Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
1. The Pyramids at Giza (Egyptain)
The only one of the Seven Wonders to still stand in the modern world. Built by Egyptians around 4,500 years ago for Pharaohs Kufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. The Moors attempted to find the reported treasure of the pyramid around 800 C.E., but they were unsuccessful, as the tombs had been robbed in antiquity. They promptly stripped the largest pyramid of it's outer limestone covering and the top 30 feet of stonework, but soon they gave this up and left the great pyramids alone. This limestone was used to build much of Medieval Cairo. The location of the mummies and the treasure remain unknown to this day even though the pyramids are the world's most famous, and most studied, monuments.
2. The Phares at Alexandria (Egyptian)
A giant (400ft) lighthouse located on a penninsula near Alexandria in Egypt, it was completed around 280 B.C.E. by Sostrates of Knidos. The Pharoah Ptolomy commissioned it to make it safe for sea traders to enter into the city of Alexandria. The Lighthouse stood and continued to be used until it was topled by an earthquake in 1302 C.E. Divers in 1994 discovered many stone blocks and pillars in the ocean outside of Alexandria, and though as yet unprooven, these stones may have oncehave belonged to the Great Lighthouse.
3. the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (Babylonian)
Built by King Nebuchennezar for his Queen, who missed the lush forests of her native lands. The gardens did not hang, but were built on terraces on a pyramid-like structure. A large water system must have existed on the inside to bring water up to the upper levels. The inside was claimed to be big enough to turn a chariot around in. Exact measurements vary, but all historians agree that the structure must have been massive. A large structure foundation believed to be the Hanging Gardens was found in the early part of the 20th century by German archaeologist Robert Koldewey.
4. Atremis' Temple at Ephesus (Greek)
Designed by Scopas of Paros, the wonderous temple was buil taround 370 B.C.E. on the ruins of smaller temples. It was massive: 425 feet by 225 feet, and boasted some of the most beautiful relief and sculpture work of the day. It was destroyed by the Goths in 262 C.E., and, unlike the city of Ephesus, was not rebuilt. The remains of the temple were re-discovered by British architect John Turtle Wood in 1869.
5. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia (Greek)
The temple was built by Libon of Elis around 456 B.C.E. for the site where the Olympic Games were held. The statue of Zeus, which was located inside this temple, was reportedly made of ivory, gold, and many other precious materials. It was created by Phidias, the great Athenian sculptor who had also made the statue of Athena for the Parthenon. The giant figure of Zeus was seated in a throne holding a scepter in one hand and a figure of Nike (goddess of victory) in the other. The statue was so perfect it was reported that Zeus himself modeled for Phidias. After the decline of the Hellenic age the statue was removed, and the temple abandoned. The statue was destroyed by a fire in Constantinople in 462 C.E. The temple foundation was re-discovered during excavations in Olympia in the mid 19th century.
6. The Mausoleum in Halicarnassus (Greek)
This building was the tomb for King Mausolus. His sister-wife, Queen Artemisa, built it for him after his death in 353 B.C.E. Queen Artemisa hired artisans from across the classical world to construct and decorate the tomb. She also was burried in the tomb when she died in 351 B.C.E. The tomb overlooked the city of Halicarnassus for almost 2000 years, and remained untouched for most of them. In 1522 knights pilaged the temple, and removed much of the marble for use in cathedrals in Europe. The site was eventually forgotten. In the mid 19th century Englishman Charles Thomas Newton used ancient sources to locate and then excavate the site. Much of what he recovered, including the statues of Queen Artemisa and King Mausolus, can be found in the British Museum.
7. The Colosus of Rhodes (Greek)
This monument, contrary to popular misconception, probably stood on only one side of the great harbor of Rhodes. It was built around 300 B.C.E. to celebrate a military victory. The statue was modeled by Chares of Lindos; the figure represented was probably Helios, the patron god of the island, and it most likely stood in a Classical Greek pose: nude, and with legs together. The materials were iron supports covered with copper plates, practical if it ever had to be repaired. It stood for almost 600 years, only to be toppled and shattered by an earthquake. The Colosus stayed in pieces for hundreds of years until it was sold to a Jewish merchent around 600 C.E. and carted away on camels. There has been no archeological evidence uncovered to point to where exactly the statue stood, exactly what it looked like, or where any surviving pieces might be today.
Want to learn more? I highly recommend The Museum of Unnatural Mystery