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Facts About the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Facts About the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Facts About the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Egypt’s Great Pyramid at Giza is the only ancient wonder that is still visible today.

It was built as a tomb for the Pharaoh Khufu and was completed in c.2580 BC.  Beside this, the largest of the pyramids, there are smaller ones for Khufu’s son and grandson as well as their various queens.

 

Along each side of its base, the Great Pyramid measures 755 feet and covers an area that is larger than ten football fields.  At the time of its completion, it rose to a height of 482 feet and remained the tallest structure in the world for about 4,000 years. 

 

Archaeologists estimate that is may have taken 100,000 men over a period of twenty years to build the Great Pyramid.  It was made from more than two million stone blocks and ancient workers assembled them using basic ramps, rollers and levers to affix them together.

 

Although archaeologists have found ruins that may be the mythic Hanging Gardens of Babylon, they know about them except from descriptions by ancient people who saw and wrote about them.  It is thought that the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, ordered their construction in 6,000 BC according to Greek and Roman writers.  Legend has it that the king built them for his queen who missed her home in Persia.

 

Ancient Babylon sat along the Euphrates River just south of present-day Baghdad, Iraq.  It is believed that the gardens would have been built high up on terraces that overlooked the city walls and faced the river.  They might have ranged 131 feet above the ground.  Water would reach them via slaves who pushed the water upward on a chain of buckets with the aid of a treadmill.

 

The only trace of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus today are a few foundation blocks and one column that has been rebuilt.  At one time, this grand marble and limestone temple was used in Lydia, Asia Minor to honor Artemis, Greek goddess of the moon and protector of animals.  Her Roman counterpart is Diana.

 

Croesus, an ancient King of Lydia (this would be part of present-day Turkey today) was famous for his wealth and he had the temple built in 560 BC.  The temple was comprised of 120 columns made from marble quarried in the nearby hills.  It would have been considerably larger than Athen’s Parthenon as it ranged 430 feet long and 259 feet wide.

 

The temple was burned in 356 BC only to be rebuilt again by Alexander the Great in the third century.  Unfortunately, the temple was invaded by Goths and later swamped by floods and left to the elements of time and nature.

 

The statue of Zeus at Olympus was built to honor the supreme ruler of the Greek pantheon of gods and goddesses.  Phidias of Athens, sculptor of Zeus, employed sheets of ivory and plates of gold to cover a wooden framework of the god.  He was built above a throne inlaid with gems and precious stones.  It was completed c.435 BC and viewing platforms up the temple walls were built at the time to allow ancient onlookers direct eye-contact with the statue if they so wished.

 

The Roman Emperor Caligula attempted to remove the statue to Rome in 40 AD, but legend says that the workers were scared off when the statue bellowed with laughter.  It was moved to Constantinople in  391 AD, but was destroyed by fire less than one hundred years later.

 

From the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (part of present-day Turkey) we get the word mausoleum used for any stately or grand tomb.  It was a stately tomb for Mausolos who was an ancient ruler of Caria, part of Persia and so named for him.  Although it looked like a Greek temple, it had a step pyramid near the top and this was followed by a statue of horse-drawn chariot which crowned the structure.  It was completed in 350 BC

 

The great mausoleum was not destroyed until c. 1450 AD when an earthquake hit the region.  Today, statues of its king and queen can be seen in the British Museum in London.

 

The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue that stood at the port of the Greek island of the Aegean Sea.  It was built at then end of the fourth century BC to commemorate the islanders holding off the conquering Greeks after a seven-year siege.  It was a statue of their sun god, Helios, but no one knows exactly how it might have looked.

 

Archaeologists do know that it was made of bronze and stood 108 feet high.  It is thought it took twelve years to complete and was designed by a ancient architect named Chares.  This wonder, too, was claimed by an earthquake when it fell to its knees in c.280 BC.

 

The Pharos of Alexandria was a magnificent lighthouse completed in c.280 BC.  It is believed to be the world’s first lighthouse and guided ships past the dangerous reefs into the harbor of ancient Alexandria.  It was built during the reign of Egyptian king Ptolemy II. 

 

The height of the Pharos is believed to have been about 384 feet.  The top tower burned a fire and it’s rooftop was crowned by a statue of Zeus.  It is thought that ships could see the beacon thirty-one miles away.  It also was destroyed by earthquake in the fourteenth century.

 

by J. A. Young