The seven wonders of the Ancient world refer to remarkable construction of antiquity and is one of the first travel lists in history. The idea of creating a list of architectural wonders arose around the 4th century BC after the Greek conquest of much of the known world, giving Hellenistic travelers access to new civilizations like Egyptians, Persians and Babylonians. The Greek writers did not refer to these monuments as wonders but rather as “things to be seen” so I guess our need of making top-lists originates in the old days. Of course, each person had their own list but the most famous one is the list of Anitpater of Sidon from around 140 BC. So, these are the “original” Seven Wonders of the World.
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was a tomb built between 353 and 350 BC for Mausolus, a governor in the Persian Empire. After he died, Artemisia who was both his wife and sister decided to built him a tomb greater than all tombs which is how the word mausoleum came to be the eponym for “grand tombs”. Artemisia lived only two years after the death of her husband and the urns with their ashes were placed in the unfinished structure. The mausoleum was destroyed by a series of earthquakes in the 15th century and the remaining stones were used to build the massive Bodrum Castle. House of the Temple in Washington was designed as an exact replica of the Mausoleum.
Statue of Zeus at Olympia was a giant seated, about 13 meters tall, made by the Greek sculptor Phidias around 432 BC. The statue seated on a magnificent throne of cedar wood, ornamented with ebony, ivory, gold and precious stones. It represented god Zeus and in his right hand there was a small statue of a crowned Nike, the goddess of victory, and in his left hand, a golden scepter on which an eagle perched. Its destruction during the 5th century AD is a source of debate, as details of its form are known only from ancient Greek descriptions.
Lighthouse of Alexandria was built between 280 and 247 BC and between 393 and 450 BC and it was the tallest man-made structure on Earth for many centuries, reaching up to 137 meters high. Built by Ptolemaic Kingdom, the lighthouse was badly damaged by three earthquakes between 965 and 1323 after which it became an abandoned ruin. The ruined survived until 1480 when the last of its remnant stones were used to build the Citadel of Qaitbay on the site, however, in 1994, French archeologists discovered some remains of the lighthouse on the floor of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour.
Temple of Artemis was a Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis and it was located in Ephesus and was completely rebuilt three times before its final destruction in 401. It took 120 years to be completed, being finished in 550 BC. It was built of marble and was the favorite wonder of Antipater of Sidon. Nowadays, only foundations and sculptural fragments of the latest of the temples remain at the site.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon are the only of the Seven Wonders of the World of which location has not been definitively established. They are said to have been built in the ancient city of Babylon, near the present-day Hillah, but there are no texts that mention the gardens and no actual archeological evidence has been found. Diodorus Siculus described multi-leveled gardens reaching 22 meters high and if the gardens indeed existed, they must have been destroyed after first century AD.
Colossus of Rhodes was built between 292 and 280 BC and they represented the Greek god Helios rising in the city of Rhodes. The giant statue was made of bronze and iron and stood over 30 meters high, being the tallest statue of the ancient world. It was the last of the seven wonders to be completed but the first was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC. The Colossus snapped at the knees and fell over on to the land. The pharaoh of Egypt paid for its reconstruction but the oracle of Delphi made the locals believe they have offended Helios, thus declining to rebuild it.
Great Pyramid of Giza was built as a tomb and is the oldest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropilis. It is the oldest of the seven wonders and the only one to remain largely intact. It took a period of over 20 years to complete, around 2560 BC and it consists of an estimated 2.3 million limestone blocks transported from nearby quarries. The gigantic granite stone found in the King’s chamber weigh 25 to 80 tons and was transported from Aswan, more than 500 miles away.