The Seven Ancient World Wonders
Travel Back In Time
Today there are many wonders in the world, but for a long time, ancient actually, there were just seven. Seven well-known, amazing man-made world wonders. Hellenic sightseers, which refers to the ancient Greece time-period called the Hellenistic civilization roughly around 323 BC to 146 BC, were the ones that recorded these sights. The period occurred after the classical Greek period. They are only the works that consisted of places located around the Mediterranean rim. Nonetheless, these are truly significant mystical wonders of the world that people still talk about today.
The Great Pyramid At Giza
This is the only ancient wonder still in almost perfect existence today, as well as the oldest. It has stumped researchers for nearly thousands of years. It is located on the border of what is now El Giza, Egypt, and the largest of the three pyramids there. It has been believed by Egyptologists that over approximately a 20 year period, the pyramid was officially built for the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu somewhere around 2560 BC. What seems to stump these scientists is that the building and work that went in to this pyramid was way beyond their times. It took a great deal of logic and construction for this pyramid to stay standing.
The Great Pyramid is made up of approximately 2.3 million limestone rocks, that is believed to have been transported from nearby quarries, and consists of large granite stones found in the "Kings" chamber. In conclusion, that is an estimate 5.5 million tons of limestone and 8,000 tons of granite. Quite an accomplishment, wouldn't you say? How could the people of Egypt create such a monstrosity that is sturdy enough to still be standing today?
There are many theories on this subject. Of course, it is difficult to say that the blocks had been dragged, lifted, or rolled because that is nearly impossible. The Greeks seemed to believe that slave labourers were used, but it is now believed after much research and modern discovery that the pyramid was built by thousands and thousand of highly skilled workers. The other main and probably biggest mystery of The Great Pyramid was the planning of its construction. It has been said that whoever architect-ed the structure has precision unmatched by any other. You go Egyptians!
The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon
In the ancient city of Babylon, which is near present-day Babil, Iraq, is where the Hanging Gardens of Babylon supposedly were grown. These gardens were said to be built by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife who was homesick for the trees and plants of her homeland in Media. In the 2nd century BC, the gardens were tragically destroyed by several earthquakes. So how do we know about these ancient wonder gardens?
They are extensively documented by Greek historians, though it is said that throughout time the gardens could have been confused with the alike that existed in Nineveh, but we will get to that theory in a minute. The walls of the city of Babylon claimed to have been 56 miles long, 80 feet thick, and 320 feet high. Inside their was supposedly fortresses, and temples, and gold, oh my! And rising above this splendid city was the Tower of Babel, a famous temple to the god Marduk. According to the Greek geographer Strabo, he recorded the gardens of having vaulted terraces raised one above the other resting on cube pillars. The pillars were hollow and filled with dirt for large trees to be planted. To get to the top was by stairs and on the side were water engines to raise water from the Euphrates River into the garden.
The mystery to this wonder is again the lack of modern technology but yet the intelligent management of the gardens. You see, Babylon was a city that had barely any rainfall, and of course for a garden to survive it needs plenty of water, obviously irrigated by the Euphrates. In order for water to reach each level to be able to water efficiently, it would need some sort of pump. In times of BC, these technologies did not exist, so how was it that these gardens could have possibly existed? Scientists today are still trying to gather enough evidence to be able to conclude that the Gardens of Babylon truly existed. What is very interesting is that in 1899, German archaeologist Robert Koldewey dug up parts of the current Babel site for about fourteen odd years. He was able to unearth many of the recalled features of Babylon including outer walls, inner walls, foundations, and Nebuchadnezzar's palaces. Among his discoveries was a basement with fourteen large rooms with stone arch ceilings. According to ancient records, there were only two locations with those features- the north wall of the Northern Citadel, and the Hanging Gardens. But guess what? The north wall of the Northern Citadel had already been found! While digging further, he also found holes in the ground that would be quite similar to chain pumps used to raise water. Hmmmmm...interesting. So did these gardens in fact exist? We do not know, but let's hope that his wife was as excited about the gardens as we are to find them!
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
In the ancient Greek city of Olympia, about 450 B.C., lived a temple built to honor their god, Zeus. The Doric Style temple held this 40 foot extravagant statue, sculpted by the Athenian sculptor Phidias. He created the ivory Zeus seated on his throne, while draped in a lavish, gold robe. It was also around that same time that the Olympic Games were started and held every four years also to honor Zeus.
The intricate statue was not always a part of the temple, though. Overtime, it was decided that the temple was just too simple for their King, therefore the statue was then added. So how did this magnificent statue built as an honor become part of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? Well, it had taken Phidias twelve years to complete the statue and ended with it being 22 feet wide and 40 feet tall, with it's head nearly grazing the roof of the temple. That is quite an accomplishment for one single person. Many concluded that size of the statue was meant to show the god's size and power. It was the skill of the craftsmanship that was certainly incredible and impressive.
As to the fate of this masterpiece, it is said that the temples were ordered to be destructed, so the statue was moved to the city of Constantinople. The tragic news is a fire engulfed that city in 475 AD destroying everything, including the historic Statue of Zeus.
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes constructed this intricate temple in the Greek city of Ephesus. Ephesus is now modern day Turkey on the east coast and it was built as a dedication to a Greece goddess. Due to devastation by fire and floods, the temple was built and reconstructed three times before being burnt yet again. The foundations and ruins are still standing. No one is quite sure when the first temple was built exactly, but modern archaeologists can prove the three reconstructions. When built by Chersiphron, it was made completely of marble and it was 377' long while 180' wide. The columns stood 40 feet high and some of them were decorated with carvings. Sounds marvelous.
On July 21st of 356 BC, the temple was destroyed by a fire believed to be arson by a man seeking fame of destroying the most beautiful building on earth. It was a complete devastation to the people and they eventually sentenced him to death. The next reconstruction was a larger temple built by many sculptors and survived another 600 years. It was then torched by the Goths and many of it's parts were used in constructing other buildings. In 1869, John Turtle Wood rediscovered the temple after 60 years of searching and excavations continued until 1874. Today the rediscovery of the what's left of the ruins is still there by dislocated fragments.
Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus
This ancient structure was the tomb of Mausolus, for the King and his wife Artemisia of the Persian empire, built between 353 and 350 BC. Built rectangular of around 120 feet by 100 feet, it sat perched on a hill overlooking the city. Made mostly out of marble, some features included a magnificent staircase with lions adorned on each side, statues of gods and goddesses, and stone warriors on horseback guarding the tomb on each corner. The tomb itself was covered with many sculptures depicting scenes of Greek history. It was designed by Greek architects Satyrus and Pythius and became such a phenomena that the word mausoleum is used now for generically any grand tomb today, but of course originally meant to honor Mausolus..
The tomb stood standing for many centuries and survived the attacks of pirates and the takeover of Alexander the Great in 334 BC. For 16 centuries, it still stood perched on the hill overlooking the city's ruins. Shortly after, a series of earthquakes then tragically shattered its columns causing the rest to come crashing to the ground. In the fifteenth century, the Knights of St John of Malta had invaded the very region and decided to build a gigantic castle. After fortifying it later, they used stones from the tombs ruins. In 1522, the threat of a Turkish invasion caused them to strengthen the castle, where they used the remaining parts of the Mansoleum. Today, you can still see the polished marble within the castle's walls. There are many depicting historical stories and myths as to what happened to the bodies of Mausol and Artemisia, from grave robbers, theft, to cremation. You can find some of the sculptures archaeologists found at the British Museum in London today.
The Colossus of Rhodes
This statue of the Greek Titan Helios was built in the city of Rhodes somewhere between 292 and 280 BC. It's construction was in celebration of Rhodes' victory over the ruler of Cyprus in 305 BC. The statue became the tallest of the ancient world with it standing over of 120 feet high and inspired our modern day Statue of Liberty. Made of melted down bronze of war machines, the construction took twelve years.
There are many depictions, however, of just how the statue actually appeared. We do know that it's pedestal stood near the harbor entrance, but unsure of whether the legs were spanning so that ships could flow through underneath, or if posed in a more traditional Greek manner. Some believe that the statue was nude, while others believe semi-nude with a cloak over the left shoulder. Others believe that a spiked crown adorned the head, and a hand holding a torch to the sky like a familiar statue of America now. Chares of Lindos was a Rhodian sculptor and the great architect of this amazing wonder. It is said that the statue held its massive place for fifty-six years before being destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC. In seventh century A.D., Arabs had conquered Rhodes and sold what was left of the statue as scrap metal. Such a tragic end to a mystical, massive art piece.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria
This tower was built between 280 and 247 BC in Egypt. The lighthouse served it's purpose as any other at guiding sailors to the harbor during the night. The height is what makes this ancient tower and ancient world wonder. Standing at about 450 feet, it was the tallest man-made structure on the Earth. The decision to build the lighthouse came after Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, and the new ruler Ptolemy Soter took over. There were many trade ships coming and going throughout the harbor, and so in 290 BC he authorized the structure of the lighthouse. It would be completed twenty years later, and the first lighthouse ever in the world as well as the tallest building besides the Great Pyramid.
The designer of the lighthouse was said to be Sostratus of Knidos, and it was built on the island of Pharos while soon after acquiring the name. The building was unlike modern day lighthouses however, and included stone-faced material and white marble blocks cemented together. There was a large spiral ramp for carts to draw materials up. The building itself was a combined three parts, one built on top of the other of a square, octagon, and cylinder. The famous lighthouse stood for centuries guiding travelers until an earthquake destroyed most of it and it fell to destruction in the Mediterranean Sea.
I have learned much about ancient history in my research of this subject, including that there was a lot of earthquakes in those times, geesh. I find it absolutely fascinating how these records have been recorded, kept, and found throughout time. The artifacts found make you want to keep searching for more. If these majestic places were truly all they say it was, I can only imagine what it was like to live in ancient times with these fantastic, sculpted buildings, towers, statues, and pyramids. I hope you enjoyed this history journey as much as I enjoyed researching it.
© 2011 Brianna W