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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

historical landmarks | November 3, 2018

Ancient ruins and monuments around the world can be quite intriguing. What history do they hold from past civilizations and what can we hope to learn from them?  

Print of the Statue Of Zeus; Wonder Of The World

(Original Caption) Wonders of the World- Statue of Zeus by Phidia. BPA 2#5526

At some point in time during the 5th century, the statue of the Greek god, Zeus was either lost or destroyed, which is why there are very few true images of it. Built by sculptor, Phidias around 435 B.C., this wonder of the ancient world was made of gold, ivory and wood. It stood over 40 feet in height and was seated on a cedar throne. We find the details from ancient Greek descriptions and coins. Housed in its own temple, the Eleans, who built the temple, were also custodians of the Olympic Games.  

The Great Pyramid of Giza

This Great Pyramid was completed around 2560 B.C. and reached 481 feet. Having a smooth exterior, it is believed to have been built to honor the Pharaoh Khufu. It is the oldest, as well as the largest, of three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex that borders El Giza, Egypt, and is the only one of the seven wonders still in existence today. For more than 3,000 years, this pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world. With three known chambers inside, the King and Queen chambers were higher up in the pyramid with a lower unfinished chamber. Other buildings in the complex included two mortuary temples and three smaller pyramids. The smaller pyramids were for the king’s wives – probably a smart idea to keep those wives separate from the Queen.    

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

Standing 400 feet in height, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was built around 280 B.C. and guarded the ancient Egyptian city. For many centuries, it was known as the tallest building in the world but after numerous earthquakes, it became ruins. Materials salvaged from the ruins was put to good use in 1480 to build the Citadel of Qaitbay, which is a fortress that still exists on Pharos Island. UNESCO sponsored a team of marine archaeologists in 1968 who discovered the remains of part of the lighthouse; but, due to it being a military zone, the project was put on hold. Then, again, in 1994, another group of archaeologists re-discovered the remains. This time, some remains were brought up for the public to see. It’s now possible to dive down and see further remains.     

The Colossus of Rhodes

This wonder was constructed to celebrate Rhodes’ victory over the ruler of Cyprus and was built in the City of Rhodes. The statue was an erection of the Greek sun god, Helios and was 108 feet high. Collapsing in 226 B.C., due to an earthquake, it was considered to be the tallest statue of the ancient world. Ptolemy III was going to pay for it to be reconstructed, but the Rhodians were afraid that they had offended Helios, the sun god, so they turned down the offer. The destroyed statue lay on the ground for 800 years. One of its thumbs was larger than most statues. An Arab force captured Rhodes in 653 and a story was relayed that the statue was melted down and sold to a Jew, which could be a metaphor for Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about the destruction of a great statue.  

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

Originally called the Tomb of Mausolus, the Mausoleum was built around 350 B.C. and is in the location of Bodrum in southwestern Turkey. Designed for a Persian ruler and his wife, once again, this wonder was destroyed by earthquakes and was actually the last one to be destroyed. There were sculpted statutes around this structure, which was one of the reasons for it being named one of the seven wonders. Charles Newton was sent by the British Museum in 1852 to search for remains of some of these statues. Not having an exact location of where to dig, he studied ancient writings until he found the most likely spot to buy in order to begin digging. He explored through tunnels underneath, until he finally came to an area where he found a staircase, some walls, and three of the corners of the foundation, which is when he was able to determine the correct plots of land to buy for further excavation.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Ephesus is one of Turkey’s cities, now in ruins, where the Apostle Paul and probably John the Baptist preached. This is the site where the temple of the goddess, Artemis (the goddess of hunting), once existed. The temple was actually destroyed three times, the first time was through a flood, the second time in 356 B.C. through arson by Herostratus, seeking a twisted form of fame and the last time by the Goths, an East German tribe, in a raid.       

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon – Original image by Ferdinand Knab and uploaded by Mark Cartwright who published it as Public Doman.

Built by Nebuchadnezzar for his Queen, the daughter of Cyaxeres, these gardens were 400 feet square on several tiers of arches, one over the other. Each one had a solid platform with terraces topped with flowers, shrubs and trees and even a garden on the roof. The gardens were watered from the reservoir from the river using hydraulic pumps. There were beautiful apartments underneath in the arches.

If we could personally visit these seven wonders of the ancient world, what an interesting vacation it would be – one we would not soon forget! Too bad we don’t have a time machine to travel back in time to see what they looked like in their original state of beauty. 

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