We all know the new Seven Wonders of the World
The Great Wall of China
Machu Picchu, Peru
Taj Mahal, India
Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
Chicken Itza, Mexico
The Colosseum, Italy
But have you remembered the ancient Seven Wonders of the World? The original seven wonders were first defined as themata (‘things to be seen’) by Philo of Byzantium in 225 BCE, in his work On the Seven Wonders. Other writers on the Seven Wonders were Herodotus, Callimachus of Cyrene and Antipater of Sidon.
But why the number seven? Because the Greeks thought that the number had mystical significance and it was the total of known planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn along with the Sun and Moon.
But unfortunately, these wonders of the ancient world were destroyed except the Great Pyramid. Still, all the seven continue to amaze us and it will always be an incredible and remarkable work of human civilisation.
Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt
The Great Pyramid at Giza is the only wonder of the ancient world which still exists. It was built between 2584 and 2561 BCE for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops). It was the tallest man-made structure for almost 4,000 years. This pyramid covers 13 acres and is believed to contain more than 2 million stone blocks that weigh from 2 to 30 tons each.
According to scientists, the Egyptians used log rollers and sledges to move the stones into place. The slopped walls were originally built as steps and then filled in with limestone.
There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The Queen’s Chamber and King’s Chamber are higher up within the pyramid structure.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was constructed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II between 605-562 BCE as a gift to his wife. It was described as a great example of engineering. The gardens were said to have been planted at 75 feet on the huge brick terrace.
Ancient writer Diodorus Siculus described that the king’s wife Amtis of Media missed the mountains and the flowers of her homeland so the king built the gardens for her.
But there are also many controversies over the existence of the gardens. Many scholars and historians believed that they were purely mythical. Also, Herodotus, ‘the Father of History’ didn’t mention anything about this in Babylonian history. Diodorus, Philo, and the historian Strabo claimed the existence of the gardens. If it did exist then it was destroyed sometimes after the first century AD.
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Greek sculptor Phidias made this giant seated figure, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia which was 13 m tall. It was made around 435 BC at the sanctuary of Olympia, Greece and erected in the Temple of Zeus. It was so tall that its head nearly touched the top of the temple.
The statue depicted the thunder god Zeus seated on his throne. The statue was decorated with ivory and gold. According to legends, after finishing the statue Phidias asked Zeus for a sign of approval, soon after the temple was struck by lightning. It was lost and destroyed during the 5th century AD. The temple fell into ruin after the rise of Christianity. The statue was placed to Constantinople where it was later destroyed.
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The Temple of Artemis was built to dedicate the goddess Artemis. It was located in Ephesus, a Greek port city on the west coast of modern-day Turkey. It took over 120 years to build, it completed in 550 BCE. The temple was 425 feet high and 225 feet wide.
It was completely rebuilt three times before its final destruction in 401 AD. The wonderful of these structures were two marble temples built around 550 BC and 350 BC. The building was burned on July 21, 356 BC, on the same night Alexander the Great was born. Six years later the construction of a new temple at this place was begun. The new building was surrounded by marble steps that led to a more than 400-foot-long terrace. Inside stood 127 60-foot marble columns and a statue of Artemis.
Alexander offered to rebuild the temple but Ephesians refused him and rebuild it after his death at their own expense. The third was larger than the second; 450 feet long by 225 feet wide and 60 feet high, with more than 127 columns.
Finally, in 262 AD the temple was destroyed by Ostrogoths. The archaeologists rediscovered the temple in 1860. Today the site of the temple, which lies just outside Selçuk, is marked by a single column constructed of dissociated fragments discovered on the site.
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was a tomb built between 353 and 350 BC at Halicarnassus for Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire and his sister-wife Artemisia II of Caria. Mausolus died in 353 BCE and Artemisia wished to create a tomb in the memory of his husband and brother. Artemisia died two years after and her ashes were entombed with his in the mausoleum.
The tomb was 135 feet high and entirely built by white marble. The building’s design was consisting of three rectangular layers. The first layer was a 60-foot base of steps, followed by a middle layer of 36 Ionic columns and a stepped, pyramid-shaped roof. At the top of the roof lay the tomb and a 20-foot marble rendition of a four-horse chariot.
In the 13th century, the mausoleum was destroyed in an earthquake. The remains were later used by the Knights of St. John of Malta in the building of their castle at Bodrum. The English word mausoleum is derived from the tomb of Mausolus.
Colossus of Rhodes
The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek-titan god of the sun Helios constructed by the Rhodians between 292 and 280 BCE. It was built after the defeat of the invading army of Demitrius in 304 BCE. It is believed that the Colossus stood approximately 70 cubits and 108 feet high. The legends said Demitrius left behind much of his siege equipment and weaponry. The Rhodians sold these for 300 talents which money they used to build the Colossus.
The statue stood for only 56 years and in 226 BCE it was destructed by an earthquake and never rebuilt. Hundreds of years later, Arabs invaded Rhodes and sold the metal. This is the reason archaeologists do not know the exact location of the statue or how it was looked like. Some believe it depicted the sun god standing naked while he lifted a torch in one hand and held a spear in the other.
In 2015, there were plans to build a new Colossus at Rhodes Harbour but the actual location of the original is still unknown.
Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Lighthouse at Alexandria or the Pharos of Alexandria was built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom on a small island called Pharos near the city of Alexandria. It was built between 280 and 247 BC and was between 120 and 137 m tall.
The lighthouse was designed by the Greek architect Sostratos and it helped to guide Nile River ships in and out of the city’s busy harbour. Its light (a mirror which reflected the sun’s rays by day and a fire by night) could be seen as far as 35 miles out to sea.
The lighthouse was badly damaged in an earthquake in 956 CE, again in 1303 CE and 1323 CE. Finally, in 1480 CE it was totally gone. The archaeologists discovered some remains of the lighthouse on the floor of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour.