Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (from left to right, top to bottom): Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum of Maussollos, Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria as depicted by 16th-century Dutch artist Marten Heemskerk

The Seven Wonders of the World (or the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) is a well known list of seven remarkable constructions of classical antiquity. It was based on guide-books popular among Hellenic (Greek) tourists and only includes works located around the Mediterranean rim. Later lists include those for the Medieval World and the Modern World. The number seven was chosen because the Greeks believed it to be magical.[1]


[edit] The Seven Ancient Wonders

The traditional list, though not the first or last, was made by Philo of Byzantium and written in 225 BC in his work "On the Seven Wonders". Earlier and later lists, written by the historian Herodotus (484 BC–ca. 425 BC), and the architect Callimachus of Cyrene (ca 305–240 BC) at the Museum of Alexandria, survive only as references. The later version of a list of seven wonders was compiled by Antipater of Sidon, who described the structures in a poem around 140 BC:

I have gazed on the walls of impregnable Babylon along which chariots may race, and on the Zeus by the banks of the Alpheus, I have seen the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Helios, the great man made mountains of the lofty pyramids, and the gigantic tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the sacred house of Artemis, that towers to the clouds, the others were placed in the shade, for the sun himself, has never looked upon its equal, outside Olympus'

Antipater, Greek Anthology IX.58

These are given in the table below:[1]

Wonder Date of construction Builder Notable features Date of destruction Cause of destruction
Great Pyramid of Giza 2584-2561 BC Egyptians Built as the tomb of fourth dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu. Still standing ---
Hanging Gardens of Babylon 605-562 BC Babylonians Diodorus Siculus described multi-levelled gardens reaching 22 metres (75 feet) high, complete with machinery for circulating water. Large trees grew on the roof. Built by Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife Amytis of Media. After 1st century BC Earthquake
Statue of Zeus at Olympia 466-456 BC (Temple) 435 BC (Statue) Greeks Occupied the whole width of the aisle of the temple that was built to house it, and was 12 meters (40 feet) tall. 5th-6th centuries AD Unknown, presumed destroyed by fire or earthquake.
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus c. 550 BC Lydians, Persians, Greeks Dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis, it took 120 years to build. Herostratus burned it down in an attempt to achieve lasting fame. Rebuilt by Alexander the Great only to be destroyed again by the Goths. It was rebuilt once again after, only to be closed in 391 and destroyed by a mob led by St John Chrysostom in 401. 356 BC (by Herostratus)
AD 262 (by the Goths)
AD 391 (by mob led by St John Chrysostom)
Arson, Plundering
Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus 351 BC Carians, Persians, Greeks Stood approximately 45 meters (135 feet) tall with each of the four sides adorned with sculptural reliefs. Origin of the word mausoleum, a tomb built for Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire by AD 1494 Damaged by an earthquake and eventually disassembled by European Crusaders.
Colossus of Rhodes 292-280 BC Greeks A giant statue of the Greek god Helios, c. 35m (110 ft) tall. Toppled by an earthquake in 226 BC, with the bronze scrap removed in AD 654. Earthquake
Lighthouse of Alexandria c. 280 BC Hellenistic Egypt Between 115 and 135 meters (383 - 440 ft) tall it was among the tallest structures on Earth for many centuries. AD 1303-1480 Earthquake
The Great Pyramid of Giza, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing.

The Greek category was not "Wonders" but theamata, which translates closer to "things to be seen".[2] The seven as we know them could only have been seen after 280 BC, when the Colossus of Rhodes was completed. Earlier lists included things like the Walls of Babylon. The list is at its core, a celebration of Greek accomplishments. Only two of the final seven were non-Greek. Interestingly enough, since the Colossus of Rhodes fell down after a mere 50 years (it fell in a massive earthquake in 226 BC), few historians could have seen it standing (Philo amongst them) and so the exact form of the statue is unknown. It is known however that the Colossus could not have straddled the harbour entrance as it is often depicted in romantic medieval pictures.

Antipater's first list replaced the Lighthouse of Alexandria with the Ishtar Gate. Of these wonders, the only one that has survived to the present day is the Great Pyramid of Giza. The existence of the Hanging Gardens has not been proven, though theories abound. Records and archaeology confirm that the other five wonders used to exist. The Temple of Artemis and the Statue of Zeus were destroyed by fire, while the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Colossus, and tomb of Maussollos were destroyed by earthquakes. There are sculptures from the tomb of Maussollos and the Temple of Artemis in the British Museum in London.

[edit] See also

[edit] Further reading

  • D'Epiro, Peter, and Mary Desmond Pinkowish, "What Are the Seven Wonders of the World? and 100 Other Great Cultural Lists". Anchor. December 1, 1998. ISBN 0-385-49062-3
  • "The Seven Wonders of the World, a History of Modern Imagination" written by John & Elizabeth Romer in 1995
  • "The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" edited by Peter Clayton and Martin Price in 1988

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Anon. (1993)The Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia First Edition Oxford:Oxford University
  2. ^ Clayton, Peter; Martin J. Price The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World Routledge 1990 ISBN:978-0415050364 p. 4[1]

[edit] External links

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