet, a 38-foot colonnade, a 22-foot pyramid, and a 20-foot chariot statue (2). The sides are completely decorated with tens of life size, under, and over life size statues of people, lions, horses, and other animals (2). These works were carved by Bryaxis, Leochares, Scopas, and Timotheus (2). Each sculptor was responsible for one side (2). The burial chamber and sarcophagus of white alabaster is decorated with gold and located on the podium, surrounded by Ionic columns (2). The colonnade supported the pyramid roof, which was decorated with statues as well (2). A statue of a chariot pulled by four horses was on top of the tomb (2). The tomb survived sixteen centuries until an earthquake damaged the roof of the colonnade (1). In 1489,the Christians who had made Halicarnassus a stronghold against the Turks, took the stones of the base to build castle walls and broke the sculptures to use as mortar (McLeish 24). The knights of St. John of Malta supposedly found gold stolen by pirates in the tomb chamber, but only a few gold ornaments survive today (24). By 1522 almost every block had been disassembled from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (Ashmawy 1).
In 331 BC Alexander the Great captured Egypt and he planned to leave there in triumph on ship by one of the mouths of the river Nile (McLeish 29). All the Delta channels were too shallow, so he decided to build a new city with deep water harbors ideal for war-galleys and trading ships (29). On this harbor of Alexandria, a lighthouse, otherwise called Pharos, was built (Ashmawy 1). Upon its completion in about 270 BC, it was estimated to be about 400 feet high (1). The Greek architect Sostratos designed the lighthouse, one of the tallest structures on Earth in its time, during the reign of the King Ptolemy II (1). From an Arab traveler’s notes from 1166, archeologists have deduced that the lighthouse was built in three sections (1). The bottom section was square, the middle eight sided, and the top circular (Donovan 325). At the top, a mirror reflected sunlight during the day, and a fire guided soldiers at night (Ashmawy 1). The structure became so famous that pharos came to mean lighthouse in French, Italian, and Spanish (1). In November 1996, a team of divers claimed to find the ruins of the lighthouse in the Mediterranean Sea (2).