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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Brianna is a full-time writer, blogger, and editor. She loves uncovering ancient history and sharing her findings with others.

You've probably heard of the current wonders of the world, but have do you know the ancient ones?

You've probably heard of the current wonders of the world, but have do you know the ancient ones?

Travel Back in Time to the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World

Surely you've heard of the current Wonders of the World, but did you know there were ancient ones as well? Recorded during the Hellenistic civilization, these wonders were primarily found in the Mediterranean rim.

Once Philo of Byzantium in 225 B.C. published these seven wonders, it became a popular debate over which achievements deserved inclusion.

However, between human conflict and natural forces, all but one wonders were eventually destroyed. Furthermore, it is widespread speculation that some of these wonders never even existed at all.

While we may never know for sure, just the idea of these grand buildings is enough to make your imagination run wild.

The Seven Ancient Wonders of the World

  1. The Great Pyramid of Ginza
  2. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  3. Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  4. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  5. Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
  6. Colossus of Rhodes
  7. Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Great Pyramid is part of a group of three pyramids: Khufu (Cheops), Khafra (Chephren), and Menkaura (Mycerimus)–that were built between 2700 B.C. and 2500 B.C. as royal tombs.

The Great Pyramid is part of a group of three pyramids: Khufu (Cheops), Khafra (Chephren), and Menkaura (Mycerimus)–that were built between 2700 B.C. and 2500 B.C. as royal tombs.

1. The Great Pyramid Of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only and oldest ancient wonder still in almost perfect existence today, and it has stumped researchers for nearly thousands of years.

Located in Giza, Egypt, the Great Pyramid is the largest of the three pyramids there. Egyptologists believe that over approximately 20 years, the pyramid was built for the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu somewhere around 2560 B.C.

What seems to stump these scientists is that the design and construction that went into this pyramid was way beyond their times. It took a great deal of logic and design for this pyramid to stay standing.

The Great Pyramid comprises approximately 2.3 million limestone rocks and is believed to have come from nearby quarries. Large granite stones are also found in the "Kings" chamber. In total, there is an estimated 5.5 million tons of limestone and 8,000 tons of granite. Quite an accomplishment, wouldn't you say? How could the people of Egypt create such a sturdy monstrosity to still be standing today?

There are many theories on this subject. Of course, it is difficult to say that the blocks had been dragged, lifted, or rolled because that is nearly impossible. The Greeks seemed to believe that slave laborers were used, but after much research and modern discovery, it's thought that the pyramid was built by thousands and thousands of highly skilled workers. The biggest mystery of The Great Pyramid was the planning of its construction. It has been said that whoever architect-ed the structure has precision unmatched by any other.

You go, Egyptians!

Adding to the mystery, no mention of the gardens has been found in Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions.

Adding to the mystery, no mention of the gardens has been found in Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions.

2. The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon

The ancient city of Babylon, which is near present-day Babil, Iraq, is where the Hanging Gardens of Babylon supposedly were grown. These gardens were said to be built by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife, who was homesick for the trees and plants of her homeland in Media. The walls of the city of Babylon claimed to have been 56 miles long, 80 feet thick, and 320 feet high. Inside were fortresses, temples, and gold, oh my!

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Rising above this splendid city was the Tower of Babel, a famous temple dedicated to the god Marduk. The Greek geographer Strabo recorded the gardens of having vaulted terraces raised one above the other resting on cube pillars. The pillars were hollow and filled with dirt for large trees to be planted. To get to the top, you had to ascend a large set of stairs. On the sides of the stairs were water engines to raise water from the Euphrates River into the garden.

However, in the 2nd century B.C., the gardens were tragically destroyed by several earthquakes. So how do we know about these ancient wonder gardens?

They are extensively documented by Greek historians, though it is said that throughout time, the gardens could have been confused with the similar gardens that existed in Nineveh.

The mystery to this wonder is again the lack of modern technology but the intelligent management of the gardens. You see, Babylon was a city that had barely any rainfall, and of course, the gardens needed plenty of water from the nearby Euphrates to survive. For water to reach each level, it would need some sort of pump.

In times of B.C., these technologies did not exist, so how could these gardens possibly have existed? Scientists today are still trying to gather enough evidence to be able to conclude that the Gardens of Babylon truly existed.

What is very interesting is that in 1899, German archaeologist Robert Koldewey dug up parts of the site for about fourteen years. He was able to unearth many of the recalled features of Babylon, including outer walls, inner walls, foundations, and Nebuchadnezzar's palaces. Among his discoveries was a basement with fourteen large rooms with stone arch ceilings. According to ancient records, there were only two locations with those features- the north wall of the Northern Citadel and the Hanging Gardens.

But guess what? The north wall of the Northern Citadel had already been found! While digging further, he also found holes in the ground that would be quite similar to chain pumps used to raise water. Hmmmmm...interesting.

So did these gardens exist? We do not know, but let's hope that his wife was as excited about the gardens as we are to find them!

Holding up the thrones’ armrests were two carved sphinxes, mythical creatures with the head and chest of a woman, the body of lion and the wings of a bird.

Holding up the thrones’ armrests were two carved sphinxes, mythical creatures with the head and chest of a woman, the body of lion and the wings of a bird.

3. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

In the ancient Greek city of Olympia, about 450 B.C., there was a temple built to honor their god, Zeus. The Doric Style temple held this 40-foot extravagant statue, sculpted by the Athenian sculptor Phidias. He created the ivory Zeus seated on his throne while draped in a lavish, gold robe. Around that same time, the Olympic Games started and were held every four years also to honor Zeus.

The intricate statue was not always a part of the temple, though. Over time, it was decided that the temple was just too simple for their King. Therefore, the statue was then added.

So how did this magnificent statue built as an honor become part of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? Well, it had taken Phidias twelve years to complete the statue and ended with it being 22 feet wide and 40 feet tall, with its head nearly grazing the roof of the temple. That is quite an accomplishment for one single person. Many concluded that the statue's size was meant to show the god's size and power. It was the skill of the craftsmanship that was certainly incredible and impressive.

As to the fate of this masterpiece, it is said that the temples were ordered to be destructed, so the statue was moved to the city of Constantinople. The tragic news is a fire engulfed that city in 475 AD destroying everything, including the historic Statue of Zeus.

“Apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on anything so grand,” the writer Antipater of Sidon wrote of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.

“Apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on anything so grand,” the writer Antipater of Sidon wrote of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.

4. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes constructed this intricate temple in the Greek city of Ephesus.

Ephesus is now modern-day Turkey on the east coast, and it was built as a dedication to a Greece goddess. Due to devastation by fire and floods, the temple was built and reconstructed three times before being burnt yet again. The foundations and ruins are still standing.

No one is quite sure when the first temple was built exactly, but modern archaeologists can prove the three reconstructions. When built by Chersiphron, it was entirely made of marble, and it was 377' long while 180' wide. The columns stood 40 feet high, and some of them were decorated with carvings.

On July 21st of 356 B.C., the temple was destroyed by a fire believed to be arson by a man seeking fame of destroying the most beautiful building on earth. It was a complete devastation to the people, and they eventually sentenced him to death. The subsequent reconstruction was a larger temple built by many sculptors and survived another 600 years.

The Goths then torched it, and many of its parts were used in constructing other buildings. In 1869, John Turtle Wood rediscovered the temple after 60 years of searching, and excavations continued until 1874.

Today the rediscovery of the ruins is still there.

According to legend, Artemisia was so grief-stricken at her husband's passing that she mixed his ashes with water and drank them in addition to ordering the mausoleum’s construction.

According to legend, Artemisia was so grief-stricken at her husband's passing that she mixed his ashes with water and drank them in addition to ordering the mausoleum’s construction.

5. Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus

This ancient structure was the tomb of Mausolus and was built by his wife Artemisia of the Persian empire. The mausoleum was built between 353 and 350 B.C. Built rectangular of around 120 feet by 100 feet, it sat perched on a hill overlooking the city.

Made mostly out of marble, some features included a magnificent staircase with lions adorned on each side, statues of gods and goddesses, and stone warriors on horseback guarding the tomb on each corner.

The tomb itself was covered with many sculptures depicting scenes of Greek history. It was designed by Greek architects Satyrus and Pythius. It became such a phenomenon that the word mausoleum is used now for generically any grand tomb today, but of course, it was initially meant to honor Mausolus.

The tomb stood for many centuries and survived the attacks of pirates and the takeover of Alexander the Great in 334 B.C. For 16 centuries, it still stood perched on the hill overlooking the city's ruins. Shortly after, a series of earthquakes then tragically shattered its columns, causing the rest to come crashing to the ground. In the fifteenth century, the Knights of St John of Malta had invaded the region and decided to build a gigantic castle. After fortifying it later, they used stones from the tomb's ruins.

In 1522, the threat of a Turkish invasion caused them to strengthen the castle, using the remaining parts of the Mausoleum. Today, you can still see the polished marble within the castle's walls. There are many depicting historical stories and myths as to what happened to the bodies of Mausol and Artemisia, from grave robbers to cremation.

You can find some of the sculptures archaeologists found at the British Museum in London today.

The statue was completed around 280 B.C. and stood for sixty years until it was toppled in an earthquake. It was never rebuilt.

The statue was completed around 280 B.C. and stood for sixty years until it was toppled in an earthquake. It was never rebuilt.

6. The Colossus of Rhodes

This statue of the Greek Titan Helios was built in the city of Rhodes somewhere between 292 and 280 B.C. Its construction was in celebration of Rhodes' victory over the ruler of Cyprus in 305 B.C.

The statue became the tallest of the ancient world with it standing over 120 feet high and inspired our modern-day Statue of Liberty. Made of melted down bronze of war machines, the construction took twelve years.

However, there are many depictions of just how the statue actually appeared. We know that its pedestal stood near the harbor entrance, but historians are unsure whether the legs were spanning so that ships could flow through underneath or if posed in a more traditional Greek manner.

Some believe that the statue was nude, while others believe semi-nude with a cloak over the left shoulder. Others believe that a spiked crown adorned the head, and a hand holding a torch to the sky like a familiar statue of America now. Chares of Lindos was a Rhodian sculptor and the great architect of this amazing wonder.

It is said that the statue held its massive place for fifty-six years before being destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC.

In the seventh century A.D., Arabs had conquered Rhodes and sold what was left of the statue as scrap metal. Such a tragic end to a mystical, massive art piece.

Archeologists have found ancient coins on which the lighthouse was depicted, and from them deduced that the structure had three tiers.

Archeologists have found ancient coins on which the lighthouse was depicted, and from them deduced that the structure had three tiers.

7. The Lighthouse of Alexandria

This tower was built between 280 and 247 B.C. in Egypt. The lighthouse served its purpose as any other at guiding sailors to the harbor during the night. The height is what makes this ancient tower and an ancient world wonder.

Standing at about 450 feet, it was the tallest man-made structure on the Earth. The decision to build the lighthouse came after Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C., and the new ruler Ptolemy Soter took over. Many trade ships were coming and going throughout the harbor, so in 290 B.C., he authorized the lighthouse's structure.

It would be completed twenty years later, and the first lighthouse ever in the world and the tallest building besides the Great Pyramid.

The lighthouse designer was said to be Sostratus of Knidos, and it was built on the island of Pharos while acquiring the name. The building was unlike any modern-day lighthouses. It included stone-faced material and white marble blocks cemented together. There was a large spiral ramp for carts to draw materials up. The building itself was a combined three parts, one built on top of the other of a square, octagon, and cylinder.

The famous lighthouse stood for centuries, guiding travelers until an earthquake destroyed most of it and fell to destruction in the Mediterranean Sea.

Wonders of the World History

I have learned much about ancient history in my research of this subject, including that there were a lot of earthquakes in those times. I find it absolutely fascinating how these records have been recorded, kept, and found throughout time.

If these majestic places were truly all they say it was, I could only imagine what it was like to live in ancient times with these fantastic, sculpted buildings, towers, statues, and pyramids. I hope you enjoyed this history journey as much as I enjoyed researching it.

Sources

  • Wonders of the World
    The famous Greek historian Herodotus wrote of seven great architectural achievements. And although his writings did not survive, he planted seeds for what has become the list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
  • National Geographic
    From pyramids to temples, our ancestors knew how to get things done.
  • Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
    The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is a list of remarkable constructions of classical antiquity. Of the original Seven Wonders, only one remains intact.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Brianna W

Comments

Brianna W (author) from East Coast on August 07, 2020:

Thank you Gabriel!

Gabriel Philip Sipa on August 06, 2020:

Had read an old book about the 7 wonders of the world, thanks to this hub. A great collection of ancient world, quite informative. Good work there

Blackspaniel1 on October 15, 2014:

I only knew one, the hanging gardens of Babylon. But, that what reading other's hubs can fix, filling in missing information.

Sagar on December 02, 2011:

Wonderful places and very good situated in world with picture...

Latasha Woods from USA on November 28, 2011:

Wonderful hub! Very infomative and beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing!!

Tracy from San Francisco on November 13, 2011:

A very interesting mystery - you always seem to excel in the category of educational writing! Thanks for the awesome hub - voted up!!

Brianna W (author) from East Coast on September 16, 2011:

Thank you Jami! Glad you liked it and thanks for the votes!

jami l. pereira on September 16, 2011:

I Loved this Hub is was very informative and interesting , i voted it up all the way across except funny . This is also on my daughters bucket list:) Cool indeed ! great write! :)

Paul Cronin from Winnipeg on September 10, 2011:

Really interesting, it would be so great to travel and visit all of these sites, even though they are in ruins today, I'll bet if you close your eyes, you can feel the past come alive when on those ancient grounds. Thanks for sharing! Voted Up and Awesome...

Brianna W (author) from East Coast on September 09, 2011:

Thank you Stephanie. Before this Hub, I could only name a couple myself. I had a blast researching this topic and learned a lot along the way!

Stephanie Henkel from USA on September 09, 2011:

I could never name the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but you're thorough research and descriptions have made them so much more real. Very nice hub, interesting and useful. Voted up!

Brianna W (author) from East Coast on September 08, 2011:

posh- Thank you

cmlindblom- Thank you. Unfortunately, I haven't got to visit any of these places either, but they are on my bucketlist.

Chris from middletown, ct on September 08, 2011:

I got to spend some time in many places of the world but unfortunately none of these places. I have been to Petra in the country of jordan though and that is considered a wonder of the world and it was amazing. Actually my profile picture was taken in Petra. Nice hub.

Steve Mitchell from Cambridgeshire on September 06, 2011:

Brains as well as beauty. Great hub and deserves the 86 mark.Vote up and awesomw

Brianna W (author) from East Coast on September 05, 2011:

Thank you all! And Robwrite, I am working on a hub for the natural wonders too.

Rob from Oviedo, FL on September 05, 2011:

Well done. Very well researched. I always get my ancient wonders and my natural wonders (Grand Canyon, Barrier reef, etc., etc.) mixed up.

limph3215 from Malaysia on September 04, 2011:

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, my wonders in life. You give me the chance of walking into history. Good article. Thanks for sharing.

Husky1970 on September 04, 2011:

Fascinating topic. What an extremely well researched and written hub. Having been a geometry teacher at one time, I was always interested in the pyramids and also ancient Greek architecture. Visiting these 7 wonders would be quite an experience. Since I doubt I'll ever get to any of them, I'm glad to have had the chance to read this hub. Voted up and interesting.

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