Seven Wonders of the World
Several writers in ancient times wrote lists of what they thought were the most amazing structures ever built by man. Herodotus, a Greek historian, compiled a list in the 400's B.C. Callimachus of Cyrene in North Africa and Philo of Byzantium, both in the 200's B. C. also made up lists. The usual number of structures on the list was 7. This number must have had some special meaning for the ancient peoples. Most of the wonders were Greek. Usually the lists agreed in all but one name. A matter of interest is that not all the wonders existed at one time.
The only one of the original seven wonders which still survives is the Ancient Pyramids at Giza. Giza is in Egypt north of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile River. Three pyramids were built between 2500 and 2700 B.C. They were built to be tombs for rulers of Egypt. The largest pyramid is that of Khufu. It covers 13 acres. It was the tallest building in the world until the 1900s. The sloping walls of the pyramids began as steps leading up to the top to bring large blocks of stone by means of rollers. Later, the steps were filled in. Inside the pyramids were lots of small rooms and corridors made to stop thieves from stealing the wonderful treasures buried with the rulers. However, most of these treasures were stolen in the few hundred years after the pyramids were completed.
According to stories, in 600 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon built a beautiful hanging garden as high as 75 feet in the air on his palace near the Euphrates River. He wanted his wife to feel less lonely for her home in Persia. It was built on a large stone platform on stone columns. Builders must have devised a system of irrigation to bring water up from below using pumps and other pieces of machinery. This wonder is officially called the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Zeus of Olympia was a huge statue of Zeus, the king of the gods, which stood in the temple in Olympia in Greece. It was 40 feet tall and almost reached the top of the temple. It was sculpted by Phidias around 450 B. C. and remained in Olympia for eight centuries until Christians asked for it to be removed. It was taken to Constantinople where it was later destroyed in a fire.
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was really two temples built on the same site, one built in the 500's B. C., and the second in the 300's B.C., after the first was destroyed by fire. Ephesus was an important Greek port city on the west coast of modern-day Turkey. The temple contained 127 60-foot marble columns and a huge statue of the goddess Artemis.
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was a tomb built by the wife of Mausolus, king of a country in Asia Minor (now Turkey). He died in 353 B.C. It was a building made up of three layers of white marble for a total of 135 feet. The tomb itself was on the roof of the building along with a 20-foot high sculpture of a four-horse chariot. The structure was mostly destroyed in an earthquake in the 1200's.
The Colossus of Rhodes was a giant bronze statue of the sun god Helios. It was 100 feet high, the tallest in the world, and stood in the harbor of Rhodes, an island in the Aegean Sea near Greece. It was finished by Chares, a sculptor, around 280 B.C. and destroyed by an earthquake about 60 years later.
The Lighthouse at Alexandria was completed in 270 B.C. during the reign of Ptolemy II. The lighthouse stood on the island of Pharos in the harbor of Alexandria at the mouth of the Nile River in Egypt. It is estimated that it was 380 feet tall and was constructed of three tiers with a 16-foot statue (of Ptolemy or Alexander) at the top. It was destroyed by an earthquake about 700-1000 years later.
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