The 7 ancient wonders of the world are more or less a myth to many, as there are no evidence to prove that some of the sights on the list actually existed.
The phrase Seven Wonders were first defined as the mata in Greek by Philo of Byzantium in 225 BCE, in his work titled The Seven Wonders. It loosely translates to ‘things to be seen’ which, in today’s common English, we would phrase as the ‘must sees’. Other writers on the Seven Wonders include Herodotus, Callimachus of Cyrene and Antipater of Sidon. Of the original seven, only the Great Pyramid exists today.
We cruise through now to explore the much touted 7 ancient wonders of the world. We shall see to them, one-by-one, starting from the Great Pyramid of Giza to the Lighthouse of Alexandria, we would understand the seven wonders of the ancient world.
The list of the 7 ancient Wonders of the Ancient World as compiled by the Greek writers is still what we follow here.
However, it may interest you to know that of all the sites on the list of the 7 ancient wonders of the world; it is only the Great Pyramid in Egypt that is still very much intact, as of today.
Let me reiterate it again, the Great Giza Pyramid in Egypt is the only sight on the list of the 7 ancient wonders of the world that is largely intact.
About The 7 Ancient Wonders of the World
Now lets the seven wonders of the ancient world:
Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt: The 7 Ancient Wonders of the World
This wonder is often referred to as the famous Tomb of Pharaoh. The Great Pyramid of Giza was built as a tomb for the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu in 2560 BCE. The 481-foot monument took 20 years period to build. And, it is estimated that over two million blocks of shaped stones were used during the time of building it. Each stone weighs on average more than two tons.
At that time, it was the tallest physical structure known to man. It was pride as the tallest physical man-made structure for four millennia. It lost that title only in the Middle Ages, to the English Lincoln Cathedral surpassed it in 1300. For the later was the new tallest structure.
As documented, the Great Pyramid at Giza was constructed between 2584 and 2561 BCE for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu. However, like I pointed above, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for almost 4,000 years.
Excavations of the interior of the pyramid were only initiated in earnest in the late 18th and early 19th centuries CE and so the intricacies of the interior which so intrigue modern people were unknown to the ancient writers. However, it was the structure itself with its perfect symmetry and imposing height which impressed ancient visitors.
The interior has three chambers, namely the King’s Chamber, the Queen’s Chamber, and the unfinished lowest chamber – and ascending and descending passages.
It is said that the Great pyramid is 20 feet taller than it is today. No thanks to the geo-physical weathering of its pyramidion, the sacred capstone that would have crowned it.
What we see today isn’t quite the wonder the ancients would have beheld. On the day it was finished, the pyramid’s surface would have been smooth and pale — but time has worn away the limestone casing, fragments of which can still be seen toward the great structure’s base.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is an alpha wonder on the list of the 7 ancient wonders of the world.
This ancient wonder of the world has tormented historians and archeologists for millennia, as they continually fail to uncover its mystery.
They have failed to understand how the Great Giza Pyramid was built. These men are often overwhelmed by the accuracy and precision displayed by the builders of the Pyramid.
After all, who wouldn’t marvel at that? It is said that its stones come from distant quarries, some as far as 500 miles away. Moreover, looking at the pyramid one would observe that it was built with astonishing precision. The Pyramid structure’s measurements are as accurate as a 21st-century architect with modern tools could achieve.
However, on the contrary, as of then the ancient Egyptians didn’t have wheels, pulleys, or even iron tools. So how did they manage to transport, lift, and shape the stones?
These questions among others put The Great Giza Pyramid ahead of other sights on the 7 ancient wonders of the world list.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Iraq: The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The story about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon is more or less a myth, because today there is no substantive evidence.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, if they ever existed as described, were built by Nebuchadnezzar II between 605-562 BCE as a gift to his wife. They are described by the ancient writer Diodorus Siculus as being self-watering planes of exotic flora and fauna. It has a height of over 75 feet (23 metres,) through a series of climbing terraces. Diodorus wrote that Nebuchadnezzar’s wife, Amtis of Media, missed the mountains and flowers of her homeland. Consequently the king commanded that a mountain be created for her in Babylon, for he didn’t want her to lack anything.
The location of ancient city of Babylon was in modern-day Baghdad. Archeologists have scoured the area, but no search has ever turned up the remains of the touted massive tiered planting beds.
Contradicting the existence claims is the fact that nobody has ever found the gardens mentioned in any existing Babylonian text. The only descriptions of them come from the Greeks who catalogued the seven wonders of the ancient world.
For the fact that no ancient Babylonia text documented this claim of Babylon city is a confirmation that the gardens never existed at all. It may be a well crafted mythological story.
On the other hand, many others think that the Greek writers were confused. That maybe they were thinking of an Assyrian garden near current-day Mosul and got the locations mixed up.
Statue of Zeus At Olympia, Greece: The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The Statue of Zeus, one of the most remarkable of the 7 ancient wonders of the world, is an offshoot of rivalry.
The sculpture was originally commissioned by the Greek city-state of Elis, famous for holding the ancient Olympics, in an effort to outdo rival polis Athens, who had just finished construction on a massive statue of Athena for the Parthenon.
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was created by the great Greek sculptor Phidias (known as the finest sculptor of the ancient world in the 5th century BCE, he also worked on the Parthenon and the statue of Athena there in Athens). The statue depicted the god Zeus seated on his throne, his skin of ivory and robes of hammered gold, and was 40 feet (12 m) tall, designed to inspire awe in the worshippers who came to the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.
Not to be outdone, the Elean council snatched up the sculptor, a man named Phidias, as soon as his labors in Athens were finished and commissioned him to depict the king of all gods in his seat at the great temple in Olympia.
It took Phidias 12 years to complete the sculpture, and that was in 435 BCE.
The god holds in his hands he held a gold statue of Nike, the goddess of victory, and a scepter with a gilded eagle. King of all gods (Zeus) himself was made from a wooden base that was then covered in ivory panels and bronze and gold plates.
Sadly, the Temple at Olympia fell into ruin after the rise of Christianity and the ban on the Olympic Games as `pagan rites’. The statue was carried off to Constantinople where it was later destroyed, sometime in either the 5th or 6th centuries CE, by an earthquake. The present day Olympic Games derived its name from circumstances surrounding the statue of Zeus.
The Statue of Zeus is one of the sights on the 7 ancient wonders of the world list that has existence credence. After the centuries of ruins, In the 1950s, archeologists discovered Phidias’s workshop, complete with the tools he used to craft the statue. Scattered in the rubble were small fragments of the gemstones and ivory that once adorned one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Temple Of Artemis At Ephesus, Turkey: The 7 Ancient Wonders of the World
On the list of the 7 ancient wonders of the world, this particular building suffered more destruct than others. It was destroyed on at least four separate occasions, but each time was rebuilt more beautiful, big thanks to the rich king.
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Ephesos), a Greek colony in Asia Minor, took over 120 years to build, but took only a night to destroyed. It was Completed in 550 BCE. The temple was 425 feet (about 129 m) long, 225 feet (almost 69 m) wide, supported by 127 60 foot (about 18 m) high columns.
The building of the Temple was financed by the wealthy King Croesus of Lydia, who spared no stone unturned to ensuring sophistication. The Temple was so beautiful that every account of it is written with the same tone of awe. Everyone seems to agree with the other that this was among the most amazing structures ever raised by humans. It is sure worthy to be on the list of the wonders of the ancient world.
Historically, the original temple dates back to the Bronze Age. The people of Ephesus believed it was originally built by the Amazons, the fierce huntresses of Greek legend. That temple was destroyed in the 7th century BCE in a flood due to the vulnerable location of the site.
But that didn’t stop Ephesians of the 6th century from rebuilding it in the exact same location. Croesus, the rich Lydian king who famously misunderstood the oracle’s prediction that his war was going to destroy a great empire, reportedly funded the new temple’s construction.
Sadly, On July 21, 356 BCE a man named Herostratus set fire to the temple in order, as he said, to achieve lasting fame by forever being associated with the destruction of something so beautiful. The Ephesians decreed that his name should never be recorded or remembered but Strabo set it down as a point of interest in the history of the temple.
The temple was rebuilt again after 30 years later, but this time the Ephesian were determined to make it last. No expense was spared, and it was built larger than it ever appeared.
However, the Temple was finally destroyed utterly by a Christian mob lead by Saint John Chrysostom in 401 CE.
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Turkey: The 7 Ancient Wonders of the World
Located in present-day Bodrum, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was the tomb was a monument of such astonishing beauty that its occupant’s name became synonymous with any above-ground structure designed to house the dead: the mausoleum.
It was the tomb of the Persian Satrap Mausolus, built in c. 351 BCE. Mausolus while alive chose Halicarnassus as his capital city, and he and his beloved wife Artemisia went to great lengths to create a city whose beauty would be unmatched in the world.
Before his death, Mausolus and his sister-wife Artemisia had already spent a fortune erecting several beautiful marble statues and buildings. The structures wore the Greek architectural designs. And, these structures graced all over Halicarnassus. However, Mausolus himself had decided that his tomb would be no exception of such an astonishing beauty.
He had already planned it all out by the time of his death, and he left Artemisia to oversee the construction. When he died, Artemisia threw her fortune behind the project. Unfortunately, she died two years into the project.
She was cremated and her ashes entombed together with that of her husband in the Mausoleum. The builders, however, continued their work around the marble.
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus represents the best structure, with the state of the art appearance.
Though, it wasn’t the largest building in the ancient world, then. On the other hand, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus represents the best structure, with an intriguing and astonishing appearance.
Its walls stood at a staggering 148 feet high, and its position on a scenic hilltop meant it towered over the surrounding landscape.
Sadly, it was destroyed by a series of earthquakes and lay in ruin for hundreds of years. It was in 1494 BCE, that it was completely dismantled and used by the Knights of St. John of Malta in the building of their castle at Bodrum (where the ancient stones can still be seen today). It is from the tomb of Mausolus that the English word `mausoleum’ is derived.
Colossus of Rhodes, Greece: The 7 Ancient Wonders of the World
The Colossus of Rhodes was more than just an enormous statue — it was a symbol of hope and the preservation of a way of life that had teetered on the brink of destruction.
The statue was commissioned after the defeat of the invading army of Demetrius in 304 BCE. Demetrius left behind much of his siege equipment and weaponry while fleeing. The war equipments were sold by the Rhodians for 300 talents which is approximately 360 million U.S. dollars today. The money was used to finance the building of the Colossus.
How it actually came to be. In the late fourth century BCE, the city of Rhodes was under a serious threat from Antigonus I Monophthalmus, the ruler of Cyprus, who marshaled his army to besiege the island.
Fortunate enough for the Rhodes, help came at the eleventh hour from Rhodes’s ally, Ptolemy I of Egypt. Ptolemy had sent relief forces. Pinched between the newcomers and the island’s defenses, the army from Cyprus retreated, abandoning the great siege war equipment.
Sadly, the statue stood for only 56 years before it was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BCE. It is the only wonder of the ancient world on the list of the 7 ancient wonders of the world that had the shortest existence.
Checkout: The 7 wonders of the world
Lighthouse Of Alexandria, Egypt: The 7 Ancient Wonders Of The World
The Pharos of Alexandria, a marvel of ancient engineering, is widely believed to have been the first lighthouse ever created. Though its stones and furnace long ago sank to the bottom of the Eastern Harbor, they say its light shines on in the beacons of all the lighthouses of the world.
The Lighthouse at Alexandria, was built on the island of Pharos, stood close to 440 feet (134 m) in height and was commissioned by Ptolemy I Soter. Construction was completed sometime around 280 BCE. The lighthouse was the third tallest human-made structure in the world (after the pyramids) and 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 structure rose from a square base to a middle octagonal section up to a circular top and those who saw it in its glory reported that words were inadequate to describe its beauty. The lighthouse was badly damaged in an earthquake in 956 CE, again in 1303 CE and 1323 CE and, by the year 1480 CE, it was gone. The Egyptian fort Quaitbey now stands on the site of the Pharaohs, built with some of the stones from the ruins of the lighthouse.
In conclusion, of all on the 7 ancient wonders of the world list, only the Great Giza Pyramid is largely intact. The Babylon we have been hearing is about seem more a myth than a reality that exist.