7 wonders of the
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29 April 2015
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
It was only during the Middle Ages that a list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was penned down. It has been observed that the compilation comprises of mostly huge buildings, monuments and statues. Another important aspect of these Seven Wonders that belonged to the ancient times was based on mythology, religion, art, science and strength of the prominent figures. But with the passage of time and growth of civilizations, they are viewed as great works of art and architecture. The power of humans to bring such massive changes in the landscape and their craftsmanship is adored today. The huge structures like the pyramids, statues, temples stand out today to speak about the unbelievable capacity of the artists to sculpt them. Their beauty and construction during a time when only hand-tools were available is incomparable.
The list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World runs thus according to the time of their construction:
The Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia in Greece.
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
The Colossus of Rhodes.
The Lighthouse at Alexandria in Egypt.
In 225 BCE, Philo of Byzantium commented that these wonders of the world were the most attractive sites for travelers and tourists and the must-see places. Other great writers also offered their views on these Seven Wonders of the World that include Callimachus, Herodotus, Antipater and others. There were many controversies regarding the list and they thought that the Egyptian Labyrinth, Babylon’s Walls and Ishtar Gate of Babylon should have been included.
A detail discussion about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World gives us a picture of the colossal buildings and monuments and the reasons why they have been compiled under this list (Clayton and Martin 4).
THE GREAT PYRAMID AT GIZA – This huge pyramid was the highest structure of the world made by man during 2584 and 2561 BCE. It was built for Khufu, the Egyptian Pharaoh. All those who visited this majestic pyramid in ancient days, admired the structure, the great height and the perfect symmetry until during the later centuries the intricate workmanship of the interiors were brought to light by the modern artists and visitors.
THE HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON, as the story goes was constructed by Nebuchadnezzar as a gift for his beloved wife between 605-562 BCE. This garden is not available today. An ancient writer Diodorus Siculus has described it as being a series of terraces that climb to a height of more than 75 feet and the exotic flora and fauna of these planes received water naturally. He further wrote that this fantastic garden was created for the Queen Amtis of Media, so that she did not miss the natural beauty of the mountains and flowers of the place she had come from when she lived in Babylon. Since Herodotus did not mention anything about these gardens, a lot of controversies exist regarding these gardens. But Philo and Diodorus and also the famous historian Strabo claim that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were created by the king but unfortunately the earthquake just after the 1st century CE destroyed it. There are proofs that Herodotus did not mention many other figures, facts and places when writing about Babylon. But these were present and some exist till today.
THE STATUE OF ZEUS AT OLYMPIA – Zeus, the Greek God was embodied as the Almighty in this statue that stood in Olympia. It’s height was 40 feet and the statue was seated on a marvelously carved out throne of ivory and the attire of the God was made of hammered gold. This statue was sculpted by Phidias. The statue was so huge that visitors appeared like dwarfs in front of it. It was lighted up that gave the work an awe-inspiring and wonderful look. Gradually, this temple turned into ruins because of the prevalence of Christianity in Olympia. The church banned the Olympic Games also. So the huge statue was taken to Constantinople but could not be preserved for long and soon an earthquake during the 5th or the 6th centuries destroyed this marvelous statue completely.
TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS EPHESOS – The amazing Temple of Artemis at Epheos won great respect and popularity for its awesome beauty. The temple was erected around 550 BCE. Its height was 120 meters, width was 69 meters and it was supported by 127 columns that were 18 meters. History recalls that this unique temple was destroyed by Herostratus in 356 BCE on 21st July. He was a fanatic and set the temple on fire only to gain importance and be remembered forever. Enraged Ephesians ordered for his execution and declared that nobody will ever say or write his name. Later, the temple was built again twice but it was not as magnificent as it was earlier.
THE MAUSOLEUM OF HALICARNASSUS – This was a tomb especially built for Mauslos, the Persian Satrap in 351 BCE. This huge tomb of 135 feet height bears evidence of the intricate sculpture and heavy ornamental designs that were prevalent during this time. Mauslos and Artemisia, his wife, made Halicarnassus their capital and worked to make this city one of the most beautiful cities that the world had ever seen. After the death of Mauslos in 353 BCE, Artemisia ordered the best sculptors to erect a tomb equally beautiful that would retain the glory of the city. After her death just after two years, her ashes were laid down in the same tomb as her husband. But nothing remains of this city or the tomb. A series of earthquakes destroyed it completely and it was turned to ruins.
THE COLOSSUS AT RHODES – In the 19th and 20th centuries, this enormous figure was depicted as a figure who straddled along the city of Rhodes which was an island city and modern travelers viewed it thus. But the Colossus of Rhodes had more resemblance to the Manhattan harbor Statue of Liberty in the USA. It was a 110 feet high statue and was built during 292 and 280 BCE. It was erected to remember how the Demetrius army was defeated in 304 BCE. It stood there gloriously for about 56 years after which a terrible earthquake destroyed it. Although only the ruins remained, it became one of the greatest tourists’ spots according to Strabo.
THE LIGHTHOUSE AT ALEXANDRIA – This man-made structure stands second in height after the Giza pyramids. It was finished in 280 BCE and was 440 feet high. Its lights stretched as far as 35 miles through the sea waters. According to ancients, the beauty of the lighthouse was just beyond words. Unfortunately an earthquake of 956 BCE caused great damages and again the earthquake in 1480 destroyed it completely.
The historians who have compiled these Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are indeed highly reliable and respected throughout the world. Hence their accounts cannot be denied in any way as sources of history.
Clayton, Peter; Martin J. Price. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Routledge. 1990. Print.