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Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World

Updated on October 22, 2011
The Pyramid at Giza
The Pyramid at Giza

Although most people know that a list exists of the Seven World Wonders, only few can name them. The list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was originally compiled around the second century BC. The final list of the Seven Wonders was compiled during the Middle Ages comprising the seven most impressive monuments of the Ancient World, some of which barely survived to the Middle Ages.

For their builders, the Seven Wonders were a celebration of religion, mythology, art, power, and science. For us, they reflect the ability of humans to change the surrounding landscape by building massive yet beautiful structures, which stood the test of time to this very day.

The Pyramids

An Arab proverb astutely says, "Man fears Time, yet Time fears the Pyramids" The oldest, yet the only surviving of the Seven Ancient Wonders is the Great Pyramid of Giza, which today is part of Greater Cairo, Egypt. Contrary to the common belief, only the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), not all three Great Pyramids, is on top of the list of Wonders.

The monument was built by the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty around the year 2560 BC to serve as a tomb when he dies and is believed to have been built over a 20-year period. When it was built, the Great Pyramid was 145.75 metres high. Over the years, it lost 10 metres off its top. It ranked as the tallest structure on Earth for more than 43 centuries, only to be surpassed in height in the nineteenth century AD.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Hanging gardens of Babylon

Shocking but true, it is said that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon might have never existed except in the minds of Greek poets and historians! Said to be located on the east bank of the River Euphrates, about 50 km south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC) is credited for building the legendary Hanging Gardens. It is said that the Gardens were built by Nebuchadnezzar to please his wife who had been "brought up in Media and had a passion for mountain surroundings".

Astonishingly, tablets from the time of Nebuchadnezzar do not have a single reference to the Hanging Gardens, although descriptions of his palace, the city of Babylon, and the walls are found. Even the historians who give detailed descriptions of the Hanging Gardens never saw them. It wasn't until the twentieth century that some of the mysteries surrounding the Hanging Gardens were revealed. Archaeologists are still struggling to gather enough evidence before reaching the final conclusions about the location, the irrigation system, and the true appearance of the gardens.

Statue of Zeus
Statue of Zeus

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

This is the statue of the god in whose honour the Ancient Olympic games were held. It was located on the land that gave its very name to the Olympics. At the time of the Games, wars stopped, and athletes came from Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and Sicily to celebrate the Olympics and to worship their king of gods: Zeus. The statue is located at the ancient town of Olympia, on the west coast of modern Greece, about 150 km west of Athens.

The magnificent temple of Zeus was designed by the architect Libon and was built around 450BC with one striking feature: a majestic statue. When the statue was completed, it barely fitted in the temple. It is this size impression that made the statue so wonderful. It is the idea that the king of gods is capable of unroofing the temple if he stood up that fascinated poets and historians alike. A victim to earthquakes, landslides and floods and fires, today nothing remains at the site of the old temple except rocks and debris, the foundation of the buildings, and fallen columns.

Temple of Artemis
Temple of Artemis

The Temple of Artemis

Considered as ‘the most beautiful structure on earth', it was built in honour of the Greek goddess of hunting, wild nature, and fertility. That was the Temple of Artemis situated at the ancient city of Ephesus, in Turkey.

Although the foundation of the temple dates back to the seventh century BC, the structure that earned a spot in the list of Wonders was built around 550BC. Referred to as the great marble temple, or temple D, it was sponsored by the Lydian king Croesus.

On the night of July 21, 356BC, a man named Herostratus burned the temple to ground in an attempt to immortalize his name, which he did indeed. Oddly enough, Alexander the Great was born the same night. The historian Plutarch later wrote that the goddess was "too busy taking care of the birth of Alexander to send help to her threatened temple".

When Alexander the Great conquered Asia Minor, he offered to rebuild the destroyed temple, but the Temple was not restored until after his death in 323BC. In the late nineteenth century the site was excavated.

Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

Similar to the Great Pyramid, it is the burial place of an ancient king. Yet the Mausoleum is sheer beauty - and thus has earned its spot within the list of wonders. It is set in the city of Bodrum (f.k.a. Halicarnassus) in Turkey. From 377 to 353BC, king Mausollos of Caria reigned and moved his capital to Halicarnassus. Nothing is exciting about Maussollos' life except the construction of his tomb. The project was conceived by his wife and sister. For centuries, the Mausoleum remained in good condition until earthquakes and invasions led to almost every block of the Mausoleum had been disassembled and used for construction.

Today, a massive castle stands in Bodrum, in which the polished stone and marble blocks of the Mausoleum can be spotted within the walls of the structure. Some of the sculptures survived and are today on display at the British Museum in London.

The beauty of the Mausoleum was not only in the structure itself, but in the decorations and statues that adorned it. Because the statues were of people and animals, the Mausoleum holds a special place in history as it was not dedicated to the gods of Ancient Greece.

The Colossus of Rhodes
The Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes

From its building to its destruction lies a time span of merely 56 years. Yet the colossus earned a place in the famous list of Wonders. The Colossus of Rhodes was not only a gigantic statue of the sun god Helios, located at the entrance of the island of Rhodes. It was rather a symbol of unity of the people who inhabited that beautiful Mediterranean island.

The construction of the Colossus took 12 years and was finished in 282BC. For years, the statue stood at the harbour entrance, until a strong earthquake hit Rhodes about 226BC. The city was badly damaged, and the Colossus was broken at its weakest point - the knee. But even lying on the ground, it was said to be a marvel. Although it disappeared from existence, the ancient World Wonder inspired modern artists such as French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi best known for his famous work: The Statue of Liberty.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Lighthouse of Alexandria

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only one had a practical use in addition to its architectural elegance: The Lighthouse of Alexandria situated on the ancient island of Pharos, now in the city of Alexandria, Egypt. For sailors, it ensured a safe return to the Great Harbour. For architects, it meant even more: it was the tallest building on Earth. And for scientists, it was the mysterious mirror that fascinated them most... The mirror whose reflection could be seen more than 50km off-shore.

Shortly after the death of Alexander the Great, his commander Ptolemy Soter assumed power in Egypt. He had witnessed the founding of Alexandria, and established his capital there. Off of the city's coast lies a small island - Pharos - and because of dangerous sailing conditions and flat coastline in the region, the construction of a lighthouse was necessary.

The monument has been used as a model for many prototypes along the Mediterranean, as far away as Spain and has given its name - Pharos - to all the lighthouses in the world. ... Just look up the dictionary for the French, Italian, or Spanish word for lighthouse. Of the six vanished Wonders, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was the last to disappear.

Six out of seven Ancient Wonders did not survive to the present day. Human imagination urged poets, writers, and historians to seek "replacements" for the fallen monuments. Some proposed a new list for the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Others argued that Ancient civilizations which the Greeks did not know of, erected monuments that should have been included in the original list. Wonders such as the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal in Agra, and the Temple of Angkor in Cambodia are a few examples.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      nice article

    • profile image

      BDB 8.5 

      7 years ago

      thanks man your the best dude

    • profile image

      Veer 

      8 years ago

      thanks dude all this is cool

    • profile image

      manasvi  

      8 years ago

      thanks hassam u helped me a lot i had to do project on this & i thpught it would bee incomplete but u completed my project

    • profile image

      Aimee 

      8 years ago

      Thanks hassam,it is a very interesting story. Thanks telling me know what i didn't know.You helped me a lot.

      And that is a special thing.

    • profile image

      Rose 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for this, this was a nice succint overview of the Wonders. You actually gave some leads which Ima follow up now...

    • profile image

      Laurette 

      8 years ago

      Thanks Hassam, very informative

    • profile image

      jack 

      9 years ago

      thanks dude great help with my classics homework

    • hassam profile imageAUTHOR

      hassam 

      9 years ago from Pakistan

      My pleasure

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 

      9 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Thanks Hassam - this is a great reference hub, and nicely put together. And no, I couldn't have named all seven, probably only four in fact, before you reminded me.

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